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Head halters for dogs are basically are devices that fit over a dog’s nose and neck. The halters are not to be mistaken for a muzzle. They are a walking device that gives more control than a collar or harness. The basic premise of a halter is: Where the head goes, the body will follow.

The head halter has a strap that goes around the dog’s nose, and another that clasps around his neck, just behind the ears. The leash attaches to a ring below the dog’s chin.

Just like with halters on horses, it works on the principle that where the nose goes, the body must follow. Rather than pulling against the dog’s whole weight on a collar that rests just above his powerful shoulders, we simply put gentle pressure on the halter to turn the dog’s head toward us.

At times, people confuse the halter with a dog muzzle; however, the two are very different and were built for different purposes. That said, it is important to recognize that some models of dog halters were purposely crafted to allow the mouth to be closed; a feature which may turn handy when dealing with dogs prone to aggression.

The head halter is completely humane, as it doesn’t cause any pain and works much better to prevent a dog from pulling than a choke chain or prong collar. Brand names for head halters include Gentle Leader, Snoot Loop and Halti.

Advantages of Using Head Halters For Dogs

  • Works great to reduce pulling. With great control of the head, some dog owners claim it feels as if “power steering”.
  • It gives you some control over your dog’s gaze, making it easier to redirect a reactive dog on walks.
  • The head halter does not depend on the infliction of pain to bring the dog under control.
  • The halter is particularly appropriate for restraining. Retraining dogs with aggression problems, especially dogs who lunge at people or other dogs.

Disadvantages of Using Head Halters For Dogs

  • Head halters that fit too tightly can also cause eye damage or rub fur off the muzzle.
  • Some dogs also become distressed or depressed from the halter, especially if gradual adjustment to the device is not made.
  • The halter can be difficult to put on. Especially with a very active dog, the kind who is most likely to need a halter. It can sometimes take two people – one to lure the nose into the loop with a treat, the other to snap or buckle the collar behind the dog’s ears.
  • The halter, if misused, may cause damage to the spine. If an owner jerks on the head halter or allows the dog to hit the end of the leash at full charge, the halter can snap the dog’s head sideways, risking damage to the spine.

Training a Dog Using Head Halters

Dogs tend to oppose or pull against pressure. Dogs that walk or lunge ahead of their owners are therefore more likely to pull even harder if the owner pulls back on the leash. Instead, if the owner pulls upward and forward the dog is likely to move backward or sit.

In addition, by pulling upward and forward, the mouth will be closed, and the dog’s attention can be refocused on the owner and away from the target of its distraction (or misbehavior).

A continuous pull rather than a tug or jerk should be used until the desired behavior is achieved. The other hand can also be used to gently guide the head into position (e.g., to guide the dog into a sit). By immediately releasing the tension, you indicate to the dog that it is now responding acceptably.

Dogs can also be directed away from a stimulus that induces fear or aggression with a pull on the head halter. If enough tension is applied, this not only turns the dog’s head but also closes the mouth.

What to Expect

Most dogs will resist the collar when it’s first put on. Reactions can range from rubbing their nose on the ground to using their paws to push the strap off. Some dogs simply lie down and refuse to move. The best thing to do is create a positive association with the head halter.

To help build a good association with the halter. ry using treats to train the dog to assist you with putting it on. The dog will realize that positive things happen when the collar is on and become more comfortable with it. Keep the dog’s head up while walking and use verbal praise and treats for good walking behavior.


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