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How to Use a Head Halter

A 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.

A head halter is a special kind of collar with a strap that goes around your dog’s nose and another strap that goes around his neck, just behind his ears. For most head halters the leash fastens to the halter under his chin to a ring that’s also attached to the nose strap. Some attach behind the dog’s head. When your dog begins to pull, the design of the head halter causes the dog’s nose to be turned back toward you or down toward his chest which makes it physically difficult for him to continue pulling.

Brand names for head halters include “Gentle Leader,” “Promise Collar,” “Halti,” and “New-trix.”

How should it fit?

The head halter must be properly fit to be effective and comfortable for your dog. Check the instructions included with the head halter for fit instructions. Different designs fit differently.

How will your dog react?

Most dogs will resist a head halter at first. The amount of resistance varies for each dog. When you first put the head halter on, your dog may try to get it off by pawing at his nose or rubbing his nose on the ground, on you, or on anything your dog can get close to. The best strategy is to keep his head up and keep him moving by using positive verbal reinforcement and treats.

Most dogs eventually accept head halters. When your dog associates the halter with going for a walk, he’ll begin to react positively to it, and soon, both you and your dog will enjoy taking walks together!

Things to remember

  • Make sure the head halter is fitted properly according to the package instructions.
  • A head halter is not a muzzle.
  • A dog wearing a head halter can still eat, drink, pant, bark and bite, if he chooses.
  • Never use a hard jerk with the head halter.
  • Don’t use the head halter with a retractable lead. Nothing longer than a six foot leash.
  • If your dog runs quickly to the end of a retractable lead, it may give itself a hard jerk.
  • Your dog should wear his head halter only during on-leash walks with you and/or when you’re directly supervising him.
  • If your dog wears the head halter around the house, he’ll have plenty of time to work at getting it off, and will eventually succeed.