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Using a Head Collar for Dogs - an Owner's Perspective

Updated on September 10, 2016

  I have two very high spirited Labrador retriever puppies.  One is just over a year and the other is eight months and both have more energy than I have seen in well fourteen years since the last time I raised some pups.  I got a little spoiled with my last two dogs as they got older and were very good on lead.  Now these two dogs are all over the place, jumping up and, as most retrievers do, want to carry their lead in their mouth. 
  I like nothing better than getting up real early and going out with the pups for a walk.  Constantly correcting and being jerked around makes these outings a challenge to say the least.  Since I pretty much have to take both of them out and work with the two of them at the same time I figure I need a little help with controlling these two.  Traditionally there are collars that are made for these types of situations.  The two that come to mind most are the Woodhouse collar (chain choke collar) and the prong or pinch collar.  Both of these collars deliver pain when a correction is delivered to the dog.  The chain choke collar closes on the neck and the prong collar has these metal rods that dig into the dog's neck when pressure is applied from the lead.  I am not a big fan of giving pain to train my dogs and have been looking for alternatives to get help with the walk.

There are collars that are made to fit around a dog's head and will act just like a halter for a horse. Although each manufacturer has slight variations in the design the basic theory behind these collars or halters are the same. The collar has a loop that goes over the dog's nose, the lead hooks into the lower part of this loop and any pressure from the dog or the lead closes this loop, shutting the dog's mouth and steering their head to the side. You have two points of control here. First, you have control over the mouth in case you have some aggression issues. Second the act of pulling the head of the dog to the side is very unnatural for your dog and brings the attention back to you instead of forging ahead on the walk.

You need to train your dog to get used to this collar as they will not like having this cord over their nose. Doing a few trial sessions with some treats makes this pretty quick work. I have not seen any dogs that like this over their nose at first. I have seen some older dogs that have gotten used to this and no longer complain. My Lab has to stop a couple of times on the walk to scratch her nose on the ground.

When I first used the head collar I was amazed at the immediate positive response I got from my dog. She took to it right away and after pulling a couple of times settled into a nice loose leash walk. She still does not like to put it on but knows that it means going for a walk which seems to outweigh any negative aspects of the collar. The goal is to train my dog to walk with a loose leash and the head collar is a great, very gentle device to use to get to that goal. I use the Halti collar and Premier makes the Gentle Leader head collar as well.


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    • datahound profile image

      datahound 5 years ago from USA

      I appreciate your comments flacoinohio. I have found these give me the best control of any training harness or collar. My dogs hate the nose thing but going for a walk far out weighs the discomfort.

    • flacoinohio profile image

      flacoinohio 5 years ago from Ohio

      I use the gentle leader for my dogs, they did not like them at first and would lay in the ground rubbing their snouts in the grass to try and remove them. But after a few walks they were fine once the collar was on, even today they don't care t have them placed but once they are on the dogs are fine. I have also found that not only do I have control, but I trained my dogs to walk 1 step behind me and one step to the left or right so that we are not walking on each others feet. Something they will do even when not wearing the gentle leader. And best of all, they do not respond to other dogs even loud aggressive dogs after a bit of simple training, most often they simply ignore other dogs.

    • datahound profile image

      datahound 6 years ago from USA

      Memories1932 - the only pain these dogs will ever feel is hunger pains if dinner is running late. Thanks for the border collie Salute!

    • profile image

      Memories1932 6 years ago

      I'm glad you found a humane way to control your dogs.There is no reason ever to inflict pain on a dog. Our border collie gives you 4 paws up!!