Dog head halters have a strap that goes around the dog's muzzle, and provide more control for owners who are teaching their dogs to heel or stop pulling on the leash. Dog head halters like the Halti headcollar, and Gentle Leader, stop dogs from pulling by steering the head so the body has to follow.
Head collars are sometimes mistaken for a muzzle, which they are not. One type of head collar, The Gentle Leader, was developed by Dr. R.K. Anderson and Ms. Ruth Foster. Dr. Anderson is a veterinarian and is certified veterinary behaviorist. Ms. Foster is a dog obedience trainer and AKC obedience judge.
The Gentle Leader is an effective and humane way to train a dog to walk on a loose leash without pulling by making use of a knowledge of dog behavior. It consists of a loop that fits over the dog’s nose, below the eyes and behind the corners of the dog’s mouth. Another loop is buckled high on the dog’s neck, right behind the ears. The two loops join under the dog’s chin, where the leash is attached. Other types of head collars, the Halti, and the Snoot Loop are designed slightly differently.
Putting pressure over the bridge of the nose and the top of the neck mimics postures that dogs use with each other to establish dominance and control. The head collar encourages the dog not to pull without the use of physical force or discomfort. It is not uncommon for a dog to resist the sensation of having something on top of her muzzle.
The first time the head collar is on, the dog may rub her head on the ground or paw at the collar. The most dominant dogs often resist the most because they do not want to be controlled. The Gentle Leader is therefore particularly effective on large, physically strong dogs who are also strong-willed. The dog adapts to the collar much more quickly if it is first put on before engaging in an enjoyable activity such as going for a walk or playing fetch
A head halter is designed to reduce pulling by distributing pressure around the dog's head, rather than focusing all of that pressure on the front of the dog's throat. Similar to harnesses used to lead horses, head halters have a strap that clasps behind the dog's ears and a second strap that wraps around the dog's muzzle, just in front of the eyes. When the dog pulls forward and the leash becomes taut, the pressure of the head halter causes the dog's head to turn to the side while simultaneously slowing his body. When used appropriately, head halters dramatically reduce the effort required by owners to stop their dog's pulling.
Dog head collars allow handlers to control dogs that are strong pullers.
By Suzanne Hetts and Daniel Estep
Rocky Mountain News
Drs. Hetts and Estep can be contacted on the web at www.AnimalBehaviorAssociates.com or by phone at (303) 932-9095