Head Halters: The Device, the Uses and the Controversy

Proper fit of the head halter is essential. Without the right fit, the halter may be tight all the time, giving the dog little relief or ability to discern a loose leash from a tight one. Instead, the halter should fit comfortably with room for the dog to engage in regular activities, such as panting. Handlers need to give plenty of slack to the dog when he is giving the desired response.

If direction is given with the head halter, it should only be with a slight pressure, and never a jerking motion. The owner should immediately release any pressure as soon as the right response is given. A dog wearing a halter should also be kept on a short leash with a small amount of slack to prevent the animal from hitting the end of the leash with momentum, helping to safeguard against the possibility of neck injury.

Ensuring Success

Most head halters clip under the dog’s chin, adding the benefit of being able to redirect the dog to face his owner when needed. For dogs that bark on leash at other dogs or people, directional control is especially important. There are alternative versions of halters that clip on the back of the dog’s neck, behind the head. Although they may not tangle under the feet as easily, they do not offer the directional control to turn the dog with ease — part of what makes a head halter effective.

Shorter-nosed dogs are more of a challenge to fit in head halters, as the nose strap easily falls off. Some halters make attachments for shorter-nosed dogs to keep the halter on the face. Alternatively, shorter-nosed dogs can also benefit from a front clip harness.

Those looking for a head halter might want to check out these recommended brands:

Gentle Leader:Simple design that goes around the neck and the nose of the dog. Can be adjusted to fit closer to the dog’s nose.

Halti: One of the original head halters. Easily attaches to collar for added safety.

Snoot Loop: Another variety of head halter with one version specifically designed for short-nosed dogs.

Comfort Trainer Head Collar: Designed to fit more loosely, creating minimal pressure when worn.

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