January 23, 2022
Headcollars or Head Halters work similiarly to halters for a horse and are fitted fitted around a dog's muzzle with the leash attached under the mouth. The collar should fit nicely into the shape of the dog's face and muzzle and needs to be measured for the specific brand of collar you choose, as they all tend to fit a little differently. Unsurprisingly, headcollars are not an ideal choice for owners of short-muzzleddog breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, and are typically used by the owners of large dogs with a long muzzle, like German Shepherd's and Golden Retriever's.
Also known by different popular brand names "Halti", or "Gentle Leader", a head collar works by placing most of the leash pressure on the more delicate muscles around the face, instead of the chest or neck like traditional collars and harnesses work. This leverage makes it difficult for dogs to pull against the leash, even without any special training. However, like any new tool, your dog should be acclimated slowly to wearing a headcollar for short periods of time for the best possible results.
The general principle behind a headcollar is that animals tend to go where they are facing. This is obvious for the horse whose facial biology is designed to look straight ahead. On the other hand, dogs are a lot more mobile and easily distracted. A gentle tug using a head collar can help in guiding them towards a certain direction or telling them to stop whatever they are doing.
Many trainers profess the effectiveness of simply pairing the collar with food or treats. The technique is to put a treat on the outer side of the collar and inviting the dog to stick its head into the collar to get the treat.
It may take several sessions before your dog will be able to wear the collar with enthusiasm. You will eventually learn that using a head collar makes the task of training a lot easier. After all, a head collar connects your movements to your dog's head and not just their body. Remember to take off the collar when it is not used. It is also a good idea to buy a padded collar to minimize discomfort on your dog. If used with caution and with proper technique, head collars can be invaluable tools for training.