Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

3 Great Uses of a Dog Head Collar

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Halti Head HalterThe dog head collar (aka head halter) is a training tool to control pulling on leash but it can help with more than that.

My favorite has long been the Halti – now an improved version is sold as Walk’n TrainI prefer this design because dogs tend to accept it more quickly than other types, it closes the dog’s mouth quickly (very useful) and releases completely giving your dog excellent “Good dog!” feedback. I’ve never had one rub under the dog’s eyes as other brands can and it comes with a built-in safety strap that clips to the dog’s regular collar.

Here are three of the reasons, other than pulling, that I reach for one:

1) Barking/Lunging

Yes, a dog barking and/or lunging at other dogs, people, vehicles is hard to manage and can be dangerous but you know what else it is? Embarrassing and scary for the human. If you live in the city or walk your dog in a public park, this can make what should be a delightful time out with your buddy feel like a social gauntlet.

A head halter can change that literally overnight. I introduce it to the dog as a game, attach it to a short leash and use smooth upward pressure* when the dog reacts, releasing instantly with happy praise and a treat when he calms himself. With this approach things can go from “oh no!” to “oh, hey, that’s better” quickly.

2) Eating Off the Ground

If you walk in the ‘burbs, this may seem like a minor issue but if you live urban with a dumpster diving dog who grabs every bit of sidewalk ick  it is major. Not only have you fished things out of your dog’s maw that you would not touch on a dare but it can be a dangerous for your dog, too.

Using a head collar, I walk such dogs with a leash held too short for the offending mouth to reach the ground but slack enough that the halter only snugs up if he reaches downward and voila – instant relief. Add in treats for looking up and things can start… looking up!

 3) Handler Assault

This is usually a young dog who leaps up at the person grabbing at the leash or clothing. A “game” for the dog; it can truly frighten and hurt the human. This dog head collar can give calm, nonnegotiable control and immediate relief.

Training tools such as head collars are simply that: tools. Using the right one for the right situation can help change things for the better. If you have questions, ask me in comments below, or hire me for a consult, if you want detailed instruction.

Now you know.

Some Dog Head Collar Tips:

Caveats: Use on a short leash, I prefer four-foot leash and, for some situations, I use even shorter. Never, ever use with the retractable leash with a head halter. A dog on a head halter racing after something on a retractable then can be injured when they suddenly hit the end.

Drawbacks: Some dogs h.a.t.e. this tool but most can get over that. Some dogs are quick to chew the noseband so don’t leave it on in the house. And yes, other people will think it is a muzzle. Buying in either a non-black color like blue, red or pink or in a color that blends in like brown can help.

Use: This is a tool of smooth pressure and quick release of that pressure – never any yanking or jerking.

If you like my blogs, you’ll love my books: My Smart PuppyChildproofing Your DogDogologyTails from the Barkside.

2 Comments

  1. I love love love a halti for all of the above, but even more so for leverage. There is no better way to prevent a reactive Newfoundland from dragging you down the street than to have him in a head collar. He would lunge to say hello but he couldn’t get the leverage to pull me over because he is forced to turn his head. He now knows not to lunge because it is far more comfortable if he doesn’t!

  2. My client and I decided to use one for his very old newly adopted dog. Liking the results so much, he then used it for his basset hound Gus. His response was, “Linda, Gus’ ears stay so much cleaner!” LOL nose off the ground meant ears off as well.

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