Head Collars for dogs. Do they work? When & why you would use a head collar and how to help a dog get used to wearing a head collar.
Head collar worked wonders. Xeena resisted at first but it was so good that there was no pulling, recommended to everyone who has a pully dog … It’s amazing now she is not pulling … i dont hurt, i have problems with my hips and when she pulled it really hurt. [Sonia Oag, January 2017]
Bought two headcollars and have been out using them today both fine fitting well on my dogs faces no loose gaps works well when they swop sides on walking too. Seem very strong. Very happy. [Megan Oldfield, December 2016]
This headcollar is 100% PERFECT! Put it on Ollie this morning, he once rubbed his face but from then on he was very happy to wear it for the whole walk and, because he has it on (and he knows) he walked perfectly. Because of the fit unlike a ‘Halti’ it can stay on the whole time and doesn’t inhibit the dog at all. There are no loose bits to catch on anything so its perfectly safe. It is so simple and easy to use and it works very well indeed. I am a very happy lady thank you Sarah. [Wendy McDonald, November 2016]
Do Head Collars work?
Head collars do work, yes, however there are some exceptions that with a little training could be overcome. Head collars for dogs work in the same way that head collars or halters (where the brand name ‘Halti’ comes from) work for horses. Horses are large powerful animals and the head collar is a way to control them (usually) with ease… although I have been known to be pulled around by a horse just in a head collar in my days working as a groom. Head Collars help when –
- You have a shoulder injury and walking your dog is becoming a problem
- You have a dog that strains on his dog collar or harness and walking is not enjoyable for him either
- You simply cannot walk your dog due to his strength
- You are incapacitated in any number of ways and a pulling dog makes walks a problem
- You have simply stopped walking your dog because of any one of the above and you are both putting on weight!
- Lack of exercise for your dog means he is not getting the socialisation he needs
When head collars can be a problem
Some people simply do not like head collars on their dogs, mainly because their dog will not wear one. There have been times when I have taken a head collar off a dog because they simply will not tolerate one, but I stress, this because I haven’t had time to train the dog. So how do you get a dog to accept a head collar?
How to help a dog to accept wearing a head collar
- You are not going on a walk
- Motivators / rewards (food, verbal praise, toys / play, intrinsic rewards such as allowing forward movement or free time off lead)
- A good dog head collar
- A good dog lead
A few ideas to work on indoors –
- Pop the head collar on, reward, take it off
- If you are familiar with Clicker Training, do nose touches working up to putting the nose through nose piece, click, reward
- Feed your dog with head collar on, then take it straight off
- Put the head collar on around the house (if dog paws to try to get it off, you have gone too far, try to get him to relax before you take if off otherwise he will think this behaviour leads to it coming off)
- Put the head collar on and play your dogs favourite game or something he likes doing
When you have made progress indoors, go outside or in a large enough space indoors with time and patience –
- Put head collar & lead on – reward (praise and / or treat)
- Set off walking
- Dog does one of the following –
- Rubs head along the ground
- Paws at face
- Paws frantically at face
- Pulls a ‘this head collar is killing me’ face
- Any combination of the above
- What you don’t do –
- Don’t shout or get mad
- Don’t reward
- Don’t speak
- Don’t panic
- What you should do –
- Stand still / calm
- Hold lead firmly, raise hand upwards so lead is vertical (no tugging or yanking)
- Wait for dog to stop flapping
- Release lead
- Then what you should do
- REPEAT !!!!
What other head collars are there on the market?
Head collars are plenty out there in internet world, some good, some bad, some made by amateurs that have not been tested and some popular patented designs. The head collars I am aware of are – Halti, Gencon, Black Dog & the Gentle Leader. Each one has their fans, I have used 3 out of 4 of these myself but now just use my own Simple Leader. My Simple Leader comes with the Simple Leader Safety lead which is essentially a lead that attaches to the head collar and collar and if one breaks you are still attached to the other. (IPO Design Protection currently being applied for).
Head Collar reviews –
The Halti – nice head collar, renowned for interfering with the dogs eyes when badly fitted, established company, patented design
Black Dog – no personal experience off, looks exactly like a horses head collar
Gentle Leader – My favourite
Gencon – the only one out of these 4 whose ‘contact point’ is not under the chin, obviously has its fans, dog may still pull with contact point at side or above the head
Why head collars are different?
- Made from different fabrics, some good, some poor or too thin
- Some new designs are full of faults in an effort to design something for the sake of a new product
- Contact point is different
- Under the chin (my Simple Leader), best IMO as it seems to be the most effective design (Halti and gentle Leader too)
- Back of the head – martingale types like the Indi Dog
- Side of the head – Gencon and other non patented designs
- Be aware of wide choice, choose what is most comfortable for your dog and what he is happiest wearing
- Do not ever use with long training leads because of the risk of jarring your dogs neck
- Make sure the head collar is well made and from a respected company