Out of all the different types of equipment available for your dog, head collars have recently become extremely popular. Originally used for guiding horses the idea then moved on to dogs, with the intention that owners would have more control. If you can steer the dog’s head, then the body will follow. Some also believe that the pressure on the dog’s muzzle and behind the ears has a calming effect on dogs.
But do they work? The answer is that most owners do tend to agree that they are extremely helpful. The pulling sometimes does stop altogether (unfortunately this is only when wearing the head collar, take it off & the pulling returns) and others say the pulling is still present but, as their dog pulls forward, their head is guided sideways instead. On some dogs it has no effect whatsoever.
If you are considering using a head collar for your dog, there are some useful things to take into consideration:
Breed - dogs such as bulldogs and pugs, with short noses, have difficulty with head collars are they have less space between their noses and eyes for the muzzle strap to sit comfortably.
Correct fitting - this is crucial! Always measure correctly according to individual requirements of the head collar you are buying. If it is too loose and the dog pulls, the head collar will pull backwards and irritate the dog’s eyes and surrounding areas. If it is too tight the dog will not be able to open their mouth enough to drink, eat or pant.
Security - if your dog wears a head collar then it is possible, with enough wriggling about, that they may pull it off. For this reason, I would strongly advise you either use a double ended lead (one end clipped to the head collar and the other to a regular collar or harness) or you can buy a special clip which will attach the head collar to another collar.
Introducing - when using a headcollar for the first time, the majority of dogs do not like the sensation of having something on their face. Always introduce as a positive thing and put it on them for very short amounts of time and gradually build it up.
Important - for dogs who just pull using a head collar is safe but, if your dog jumps, wriggles or lunges I would advise not using one. A sudden jerk cause serious long-term neck damage to the dog.
Once you decide a head collar may be worth a try then next is to decide which to use. There are various brands on the market, below are the most popular:
Halti & Gentle Leader - these are popular choices and are similar in design as they have the lead clip under the jaw. Some have an adjustable muzzle strap which means it is more of a snug fit. There are many companies which have brought out similar designs like these. Beware of cheap imitations as they may not be good quality.
Dogmatic - I personally would recommend these headcollars. Their design is unique & more structured which means there is less chance it will ride up in to the dogs’ eyes. These are also a good fit for all breeds, even those with shorter muzzles.
Canny Collar - these fits similar to other designs but the lead clips at the back of the head and the head collar slightly tightens if pressure is applied.
K9 Bridle - a variation of the canny collar which also has the lead clip at the back. These can be a little confusing to put on to start off with but people who have tried this design have recommended it.
Gencon / Figure of 8 - these head collars are a simple all-in-one, some also have a lead incorporated in the design. If you like the idea of this style, then a simple slip lead can be used by just twisting a section and placing over the muzzle.
Using head collars to stop pulling may temporarily give your arm a rest, or being dragged down the street, but when taken off the pulling resumes.
Of course there is a far better solution - teach your dog to walk nicely so you can enjoy relaxing walks.
You may have already tried & be thinking this is ‘easier said than done’ but this need not be the case. With consistency and patience, a dog can be taught to walk beautifully on a loose lead or even with no lead.