PART IV - Head Collars; Gentle Leaders, Haltis, and SnootLoops
For those of us that enjoy more walking and less pulling, gentle leaders and other types of head collars are among the most choice options. The primary types of head collars are the gentle leader, the Halti, and the SnootLoop. Of course there are muzzles, but that's another story. Also addressed in this post we take a look at specific type of "front pull" harness that we didn't mention in Part II of this series.
SO, the appeal with gentle leaders, Haltis, and Snootloops (head collars for your dog) in general is that they give you more control over your dog than other types of collars or "control devices." The reason being is that where the head goes, the body follows. If you ever took a gymnastics or karate class when you were a kid, you might recall how your teacher would tell you to look where you wanted your body to go when practicing rolls, flips or otherwise, in order to maintain safety. The same idea applies to pretty much all animals with necks.
For more information on how head collars work, Dr. Sophia Yin has an excellent blog post that tackles the question of whether or not head collars are safe for your dog. The short answer (and part of the title to her post) is that it's all in the technique. Head collars aren't meant to be jerked, but to gently lead (as the name of the gentle leader implies) your dog where you want it to go.
Gentle leaders and Haltis are both pretty similar. The difference of the two existing primarily in the fact that the Halti has an extra "security feature" in the event that your dog tries to pull off his gentle leader. Some dogs absolutely HATE gentle leaders, and you'll see them pawing at their snout ready to pull a magic act like Harry Houdini or David Blaine escaping from a strait jacket. Blogger Lindsay Stordahl does a great job explaining the difference between Haltis and Gentle Leaders on her blog ThatMutt. She also makes a case of why not to use, or overuse, a Halti or Gentle Leader. Ultimately though, the owner needs to decide what's best for them and their furry friend.
Our discussion on head collars wouldn't be complete without mentioning the SnootLoop... One of the distinct advantages of the SnootLoop according to users is that it's more adjustable than the Halti or Gentle Leader and also that it can be more easily fitted to short snouted dogs. Check out the K911 dog training blog for another overview of different types of collars for training your dog -- the author of that blog also talks briefly about why the SnootLoop is their personal favorite.
Before we leave, we want to talk about "front pull" harnesses. These work by applying pressure on the sides of the dogs body so the dog can sense which way they're supposed to go. By following or "walking in" to the pressure, the dog will be able to enjoy a stress free walk. Softouch Concepts makes a wonderful front pull harness that makes walking a pleasure. If you aren't sold on the concept of a head collar but want to have an easier walk with your dog, then a front pull harness may be the right choice for you.