Using a Head Halter

Teach your dog to walk politely with a head halter

Using a Head Halter

Monday, October 12, 2015 | NHS Behavior Department

What is a Head Halter?

A head halter is a tool used to help teach dogs to walk nicely on a leash. When the dog pulls ahead of you on a walk, his head is turned back toward you, preventing him from getting further ahead. The head halter gives you more control. When combined with training techniques, it will help teach the dog to walk politely.

How should the halter fit?

To be effective and comfortable for the dog, the halter must be fit properly. Most come with instructions about how to fit the halter. It should be snug, so that you can only fit one finger between the collar and your dog’s neck. The nose strap should be loose enough so that it can be moved to the fleshy part of the nose, but not loose enough so that it can be pulled off. It normally rests right below your dog’s eyes. The metal ring where the leash attaches should be underneath the dog’s chin.

What should I expect?

Most dogs will resist the collar when it’s first put on. Reactions can range from rubbing their nose on the ground to using their paws to push the strap off. Some dogs simply lie down and refuse to move. The best thing to do is create a positive association with the head halter. To help build a good association with the halter, try using treats to train the dog to assist you with putting it on. The dog will realize that positive things happen when the collar is on and become more comfortable with it. Keep the dog’s head up while walking and use verbal praise and treats for good walking behavior. 

Things to Keep in Mind: 

  • A head halter is not a muzzle. The dog can still eat, drink, bark, and bite with the halter on.
  • Keep the leash loose. Pulling up on the leash, abruptly stopping or changing direction can result in a neck injury to your dog.
  • Don’t use the halter with a retractable leash. If the dog is running and comes to the end of the leash, the momentum will cause his head to snap back and could cause spinal injuries.
  • Supervise your dog while he’s wearing the halter, whether he is walking or getting adjusted to it. 
  • Unsupervised time gives the dog a chance to figure out how to get the halter off or get stuck.

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