We have talked about the Freedom No Pull harness in a previous post. I would like to take a moment to introduce you to another training aid that also assists with keeping your excitable dog manageable – the Gentle Leader (a type of head halter).

Labrador wearing a Gentle LeaderThe Gentle Leader type of head collar can make it easy to keep your dog from pulling you around. Head collars are great for turning the puller into the pullee. This makes them a good tool for those who lack the timing or the strength to control a dog with a regular collar. Training a dog with the head collar is most effective when done in combination with positive reinforcement training. I mainly used food reinforcement for this.

Head halter collars can be effectively used to control dogs in difficult situations or when a quick fix is needed in highly excitable circumstances. This could be situations were you know you will have a hard time controlling the dog, and it can include times when the dog will have a difficult time with self-control. The Gentle Leader works much like a halter on a horse. You can redirect the head and thus the direction in which the dog is traveling.

Outside from general pulling, a dog that is reactive to other dogs, people, or strange situations can have his/her attention redirected to you with little effort. If your dog is no longer looking at the ‘offending’ object you can then restore a sense of calm as you travel on. I currently use a Gentle Leader with my foster dog, Aspen, when I know we will be faced with a highly stressful environment.

When fitted correctly (a TNT instructor can assist you with this), dogs can play fetch, eat, drink and do everything else they normally do with their mouths while wearing a Gentle Leader. Because the Gentle Leader fits differently then a traditional collar, it will take a period of getting used to for your dog. Introduction to the collar is best done over a few days using positive association methods. TNT Training carries Gentle Leaders in a variety of colours and sizes for the very low price of $20 taxes already included. Ask an instructor or contact TNT to purchase one.