Head halters?

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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 12:27 am

Do any of you have opinions on head halters-- like the Halti or the Gentle Leader?

I have one that we tried with Simon years ago-- he hated it, pawed at it constantly, and it wouldn't stay out of his eyes, no matter how much I adjusted it, so I scrapped using it.

Suzanne Clothier has written a pretty convincing article against using them...but quite a few trainers that I like endorse using them. :| I'm reading Nicole Wilde's Help for Your Fearful Dog, and she discusses using them for some dogs; she says that some pups will just "shut down" when wearing them, and those dogs should NOT wear them, but otherwise, they're a good choice as long as they are introduced and used properly.

I got out our old one and tried it out on Robin today; she took treats ravenously while getting used to it. Any time she wanted to paw at it, I could distract her by walking more, changing direction, or giving her treats.

She definitely didn't shut down. In fact, she went up to our neighbor without barking and jumped on him to get pets. :shock: :o That shocked me. She usually barks, so this was a major step. It's been a year since she let him pet her. That may have been coincidental, but at least she wasn't MORE nervous with it on.

Just wondered what other people thought about them... :|
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 23rd, 2011, 12:33 am

I use them on some dogs, definitely less than I used to...but that's because there are other alternatives now (Easy walk, etc).

There are more than just the Halti and Gentle leader...Black Dog head halters (Infin8 and the classic) and the NuTrix, and the Snoot Loop. So there are some that fit better for some dogs, I have a variety, and try them all out on new dogs.

There are dogs that just can't cope...but I find most dogs can tolerate them, if not ever LOVE them. ;)

I'd type more, but I'm exhausted right now...lol
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 12:48 am

Sounded like you had a helluva day! 8)

I've tried the Easy Walk and the Sporn harness with Robin. I usually walk her on a leather lead with one of those harnesses and/or a martingale collar. Robin sort of trots when we walk, and no matter which of those choices we use, the leash clip bangs against her chest with the collar or Easy Walk, or against her back/side with the Sporn. She really seems to dislike that.

Also, when we go places where she doesn't have to walk much, I just slip on her martingale; she backs out of other collars, no matter how tight, so it's that or a harness. She definitely still pulls when she's excited, and I've wondered if the tightening of the collar isn't perhaps making her anxiety at new places and people worse. :|

So I'm looking at alternatives. We got a step-in harness today-- we went to a place where she could wander around on a long 30ft line, and I wanted something that would keep her from getting the line wrapped up in her legs and would help with the clasp banging on her body. She tolerated the people and bikers really well (no barking! a far cry from all the barking and growling she did earlier in the day on just her collar). She still pulls harder than I'd like on that harness, but I'm going to try that on other walks as well.

I just wondered if most people use the head collar on a dog-to-dog basis, all the time, not at all...??
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Postby Malli » January 23rd, 2011, 4:28 am

IME, almost everything is on a "dog to dog" basis ;)

I had one for Oscar, I tried the Halti and Gentle Leader I think, it rubbed a patch of hair off his nose, and he'd simply turn his head sideways and pull anyway.

At the time, I didn't know very much about dog training(therefor didn't try to make any good association for him with it), and its entirely possible it wasn't adjusted or sized properly...

I think they are good for "management" type situations - where the owner/handler doesn't want to fix the problem, but doesn't want to get pulled over either; or, they are good in situations like you've mentioned, where you think that a change in how the leash is attached may affect behavior...
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Postby SLS61185 » January 23rd, 2011, 6:09 am

We've got a head collar for Patch. I can't remember which it is though... I've tried regular harnesses and they do NOT work with him. He can't walk correctly on his collar, so it was the head collar we went to and it worked. Although, he doesn't like putting it on (He doesn't like putting ANYTHING on, actually), but he walks like he's supposed to... However, he still pulled a lot. The one thing that bothered me is because it's a plastic buckle and I was always worried it was gonna pop (He has A LOT of freaking head 'fat') and if you clip his leash to it and his regular collar, it doesn't work as good...

Now, he's on a springer prong/pinch collar. He still pulls a little if I let him.... But we're working on his heeling, finally, and he's getting 'better'. Sucks, cause we've got him on OB/CGC classes right now, and the trainer will NOT let him test out with his prong at the end.... Sooooo I've got around 5 weeks to work with him on both collars and get him walking on his regular one. Can we say screwed? (This one also bothers me about coming open... But you have to squeeze the prongs to get them apart, so I don't know... And it doesn't work right with is collar attached.)
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Postby iluvk9 » January 23rd, 2011, 7:36 am

I used the Halti with my Labrador, Louie. It worked great. I also had a lead attached to his collar but didn't put pressure on it; it was my backup because he could get out of the Halti if he really wanted to.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 23rd, 2011, 9:13 am

It depends on the dog. Fit-wise, I preferred the Halti for Inara. No matter what I did, the Gentle Leader would always ride into her eyes, and it always seemed so tight around her nose. However, both of us hated the head collars. I introduced her to it super slow, with tons of treats, but it was a no go. She would paw at it every time we stopped moving, or rub up against people's legs. People thought she was being loving but she wasn't - she wanted the damned thing off. She also could just stiffen her neck and pull straight through it. It was useless for us.

I also hated the no pull harnesses - like you said, the clip banged against her, and again, she learned to pull straight through it.

We're now walking (most times) on just one of Brad's leather collars. Teaching loose-leash walking has been a long process, but it's worth it!

On a side note, how are her collars coming off? If you use a wide (1.5" or more) collar, that's fitted snugly at the top of her neck, then it really shouldn't be able to come off. :)
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 9:51 am

Thanks everyone!

IME, almost everything is on a "dog to dog" basis


Well, yeah. Kind of a silly statement on my part, I guess. :doh: I just know people who are as vehemently against them as they are against choke chains and kind of wanted to see what the consensus was here.

We are still working on loose leash walking-- I hate the idea of one type of collar or harness, or any other tool, being necessary for good behavior. But I want to make sure the tools I'm using to help us get there aren't going to make her fear issues worse. The head collar didn't seem to make her any more anxious, since she greeted our neighbor so enthusiastically, so as far as I'm concerned, it goes on our list! :)

n a side note, how are her collars coming off? If you use a wide (1.5" or more) collar, that's fitted snugly at the top of her neck, then it really shouldn't be able to come off.


Admittedly, her martingale is her "good" collar; the other ones are pretty crappy and don't stay tightened. However, when I was measuring her for her martingale, he head and neck are almost the same diameter. Homegirl has a THICK neck and all she has to do is stretch her face up and she slides right out. A solid leather collar might make the difference, though. And me fitting it higher up would probably help. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 23rd, 2011, 9:53 am

Collarmania has a great deal right now for clearance fabrics...I got my newest foster a 1.5 no buckle slide collar for $15...can't beat that!

And to temper Liz's review, I've prefererred the GL to the Halti most times, as the Halti is too thick and cumbersome for my little Aussie faces. ;)
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 10:06 am

The Gentle Leader is the one that we have.

I've been eyeing the clearance fabrics there...Convincing my husband that she needs a new collar will be the tough part. ;-)
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Postby SisMorphine » January 23rd, 2011, 10:19 am

I prefer the GL to the Halti as well because of fit. I used a GL for Teeny for her reactivity. She hasn't had to wear it in a while.

I tried one for Blue, hoping to use it for his TDInc test, but we'll just say it didn't go well and we won't be trying that again. Some dogs just aren't GL material. LOL!
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 23rd, 2011, 10:46 am

SisMorphine wrote:I prefer the GL to the Halti as well because of fit. I used a GL for Teeny for her reactivity. She hasn't had to wear it in a while.

I tried one for Blue, hoping to use it for his TDInc test, but we'll just say it didn't go well and we won't be trying that again. Some dogs just aren't GL material. LOL!


It really helps to get them wearing them as puppies (not that it helps those that have older dogs now...) but we started using the GLs for our SD puppies...and it was SO much easier. Then if you need it later on, you can use it without issues, and if you don't need it...no worries at all!

Inara hasn't had to wear her GL in years either...but at the height of her reactivity...it was a much needed piece of equipment, as I could manuever her head around. I didn't introduce Score to one at all...I taught him a loose leash walk on a buckle collar from a pup...and he's never needed much else (occasionally an EW when the kids walk him in a highly distracting environment). Fig...I didn't try one for him, it seemed bad for him to be using one when he was so short and far from me. lol

But the Aussies have all worn them with much success...but have all been weaned off of them.
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Postby SisMorphine » January 23rd, 2011, 10:51 am

Yeah DEFINITELY easier to introduce it to a younger dog. I think Teeny was probably 8 months when I introduced her to it. Blue, on the other hand was 5 years old and even with a slow introduction it was NOT a pretty (or frankly safe) situation.

I used to do GL fittings/training sessions (and I still do here and there) and I've never had a dog react the way Blue did. But most dogs aren't as dick-ish as he can be lol

I used to use Wally as a fitting demo dog for the GLs. He was perfect because the second it went on he froze (we called it Broken Dog) so it was easy to show people how to do proper fits. Good thing he never needed one. He was perfect, though ;)
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 11:06 am

Inara hasn't had to wear her GL in years either...but at the height of her reactivity...it was a much needed piece of equipment, as I could manuever her head around.


Did you, as Joyce mentioned earlier, use two leads in these instances?
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 23rd, 2011, 11:21 am

amalie79 wrote:
Inara hasn't had to wear her GL in years either...but at the height of her reactivity...it was a much needed piece of equipment, as I could manuever her head around.


Did you, as Joyce mentioned earlier, use two leads in these instances?


My Inara isn't a pit bull...and she was people reactive. So I used it to manuever her head around to look at me (gently...I'm not cranking her head around) and to keep her from pulling too (I adopted her at the age of 1.5years).

I didn't use two leads, because that's too bulky for me, and there was no chance of her getting loose and going after someone...she's a nipper...and fearful, so if she got off leash, she'd run the other way, or circle around barking. She wasn't one to charge into a situation and bite. ;) Dogs...she loves dogs, so it wasn't a dog-dog issue at all.
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Postby SisMorphine » January 23rd, 2011, 11:26 am

I only use one lead because I like to keep things simple.
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 11:37 am

TheRedQueen wrote:
My Inara isn't a pit bull...and she was people reactive. So I used it to manuever her head around to look at me (gently...I'm not cranking her head around) and to keep her from pulling too (I adopted her at the age of 1.5years).

I didn't use two leads, because that's too bulky for me, and there was no chance of her getting loose and going after someone...she's a nipper...and fearful, so if she got off leash, she'd run the other way, or circle around barking. She wasn't one to charge into a situation and bite. ;) Dogs...she loves dogs, so it wasn't a dog-dog issue at all.


That makes sense. Robin is just fearful of everything, but I'm particularly concerned with her reactivity to people. With items, I've taught nose and paw targeting commands and that seems to help with inanimate objects. But people, she wants to meet them, but is too scared. She wanted to get into a woman's car with her yesterday, until the woman looked at her. :rolleyes2:

The only time she has gotten off-leash, was when an aggressive dog charged her. She ran the other way, which was a load off of my mind. We were at the pet shop yesterday, and they have a little rescue chorkie in an expen. She usually goes over to sniff without any problem. Yesterday, the little rat... I mean dog... growled at her. Poor Robin tucked her tail and skulked away.

I think she'd have to be cornered for there to be a problem. When people come into our house, if she's afraid, she barks and moves back and forth. I don't really worry about her getting away and going after someone-- I mostly wondered if having one leash to control the body and one to control the head gave you better precision control to put less stress on the neck, once you got used to having 2 leads, of course. I'm not sure that would ever happen for me... :wink:
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Postby furever_pit » January 23rd, 2011, 11:52 am

For whatever it is worth, I think you could get used to holding two leads. I use two leashes when I take my guys bike riding or rollerblading. I was super clumsy at first, but have gotten pretty good at it over time.

As for head halters, I've never used one on my personal dogs. I prefer to start teaching loose lead walking with meals on a flat collar. The dogs I have seen with the HH seem uncomfortable and are constantly trying to take them off to the point that it interferes with their ability to concentrate on what is being asked of them. I can only presume that these dogs were not introduced to the equipment properly.

Personally, I think different dogs require different methods and if it seems to be working for Robin then get on with your bad self!
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Postby amalie79 » January 23rd, 2011, 12:01 pm

furever_pit wrote:For whatever it is worth, I think you could get used to holding two leads. I use two leashes when I take my guys bike riding or rollerblading. I was super clumsy at first, but have gotten pretty good at it over time.

As for head halters, I've never used one on my personal dogs. I prefer to start teaching loose lead walking with meals on a flat collar. The dogs I have seen with the HH seem uncomfortable and are constantly trying to take them off to the point that it interferes with their ability to concentrate on what is being asked of them. I can only presume that these dogs were not introduced to the equipment properly.

Personally, I think different dogs require different methods and if it seems to be working for Robin then get on with your bad self!


lol We're going to give it a good ol' college try, I think.

Simon was miserable with it, but I didn't properly introduce it, and it really didn't fit his narrow little setter muzzle very well at all.

Robin is progressing with her loose lead walking much more quickly than River. Robin appeared to have never been on a leash when we got her (at a year old); River's been a nightmare to teach, and we got her at 4 years old from what appeared to be a situation where she wasn't taken out very much.

Things like that make me want a puppy...But I'll probably continue to make life hard on myself and adopt adult dogs. Fearful adult dogs. Fearlful, reactive, special needs adult dogs. 8)
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Postby furever_pit » January 23rd, 2011, 12:03 pm

Puppies are overrated. lol
I think my next dog will be a green 12-24 month old.
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