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Training your dog with a head collar

There are many devices used in the world of dog training and some are obviously more effective than others.  One of the dog training devices that does work well, however, is known collectively as the head collar. 

The head collar is a device that is designed to wrap around the nose of the dog and then attach behind the head.  It uses the pressure points on the dog’s nose and head to apply pressure which stops the dog from pulling, jumping and straining against the leash.

Many people who see head collars mistake them for muzzles.  This can make many people nervous when the dog is out and about, and it bothers some dog owners as well.  Beyond that, however, the head collar can be a valuable training tool for many dogs, particularly large breeds that may have learned their own strength and are difficult to control with a normal buckle collar.

There are two main brands of head collar on the market, the Halti and the Gentle Leader.  Most people find the Gentle Leader easier to use than the Halti.  In addition, the Gentle Leader is designed to fasten around the dog’s neck.  With this design, if the dog manages to remove the muzzle portion, it is still wearing a collar.  While it is difficult for most dogs to get out of the muzzle portion of a head collar, some dogs do figure out how to perform this trick.

The Halti version, on the other hand, generally provides better control of the dog and it is often favoured with those working with large, aggressive dogs for that reason.

Training the dog with a head collar is often easier for beginning dog trainers and inexperienced dog owners than is training with a regular buckle color.  Head collars are quite good at stopping even the strongest dogs from pulling and straining, since these devices use leverage to give the handler more control.

Head collars are often favoured by many people for handling dogs in difficult situations, such as being around other dogs or taking a trip to the vet.  A head collar can be quite effective at controlling the dog in frightening and difficult situations, even when it is not used for regular training.

It is better, actually, to use head collars as occasional training tools or reminders, not as a replacement for a regular buckle collar or training collar.  That is because many dogs quickly learn to tell the difference between the head collar and the normal collar and adjust their behaviour accordingly.  Therefore, the dog that behaves perfectly while wearing the head collar may suddenly jump and strain out of control when returned to the regular collar.

That fact, of course, points up the limitation of any training device, even one as effective as a head collar.  The goal of any quality dog training program should be to create a willing, obedient dog that can be controlled by nothing more than the handler’s voice. 

Even if you plan to never allow your dog to go outside without a collar and lead, a well trained dog should be capable of walking with you without a leash, even if there are a great many distractions around.  The head collar can help guide you to this goal, but it is till up to you to gain the respect and trust of the dog that will allow it to become a truly well trained member of the family.

If you are unsure how to use a head collar, or if you are unsure if a head collar is right for you, you might want to consult with a dog trainer, your veterinarian or the staff at your local pet store. These experts have probably seen many head collars used, and they may be able to provide valuable insight on the type of training device that will work the best for you.

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