If you are one of the many people, that struggles when walking your dog on a regular lead or harness you may already have considered trying a head collar.
Understanding how to use a Halti head collar is essential for a rewarding and stress-free walk for both you and your dog.
Why use a Halti head collar?
The number one complaint from dog owners is that their dog pulls on a lead. Not only is lead pulling uncomfortable for you but it is also uncomfortable for your dog.
Despite any discomfort your dog may experience, however, it will continue to pull because it is a successful behaviour. In that, by pulling, your dog gets to where it wants to go faster.
No matter how many times you may pull your dog back or are tempted to yank the lead it is very unlikely to prevent further pulling. Your dog wants to move forward, a short tug backwards frequently just serves to speed your dog up once they get going again.
Unfortunately, this often becomes a battle between you and your dog. And despite what you may think, your dog does not understand that they are doing anything wrong. They just want to get to the next lamppost for a sniff or turn the corner to reach the park.
Although many people with small dogs will put up with a certain amount of pulling. If you have a large dog that continually pulls it can lead to ongoing neck, back and shoulder problems.
Not only that but if you are on the small side and your dog is large you will have very little control if your dog decides they want to investigate something.
Using a standard collar and lead for a dog that pulls poses a real risk to your dog’s health. Think of it a little like having a whiplash injury.
Each time you yank the lead backwards, your dog is experiencing both extreme pressure and force on a very delicate area of their body their neck. Although the damage might not be visible, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.
What is a Halti head collar?
The Halti head collar is designed to help prevent your dog from pulling while walking. It’s a training aid that when used correctly should stop your daily tug of war with your dog.
A Halti head collar works in a similar way to the head collars used on horses. The idea being that it puts you in control of your dog’s head. Which means that you can gently steer them in the direction that you want to go.
The Halti head collar has two loops, one that goes over your dog’s muzzle and another that goes around the back of your dog’s head.
Made from fabric without any metal parts it’s designed to be comfortable for your dog to wear. But getting the right fit is essential so that it doesn’t rub or ride up into your dog’s eyes. If in doubt visit your nearest stockist and get them to help fit one on your dog.
The Pros and Cons of a Halti head collar
As with any training aid, there are pro’s and cons to using them. However used in the correct way a Halti head collar can provide a number of benefits including;
- Better control over your dog’s head and where it goes!
- Makes walks much more relaxed for both of you
- Prevents damage to neck, shoulders and back of both you and your dog
- Provides small or slight owners much more control over large dogs
- Comfortable for your dog to wear and non-restrictive. Your dog can still pant, drink and breathe
- Due to its design, the Halti does close your dog’s mouth if it lunges. Therefore acting as a temporary muzzle which is useful if you have a feisty fido
Despite the many benefits of using a Halti head collar, there are also some potential downsides that you should be aware of which include;
- It can take some dogs a long time to get used to wearing one which increases stress on walks
- Getting a Halti fitted correctly is essential. As the strap runs around the muzzle, a Halti that is too large or loose can result in rubbing near the eyes
- Some dogs become subdued or passive while wearing a Halti
- There is a small risk that if your dog pulls sharply to the end of the lead, they will strain their neck. Because of this NEVER use a head collar with a long line or extendable lead
- You still need to train your dog not to pull. The Halti is a useful piece of equipment, but ultimately training is the only long term solution
However as with all training material, when used correctly the Halti head collar is safe. And an excellent way to help change your dog’s behaviour and make walking your dog fun again.
How to get your dog used to a head collar
If you are introducing your dog to a head collar for the first time, make it a rewarding experience for your dog.
Dogs who are trained to accept new or different situations or equipment will learn much faster. What’s more, they will be more relaxed than if you try to force them into something.
Remember having a strap across your dog’s nose will be an entirely new sensation for them so try to make it enjoyable.
Think of it a little like wearing a pair of glasses for the first time. You tend to look at the bridge of your nose rather than through the lenses. The feeling of something on our nose can also be distracting. So be patient with your dog.
This is a great video to that explains the best way to get your dog accustomed to a head collar, in this case, a gentle leader. But the principles are the same for the Halti head collar.
Persevere and be patient, the time you spend now will be short in comparison to a lifetime of easy walks!
How to use a Halti head collar
Once you’ve got your dog used to wearing a head collar, it’s time to go outside. Don’t expect the Halti to work instantly. Your dog is used pulling so it may take a few walks for them to understand the new system completely.
It’s useful if you can begin by using the Halti head collar in your garden first, away from distractions. You will need to attach a lead that is long enough for your dog’s head to be kept loose and relaxed at all times.
One of the most common mistakes that people make when using a head collar is to hold the lead tight. Unfortunately, this results in your dog having an abnormal head movement. What’s more, this twist of the head can put a strain on their head and necks and create an unpleasant experience for them.
It’s normal for a dog to paw at the head collar when it first starts wearing one. You can see what happens in the video below. Encouraging your dog to walk on and rewarding them when they do so is the best way to stop it until your dog gets used to wearing it.
Top tips for using a head collar
Always read the instructions that come with the head collar. Many head collars also come with a video or DVD that provide training tips of how to use the collar correctly.
However, there are some general rules that apply to all head collars that may make the experience easier for both you and your dog;
- Take time to get your dog used to the head collar
- Make sure that the head collar fits correctly
- Use a lead that is long enough to allow for your dog’s natural head movement
- Remember that you are working towards a loose lead, not a dog that is walking tight beside you
- When steering your dog, use a steady, gentle but firm motion. Never jerk or yank the collar
- Praise and treat your dog frequently
- Start in a low distraction environment and gradually build up to more challenging places
Do I need a Halti head collar?
If walking your dog is becoming a chore because of constant pulling then it’s worth investing in a head collar. Used correctly they can completely change the daily tug of war with your dog and transform your walks together.
It’s not necessarily an instant fix for a pulling dog. But with a short investment of time, you can have a dog that is a pleasure to walk. Not only is it good for your relationship but a Halti head collar can prevent back, neck and shoulder problems for you both.
A well-fitted head collar is a great training aid, but it is just that, an aid. You still need to teach your dog how to walk nicely. But it will certainly help you to do that.