If you are a pet parent who is known through the neighborhood as being dragged down the street by your dog, you may be considering a head collar for your pet.
The two better-known brands are the Gentle Leader and the Halti. They differ from traditional leash/collar combinations in the angle of pull that is exerted on the dog. With a traditional collar, when the dog attempts to pull you down the street, the collar exerts pressure on the dog’s trachea as you tighten your grip on the leash. The result is that your dog will often start coughing as if he were choking, yet he continues to pull.
The Gentle Leader has a slip loop that encircles the snout and fastens behind the head. When the dog begins to pull, pressure is created on the back of the neck resulting in relaxation as the dog attempts to pull forward. The Halti is very similar, except that it has an extra piece that attaches from the nose to the collar.
The typical dog has not spent much time studying physics, but he will tend to respond to an applied force by exerting an opposite force. Therefore, the force is on the back of the neck, not the throat. The concept of these types of head collars is also based upon a horse’s brindle; if you can steer the head, the body will follow.
Head collars are not a substitution for obedience training but in fact they are often used by trainers to supplement leash training. “Gentle” leading is a key concept in the use of these head collars. They should not be used to jerk the dog in the direction you want him to go. Excessive force or “leash pops” from any leash or head collar can damage the dog’s cervical spine. Dr. Julie Kaufman, a veterinarian specializing in animal chiropractic care (www.chiropracticforanimals.net), states, “Since research indicates that it only takes the weight of a dime to depress a nerve’s function by 50 percent , it’s understandable how a tug on a narrow collar could cause major pressure and trauma to a small area of the neck. If you catch the neck at a critical angle, you could blow a disc, cause nerve or muscle injury or worse.”
A properly used head collar and solid obedience training may greatly improve the quality of your dog’s daily walks.
Co-Owner, Camp Bow Wow