Going for a walk is a great way to bond with your dog and give them some time to explore the world through sniffing. But if your dog is more interested in dragging you around—especially a large breed—it can turn a fun experience into a chore.
There are two tools that positive, force-free trainers use to help dogs learn to walk on a loose leash and improve your control on daily walks: the Halti and the Gentle Leader. When used properly, these tools can make your walks successful and enjoyable.
Both Haltis and Gentle Leaders have pros and cons, however. Learn more about these two tools to choose the right one for your needs.
At a Glance
Overview of Halti
The Halti is essentially a head halter. It works similar to the way a horse halter works, guiding the head to guide the body. If it can work on a 1,200-lb animal, your giant breed won’t be a problem.
How It Works
Instead of putting pressure on the neck and shoulders, which can do damage over time, the halter applies pressure to the dog’s muzzle and near the ears. It’s the opposite of aversive tools like prong collars or shock collars. But like any tool, you have to be gentle while using it. Letting it loose and yanking on your dog’s head is just as bad as jerking on a throat collar.
What It’s Good For
Haltis are a good choice if you want to train your dog not to pull without damaging the neck and throat, especially with large or powerful dogs. This is only appropriate for people who want to train since it’s not a quick fix. If you don’t train your dog while wearing the head halter, they will just pull again once the regular collar is one. Dogs that are forceful can damage their neck and spine as well.
Haltis are not appropriate for short-muzzled dogs like the brachycephalic Bulldogs or Pugs. They don’t have the proper anatomy to use the halter as intended.
Overview of Gentle Leader
The Gentle Leader fits around the dog’s muzzle like the Halti to discourage pulling. It also helps with barking, lunging, and jumping. This tool was developed by a veterinary behaviorist to teach your dog not to pull and then it’s intended to be weaned out of use.
How It Works
The Gentle Leader is completely adjustable to ensure a good fit for your dog. It clips under your dog’s throat and applies comfortable pressure when used correctly. When your dog attempts to pull, lunge, or jump up, the strap tightens around the muzzle and makes it uncomfortable to pull.
What It’s Good For
The Gentle Leader is a good choice for dogs that have issues with pulling, lunging, and jumping, whereas the Halti is mostly used for pulling. The Gentle Leader doesn’t have additional straps, so it’s not as good for controlling larger or more powerful dogs as the Halti.
Like the Halti, the Gentle Leader is not a good choice for brachycephalic breeds. Also, if your dog is an escape artist and manages to slip the halter, you will need another leash and collar to ensure you have control if your dog slips.
What Type of Halter Do You Need?
Both the Halti and the Gentle Leader are appropriate for dogs that pull. Choosing between them is a matter of personal choice.
If your dog is good at slipping harnesses and leads, you may want to use the Halti for its extra straps and safety measures. That said, the Gentle Leader is adjustable, giving you a better fit to prevent escape. The Halti is also a better choice for controlling large or powerful dogs, though the Gentle Leader is appropriate if your dog also jumps and lunges at things.
Whichever you use, it’s vital that you combine it with positive training. The goal is to get control of your dog enough to teach loose-leash walking manners and impulse control, not to use it as a permanent crutch to control your dog. If you don’t use training or become rough with the halter, it won’t work as intended.
|When To Use a Halti||When To Use a Gentle Leader|
|Dogs that pull||Dogs that pull, jump, or lunge|
|Large and powerful dogs||If you can’t get the right fit with the Halti|
|If you want extra safety straps||If you are comfortable with an extra collar and leash|
Both the Halti and the Gentle Leader are preferred tools for force-free trainers to teach appropriate walking manners without aversive techniques like the prong or choke collar. Though they have some pros and cons, either halter can work well with proper training and consistency.