As mentioned in yesterday’s post about how to stop dogs pulling on the leash, headcollars can be a good way of dealing with the problem while you work on training the loose leash method. They basically work by making the dog turn its head toward you if it tries to pull, a bit like a horse head collar, you lead them by the nose, which makes pulling very difficult.
Most dogs don’t like head collars, so it is important to choose one that is comfortable and effective. When you first get it let your dog have a look and a good sniff of it. Once they’re comfortable with this new item you can try putting it on. Start indoors, just pop it over their nose and reward with treats and praise. Let them do this a few times before you fasten it. Again, easy does it, a few repetitions with them just wearing the head collar, getting rewards, but not attaching a leash to it yet. Once they are comfortable with it you can add the leash, again indoors, do it a few times, just for a moment or two, before moving to actually using it outdoors. Remember to keep your mood upbeat and positive so that your dog associates the headcollar with something good.
Which one is best for me?
I’ve decided to review five different brands of headcollar, I’ve chosen them because of their popularity, but most importantly because they are the ones which I have personally experienced with my own dogs and those who have trained in my classes.
This collar differs from the others that I’m reviewing in that it actually is a standard collar as well as the head collar. I particularly like this because it means that if my dog does manage to wriggle out of the nose band I still have him attached to the leash, which gives a lot of peace of mind when we’re out and about near traffic and other hazards. The Canny collar comes in a range of sizes and colours. The collar is made from thick, soft padded webbing, which is comfortable for the dog to wear, the strap that goes over the nose and up behind the ears is made from a strong nylon webbing, it has two hoops on the end of the nose strap part which are clipped together on the lead to provide the tension across the nose band which inhibits pulling.
It’s a mid range product in terms of price, but it does compare well to some of the others, it doesn’t ride up into the dogs eyes, however it does need to have tension from the lead at all times, otherwise they can get the nose strap off quite easily. I used this with my dog Jive and he became an expert at slipping the nose band off whenever my attention was drawn elsewhere, but it did stop him pulling completely.
The most expensive of the bunch here, the Dogmatic is made from strong padded webbing with cartoon dog pictures on, come in a range of sizes and colours, and it really is extremely comfortable for the dog. It will not ride up into the eyes, they will really struggle to get it off and it works incredible well in stopping pulling immediately. It is very simple to fasten and unfasten, with just one clip. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for!
The gencon is essentially a figure of eight made from strong nylon webbing. Comes in a range of colour options, you don’t need to vary the size, because the design means that it works on any size of dog. It’s not got padding like some of the others, so less comfortable for the dog, however its design means that the nose band pulls down ward, and not up into the eyes. You can buy the head collar alone and clip it onto your own lead, or you can get an all in one lead and headcollar. I purchased the all in one lead and collar, and found it very effective in stopping pulling immediately, however for my preference the lead wasn’t long enough. One drawback for me is that, whilst it is difficult for my dog to get the collar off, if she did she would be running free, as there isn’t a clip to attach to her normal collar. I remedied this by using a training leash with two trigger hooks so that I could be sure that she was attached regardless of whether the gencon was on or not.
This is one of the budget products on the market, it is made from strong, but thin nylon webbing, which doesn’t seem too comfortable for the dog. Nonetheless, it works extremely well in controlling pulling, but I worry about the comfort, it can ride up into the eyes and its another one which doesn’t clip onto the normal collar, so if they get the headcollar off they are running free. Nonetheless, if you are just using this as a stop gap while you work on the loose leash method described here this one is a good price and will certainly do the job in the short term. Comes in two colours and three sizes, and it is adjustable.
Probably one of the original products of its kind the Halti has been around for a long time. It comes in a range of sizes and colours too, and there are padded and unpadded ones. The one I have reviewed is the padded one, because I simply don’t feel that the unpadded one provides sufficient comfort across the nose for the dog. It can ride up into the eyes, but it does have a clip to attach to the normal collar, which means that if you do have a Houdini on your hands you still have your dog attached to the leash. Its adjustable to ensure a good fit and again it is reasonably priced, so if you’re looking for a short term solution while you work on training then this might fit the bill.
|Fit||Effectiveness||Comfort||Ease of Fitting||Price £||Score out of Ten|
|Canny Collar||Good, but needs leash to be taut at all times or dog can get it off||Very good, stops pulling straight away.||Okay, nose band is not padded.||Takes a bit of getting used to, especially when you have a dog trying to wriggle its way out of it.||15 - 18||8|
|Dogmatic||Excellent.||Excellent, stops pulling straight away.||Very good, whole collar is made from comfortable padded webbing. Does not ride up.||Simple, one clip to secure and release.||25||10|
|Gencon||Very good, one size fits all.||Very good, stops pulling quickly.||Nose band is not padded, so less comfortable than other brands.||Very simple.||22||8|
|Gentle Leader||Good, adjustable.||Very good, stops pulling quickly.||No padding and can ride up into eyes.||Takes a little getting used to at first.||7-12||6|
|Halti||Good, adjustable.||Very good, stops pulling quickly.||Padded version is better than the unpadded, but both can ride up into eyes.||Takes a little getting use to at first.||7-10||7|
All of these products will do the job, it really comes down to whether you are looking for a cheap short term solution, or whether you’d prefer to spend a bit more for a product that will be more comfortable for your dog in the longer term. As I said at the beginning I’ve only reviewed the five products that I have personal experience of. I’d love to hear your feedback on the products I’ve listed above, or any others that you have found that are particularly good. As always any feedback, questions or suggestions are welcome in the box below.