Proper Use of Canine Head Collars

Purpose of a head collar- by controlling the head, you better control the dog!

Head Collars provide control of the head and mouth. They are not muzzles!

Head Collars also help calm dogs with anxiety or fear, by placing light pressure on acupressure points.

Tyes of head collars:

gentle leader

Gentle Leader (no side bars) - Good for long nosed dogs (Collie, Shepherds)

Restrict mouth opening, can help with "nipping dogs", but not true muzzle


Halti (sidebars, but no chin clip)
Good for square muzzled dogs (Boxer, LAb) who pull, does not restrict mouth opening

walk n train

Walk N Train (formerly Holt)- has side bars and chin clip

Good for most dogs. Controls amount of mouth opening, good for nipping dogs.

Can be fit under a basket muzzle for more aggresive dogs.

We do not reccomend the use of head collars on brachycephalic (short snouted dogs).

Proper Fit

Neck strap should be right behind ears, far up on head, Snug enough to allow 1-2 fingers beneath.

nose check

Nose strap-just tight enough to slide back and forth, but not off. Your dog's mouth should open just enough for you to place your open hand inside. This will allow your dog to pant, drink, or eat small treats.

When you have the head collar properly fit, ALWAYS ATTACH THE LEASH TO THE RING BELOW THE CHIN, AND TO THE DOG'S STANDARD NECK COLLAR! This provides an extra layer of safety, and gives you better control of your dog's head.

Desensitizing your dog


Place your open hand in bottom of nose band, with treat in hand. Hold top of nose band with thumb or other hand.

Have dog place nose in nose band to get treat. Do not try to slide nose band on, but let dog put his own nose in.

Buckle the neck strap, treat dog and remove. Repeat over and over, 10-30 times a day.

When dog no longer resists or paws at head collar, leave on for several seconds. Gradually increase time dog wears.

When dog tolerates head collar for at least 5 minutes, begin walking with head collar.

Walking Tips

When dog pulls, come to complete stop-DO NOT pull back.

If needed, gently pull leash to the side. Dog’s head should turn to the side -hampering forward movement.

Always keep leash between you and dog. Keep leash slack when walking, allowing dog to tighten when pulls.

When leash tightens, you STOP until dog relaxes leash.

When the dog relaxes tension on the leash, praise lavishly and resume walk.

This handout is property of Canine/Feline Behavior Counseling. It can be reprinted with appropriate credit given.

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