How to fit a head halter
Kim L Rance, Cert3 Dog Behaviour Dip Aqua
There are slight differences to fitting in the different types of head halters, here we will discuss the two most common types, Halti’s and Gentle Leader’s.
All head halters work by putting pressure on certain pressure points on your dogs head and neck, these work to calm the dog down.
How to fit a Halti
Firstly, just focus on the neck part of the Halti. Fit this part around your dogs neck just behind the ears so that you can fit only 2 fingers between the neck and Halti strap (see Picture1).
Once the neck part is fitted tightly you are ready to place the nose part over your dogs’ muzzle, this should fit on the top of your dogs’ muzzle, just in front of the eyes, it should not be able to reach as far forward as your dogs nose or your dog will be able to pull the Halti off.
Picture1. Neck Strap fitted correctly, note that only two fingers fit under the collar
Halti sizes are very generous, generally speaking you should purchase one size down to the recommendations on the package, unless you have a very large dog of your individual breed.
How to fit a Gentle Leader
As with the Hatli you must fit the neck part of the head halter first, however, unlike the Halti you should only be able to fit one finger(seePicture2) between your dogs’ neck and the Gentle Leader strap.
Once this is fitted correctly you need to fit the nose strap, there is a locking mechanism on the nose strap to ensure that the nose strap (see Picture3) is not able to loosen off enough to be pulled off the nose altogether. Place the nose strap on your dogs’ muzzle, move the locking mechanism up to just below your dogs’ muzzle and lock it in place, as with the Halti it is important that the nose strap does not reach as far forward as your dogs’ nose.
|Picture2. Neck Strap fitted properly, only one finger fits under the collar||Picture3. Nose Strap attached, see locking strap directly under muzzle|
Getting your dog used to having a Head Halter Fitted
It is normal for dogs to not want a head halter on to start with, this is a foreign item attached to their head and takes a little while to get used to.
To make it easier for your dog hold a small piece (or a few pieces, if needed) of tasty food in the palm of your hand though the muzzle part of the head halter (see picture 4), as your dog moves to get the treat from your palm he will automatically put his muzzle into the head halter (see picture 5), slowly slip the head halter up your dogs nose (see picture 6) until it is resting there without your assistance, reward your dog heavily at this stage, lots of verbal praise and treats. Practice this a few times until your dog does not mind the collar going over his muzzle then clip the neck strap together and reward heavily again. Allow your dog to wear the head halter for a few minutes
|Picture4. Treat in palm with hand inside the muzzle part of the Halti||Picture5. Dog’s nose moves forward to get to the treat, placing his muzzle inside the Halti||Picture6. Slide Halti over dog’s muzzle|
Using Head Halters
Unlike other dog training collars it is important to not give quick pops or jerks on head halters, they are designed to be used by pressure adding pressure when your dog is not performing as required and being loose when your dog is performing, for instance there is pressure on the head halter when your dog is pulling on lead and there is no pressure when your dog is walking nicely next to or with you. Or if your dog is refusing to obey a command he knows, like sit, you put pressure on the head halter (see picture7), as soon as your dog obeys the command the pressure is taken off (see picture8).
|Picture7. Pressure on Gentle Leader as dog refuses to obey sit command||Picture8. Pressure removed from Gentle Leader as dog obeys sit command|