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Taking your dog for their daily walk means that only do you get out in the fresh air, but you get to spend quality time with your best canine bud. However, while we all like to think our pooch is a joy to walk, if you have a high-energy or strong dog, you’ll know that’s not always the case. Exercising an over-enthusiastic dog can be exhausting – if this sounds like you, then help is at hand, in the form of a dog head halter. Designed to take the strain out of walking your dog, head halters give you greater control over your pooch. But you need to get the right type and know how to use them properly to get the very best out of walkie time with your dog. We check out some of the best dog head collars you can buy, to give you a head start.
Devised by a veterinary behaviorist, PetSafe’s Gentle Leader is a top head collar for most dog sizes. Made from durable nylon with a neoprene padded nose loop and quick-release neck strap, this adjustable head halter fits like a treat. With the comfort nose band, you get gentle yet effective muzzle pressure when your pooch pulls, spread across the loop. Available in five sizes, from petite (for pups under five pounds) to extra-large hounds topping 130, this cost-effective dog harness could be just what you need to rein in your energetic or moderately aggressive pooch and enjoy your exercise time together. With a one-year chew damage replacement deal, it is also one of the best back up head collars when needed.
With its cushioned noseband and lightweight design, the Halti Head Collar has been a leading halter for many years, and it’s easy to see why. The design works with all dog sizes, and gives the right level of comfort and pressure to ensure you remain in control. Waterproof, with reflective webbing and no metal pieces around your dog’s face, the Halti also features a safety link that clips on to your pooch’s neck collar for extra security. The Halti harness is also easy to fit and adjustable and once in place, doesn’t ride up or slip. Used in conjunction with the Halti Training Lead, the head halter is also a good way to train your enthusiastic young pooch and is available in a choice of five different sizes.
While not a halter for your dog’s head, we thought we’d include this vest collar from Sporn as an alternative should your dog fail to gel with the head collar style. Made from tough nylon, with nickel-plated steel fasteners and braided cord, the Sporn Step-in Dog Halter enables you to manage your pulling pooch by using the pressure from the halter under their front legs to bring them to a stop. Ideal for larger dogs, the leg straps are covered with Sherpa sleeves, so his comfort is ensured. We also like the simple ‘step-in’ design for minimal stress on your pet and it’s adjustable for the perfect fit. This dog halter is also a great training alternative to the head halter or choke collar and when you no longer need the leg restraints, the whole vest can be converted into an ordinary dog harness.
Our Premium Pick is this rope-style halter from Dog & Field that uses a figure of eight design to keep your pulling dog gently in check. Made from a soft braided nylon, the halter is durable yet kind on your pet’s head. Fitting the Figure 8 Anti-pull halter is quick and easy; slip it over your dog’s head like a slip leash and the second loop goes over their nose, then slide the safety stop down the lead to get the perfect fit. It may seem an expensive piece of kit for what seems to be a simple rope, but the design is well thought out and effective in its job. Perhaps not for very young dogs but for your average ‘puller’ or over-bouncy dog, this is a good buy.
For a good value dog head halter that’s gentle but effective, check out this harness from Walk n Train. Made from a durable nylon that’s not too chunky, this head halter is available in a choice of six sizes, all adjustable to fit. The nose band sits high enough to prevent slipping and there’s an added safety strap that attaches to your pooch’s ordinary collar. Controlling your dog’s movement is smooth and the nose band padded enough to keep your dog’s nose protected. The nose band is on the smaller side so do check your sizings, especially if you have a wide-snouted dog so you get the right fit. This is a good buy for dogs that are average pullers or are not overtly aggressive.
Designed for heavier dogs or the more ‘extreme puller’ this large Head Dog Halter from Sporn can really make a difference to that daily walk. And, as it is a halter and ordinary dog collar in one it is also a good choice for the training of a potential puller as it can convert to a neck collar when that extra level of control is not needed. Made from nylon with a padded nose loop, there is nothing too complicated about the Sporn but it does step up to the job when needed. The pressure is enough to regain the balance you need to rein in a strong puller, but the fit and design keeps it kind and comfortable. Available in two sizes, it is fully adjustable and so confident is Sporn in this dog head halter and its ability to stop pulling, that it comes with a lifetime guarantee!
With all the quality features and effective design of PetSafe’s Gentle Leader is known for, this Chic version is also a vision when worn by your dog! Available in three eye-catching designs – including a cute dog bone graphic and a pretty poppy – this is a good buy if you like your dog to look fashion-forward on their walk. But looks aside, this dog head halter performs as you want it to, when it comes to gently bringing a moderately head-strong pooch to heel. Made from durable nylon, you also get a neoprene-padded nose band and the whole halter is fully adjustable for a tailored fit. Add in a matching leash and a training DVD, and you and your furry friend will be ready for a smart-looking stress-free walk in no time.
Whether your dog is head-strong, excitable on their walks or an uncontrollable yapper, the Pawaboo can help to make exercise time a little less stressful for you both. Made from strong nylon and reinforced-stitched, this is a dog head halter that will work well with a more boisterous medium-sized dog. This nose lead for dogs is also durable and while not padded, will make a comfortable fit for your pet. The thread stitching is reflective too, to keep you both visible and safe on your daily walk. The buckles and attachments are also built to be tough and while you do get metal connections near to your pooch’s face, they sit flush to prevent any discomfort. Available in two sizes, this is a good option for your medium sized puller, but do adjust the halter to get the best fit as go too large and it’s prone to slip.
When it comes to comfort, the GoodBoy is up there with the best thanks to its plush neoprene padding running the full length of the nose band. Add in durable nylon and reflective stitching and you have a good-priced head halter for everyday use. With a size for most dogs, it’s also fully adjustable and easy to fit, with quick release buckle and safety strap so that it doesn’t slip off. This is a head collar that can work with large, strong dogs too and while it does look one of the largest collars when worn, it works effectively without causing your pet any discomfort. However, the size of the halter means it won’t fit short snouted breeds.
While it may not look the sleekest dog halter in our review, this nylon head harness is excellent value and is more than up to its job. Best suited to the longer snouted dog, it comes in six sizes so can accommodate both small and larger pooches that are prone to pulling. The nylon is on the wider side but is durable and well-made and there is neoprene padding on the nose strap to keep your dog comfortable on his walk. Everything is connected with steel loops for added strength, including the under-chin leash hook and there is a plastic quick release buckle on the back. The only real downside is the sliding loop under the chin which can slip but for the price, this is a robust head harness for those everyday walks.
For a dog head halter to be effective, you need to consider the following:
Size: The head halter should be the right size for your dog’s face shape otherwise it’s going to cause him discomfort. The halter should stay in place while still allowing full movement of his mouth but shouldn’t be so loose that your dog can pull it off. Also, make sure it’s adjustable for an individual fit for your pooch.
Material: The halter needs to be sturdy but kind on your dog when he wears it. Your dog’s strength will also influence the material you choose. Leather or nylon are both popular choices, with softer nylon best suited to smaller pooches.
Control: The design should give you control of your dog’s head without causing him pain or distress. You can measure the effectiveness of a halter by how easy it is for you to bring your dog’s face towards you, without snapping or excessive pressure. But remember, no matter how effective a dog face harness, you can still hurt your dog if you’re rough or pull too hard.
Comfort: It may take your hound a little getting used to his new head halter so make things a bit easier by ensuring it’s as comfortable as it can be. When walking your dog with no pressure on the halter and the leash nice and loose, he should not really be aware he is wearing it.
Head halters are good if you have an excitable or head strong dog that’s prone to pulling. Here’s why:
Unlike a neck collar, a head halter won’t choke your pooch.
It helps you to control the direction of your dog’s head, making it easier to direct his body and where you want him to go.
It reduces the strain on your arms when walking a strong or pulling dog.
The increased level of control makes the dog head halter a good option to use with dogs that may be reactive, aggressive, or distracted by things going on around them, as you can direct their head away from any potential ‘action’.
How to Train Your Dog to Wear a Head Halter
At first, your dog may find wearing a head halter strange so the key to training them to accept it is to take your time:
When first putting the dog head halter on, do it slowly, praising and rewarding his good behavior with a few treats. Let him sniff it first and never force it on to him as this will just put negative associations in his head from the get-go.
He may well try to get the halter off with his paws at first, so keep his attention by getting him moving once it’s on. A short walk around the back yard, with praise and a couple of treats should get you both off to a good start.
It’s going to take your dog a little time to get used to the halter, especially the muzzle pressure, so don’t overdo it. Handle his lead and halter carefully and be sure you know the proper way to use the halter so you can let him know what you want him to do.
Don’t go from a short session in the garden to a full-on walk too soon, but slowly build up the time he spends wearing the halter.
When you’re happy with the way your pooch is responding to the halter and he’s not showing signs of distress, start taking him out, building up the length of time you both go out for a walk so you always have a happy comfortable hound.
A: A head halter is a harness for your dog’s head, similar to a head collar for a horse. A dog halter will have straps around the nose and behind the ears and his leash attaches to the bottom of the nose strap. A dog halter can help stop your dog from pulling, as they can’t put as much weight behind their head as they can against a neck collar or body harness. When your dog pulls, the head halter will put pressure on the top of his muzzle, pulling his chin down. The pressure is then released when they stop pulling.
Q: How to measure a dog for a head halter?
A: A dog head halter should give your pet sufficient room to pant, eat, yawn, drink, and play. A good guide is that if your dog can’t hold a ball in his mouth while wearing a head halter, then it’s too tight. You also need to ensure it doesn’t ride up into his eyes or slip down his muzzle. When fitting your dog for a head halter, measure the circumference of their muzzle as well as their neck. If in any doubt, pop into your pet store to get expert advice.
Q: Can a head collar hurt my dog?
A: A head halter shouldn’t hurt your dog as long as it fits well. However, tugging too hard on the leash can cause your pet discomfort and potential pain, so make sure you know how to properly handle the head collar to keep your pet happy. And for his safety and comfort, always take the dog head collar off when you are back home.
Our Top Pick
Created by a dog behaviorist and with a gentler approach to controlling a pulling dog, the Gentle Leader is one of the best all-round head halters for dogs. Made from nylon with a padded nose strap, your pooch should react well to this dog head halter. Fully adjustable with a quick-release neck strap and a one-year guarantee to replace if it gets chew-damaged, this is a great choice for energetic dogs of all sizes.