One of the most common issues I hear about with the Gentle Leader is dogs don’t like to wear it. They paw at it, rub their snouts along the ground and can’t wait to get it off. This can be a huge problem if your dog is a puller and you need the help a Gentle Leader can provide. The good news is you can change your dog’s reaction to the Gentle Leader. I’m going to talk to the ladies for a moment – Remember back in the day when you put on that first bra? Oh jeez, I couldn’t imagine the agony of having to wear one every day for the rest of my life. It was constricting and I couldn’t wait to get it off at the end of the day.
Sound familiar? But once you have an appropriate size and fit, it keeps the girls in their place or even better… makes them look Fab-U-lous! It was then you realized how wonderful a good bra can be (at least until they discontinue your favorite style and you can’t find it anywhere but that’s a blog for another day). The point is that you not only got used to wearing one, but may even love your bra. We can help our dog feel the same way about their Gentle Leader.
O.K. guys, I know you probably aren’t getting this so think about wearing a necktie. The first tip in acclimating your pup to wearing the Gentle Leader is to take it slow. I mean, your dog has probably been pulling you down the street for quite some time, so will a few extra days really make a difference? I’m all about giving dogs choices. So, get out your Gentle Leader and some very small yummy treats, like bits of Romano cheese, hot dog or peanut butter on a spoon. Hold the nose loop open and invite your dog to place his snout through the loop.
When your dog puts his nose even partially in the loop say yes and give him a treat. No pressure -- just let him choose. If he doesn’t, remove the Gentle leader for a few seconds and try again. You may simply try getting the dog to just touch the Gentle Leader at first. Remember, you are not in a hurry.
Present the Gentle Leader
Present the treat
Let the dog come through on their own
Practice this once or twice a day just before dinner so your dog is hungry. To avoid adding extra calories to their daily intake, replace a portion of their regular meal with the treats you use for this training. Once he is happily putting his nose into the loop you can begin fastening the neck strap and letting him eat his dinner with the Gentle Leader on. Take it off at the end of the meal. This will help your dog associate the Gentle Leader with something they like – dinner!
Repeat this until your dog acts happy and excited to put on the Gentle Leader for dinner then repeat it two more days. In days, you will be ready to begin transitioning to wearing the Gentle Leader during walks. Now hold on, you still have a little work to do because we want your pup to continue loving the head collar. So, the first thing you want to do is review proper fit. The neck strap should be high and snug on your dog, just behind the ears.
It should be snug enough so it does not rotate. This will keep it from rubbing or chafing. Next, the nose loop should fit loose enough so the strap can slide down to the fleshy part of the dog’s nose but it won’t come off over the snout. The dog should be able to open its mouth normally.
Now that the fit is correct, the next very important part of this equation is how you handle the leash. Whenever you are walking your dog, think about the name of this product – Gentle Leader. You want to gently direct your dog to walk near you and reward him with a loose leash and a tasty treat when he does. Be very conscious about keeping a loose leash as much as possible. This will help the training equipment be part of the communication between you and the dog instead of an annoying, new thing on their face.
Of course each person and dog will have a different experience. I have three dogs and each reacted differently to the Gentle Leader and getting acclimated to wearing it. If you ever need to talk with someone here at Premier, we are here to help so please give us a call.