One of the most common issues we 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. Taking time to get your dog comfortable with the headcollar is really the first step in fitting it correctly.
Get Your Dog Used to the Headcollar
The first tip in acclimating your pup to wearing the Gentle Leader is to take it slow. Your dog has probably been pulling you down the street for quite some time, so will a few extra days really make a difference?
- Get out your Gentle Leader Headcollar and some very small yummy treats, like bits of romano cheese, hotdogs, 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, just remove the Gentle Leader Headcollar for a few seconds and try again.
- You may simply try getting the dog to just touch the Gentle Leader at first. Remember, you're not in a hurry.
- Practice this once or twice a day just before dinner so your dog is hungry.
- Once your dog 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 Headcollar with something they enjoy – dinner!
- Repeat this for a few more days until your dog acts happy and excited to put on the Gentle Leader Headcollar for dinner.
Fit the Headcollar
Before you completely transition to using the Gentle Leader on a walk, you will want to make sure it is fit correctly.
- 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.
- The nose loop should fit loose enough so the strap can slide down to the fleshy part of your dog’s nose but it won’t come off over the snout. Your dog should be able to open his mouth normally.
- Adjust how big the nose loop is with the nose loop clamp. Be sure to close the nose loop clamp securely so your dog can’t sneak his nose out of the loop.
- Attach your leash to the O-ring and head out for your walk!
Attach the Leash & Start Your Walk
When you have the fit of the Gentle Leader Headcollar correctly, the next very important part of this equation is how you handle the leash.
- Hold the leash so your dog has enough slack to walk by your side but not enough to rush ahead.
- When your dog pulls, redirect your dog’s attention back to you.
- Once he is back in the Heel position, reward your dog with a treat and then continue walking.
- You may have to redirect your dog a lot at first, but with some patience, consistency, and rewards, your dog will quickly learn how to walk nicely on the leash.
Remember, no tension plus a loose leash means you should reward your dog with a small treat and praise. Tension with a tight leash means you should gently redirect your dog back into Heel position beside you. With a correct fit and proper leash techniques, the Gentle Leader Headcollar will help you both enjoy walks together.