*     Products | Articles | Clicker Training | Go Shopping! *     RECT        

Even John Wayne Used a Halter

About 10 thousand years ago, some bronze age fellow decided that oxen and horses were just too darned big to drag around, by the neck. So, he, or she, invented the halter. A halter, in its barest essence, is a contraption that  allows one to control an animal's head, from underneath its chin. This slick little invention led to all sorts of neat things, like horse races, Macedonian Cavalry and the Pony Express. While Alexander the Great could casually  control a thousand pound war horse, by the chin, his kennel masters were being hauled across the landscape by 200 pound war dogs -- hooked up at the neck. 2500 years later, somebody decided that dogs weren't so  different from horses and we finally got halters for dogs.

If you are the "No pain, no gain, my dog is supposed to ruin my life," sort of person, the experience of being  dragged by a dog is probably not a problem. For those of us with lower back trouble, the desire to take a SLOW walk, the issue is pretty important – not to mention how the dog feels about choking on a regular basis.

 To understand why a halter is a superior way of connecting your dog to a leash, consider a nautical analogy. Take a powerful motor boat and tie a stout rope to the tip of the bow. Now secure the other end of the rope to a dock.  Tell the driver to give the boat full throttle and try to pull away from the dock. As the boat bucks and tugs against the rope, the forward movement is redirected. The harder the boat pushes against the rope, the more the stern  wants to swing, left or right. All of the power of the engines is redirected.

When a dog wears a halter, this redirection prevents the dog from moving forward, unless you want him to.  Instead of a sharp snap of a choke chain (i.e. a karate chop to the throat) to dissuade the dog from tugging, a gentle pull is all that is needed. For dogs that are aggressive toward other dogs, in public, the halter is the most  efficient and safest way to give the owner control.

There are two basic designs of head halters for dogs. The first is the Gentle Leader, designed by Dr. R.K.  Anderson, a veterinarian, and Ruth Foster, a long time obedience instructor. The Gentle Leader consists of a regular collar, with a loose fitting nose loop that allows you to clip the leash under the dog's chin.

 The other major brand of head halter is the Halti, designed by Dr. Roger Mugford, also a veterinarian. The Halti is an integrated collar/nose loop that includes cheek straps to hold the nose loop in place.

 Each type works well as a way of controlling a dog. The Gentle Leader comes in three sizes and is very adaptable to the different shapes and sizes of various dog breeds. The Halti comes in five sizes. Because of the integrated  design, the fit of the collar is not very adjustable.

On the strength side of the coin, the Gentle Leader comes out on top. I once used the two collars, side by side on  two adult Newfoundlands, who had a history of serious aggression. The cheek strap on the Halti blew out, leaving me with one hand holding the leash of a very controlled dog on the Gentle leader, and the other hand, holding a  leash connected to an empty collar. When a Halti disintegrates, the dog is easily capable of slipping out of whatever remains. In more than eight years of using Gentle Leaders, with dog as big as 200 pound Mastiffs, I have  never known of one to break. If your dog is medium sized, not aggressive toward other dogs, and just needs a little control while walking, either collar will work. If you need extra control, for a larger breed, or unpredictable  behavior, the Gentle Leader is probably the better tool.

A unique feature of the Gentle Leader is its ability to quickly convert from a halter into a regular collar, and then  back to a halter. Some dogs adapt so well to a halter, that they can then reliably go back to wearing a regular collar. The Gentle Leader can make this transition almost seamless, while retaining the option of control, on  demand. The Halti makes this a little more difficult, but not impossible. To make the transition with a Halti, it is a good idea to have two collars on the dog. By switching the leash back and forth between the Halti and the regular  collar, the dog can be taught to avoid pulling, even with only the regular collar.

If you are interested in using a halter to solve your pet's pulling problem, here are a few tips that can make the transition easier…

 · Use lots of food treats while teaching the animal to be comfortable wearing the collar. Make sure the dog will wear the collar, calmly before attempting to go for a walk.

 · Never snap the leash the way you would with a choke chain. The correct movement is a firm, steady, pull – and quick release. The halter gives you far more leverage than a traditional collar – jerking it sharply, or letting the dog  hit the end of the leash, hard, is not advised.

· The best use of a halter is as a walking collar. Leaving it on the dog, while unattended, may lead to problems, such as a chewed halter.

 To get a halter for your dog, you can get Gentle Leaders from J&J Dog Supplies   http://www.jandjdog.com Halti collars are available from the R.C. Steele Catalog.


Top | Home | Products | Articles | Clicker Training | Go Shopping!