When shopping for a head collar, you’re likely to run across two brands: the Halti and the Gentle Leader.
Most dog owners are likely to be somewhat familiar with the Gentle Leader, as they’ve been around a long time and are relatively popular.
Gentle Leaders were originally only available for professional trainers and veterinarians but soon found their way to pet stores all across the world.
Gentle Leaders have a very simple design- they attach around your dog's neck and then around their snout. The leash clips to the Gentle Leader right below your dog's chin, discouraging pulling and inspiring your dog to walk nicely on the leash.
The Halti head collar is a relative newcomer to the world of dog training accessories and is a little more complex than the Gentle Leader.
Haltis often have two straps- one wraps around the base of your dog's skull and then circles around their nose. The Halti then has a strap that extends from the base of your dog's chin and connects directly to their collar.
The leash is then linked to the strap that connects to the collar, taking some of the pressure off the dog’s head and neck.
Haltis and Gentle Leaders are actually two very similar products, and choosing between the two often comes down to personal preference.
That being said, there are differences in the way the two brands fit, and pros and cons for each.
Knowing what makes the Halti and Gentle Leader different can help you in making a final decision on which would work best for your dog.
Video Explaining What Head Collars Are Used For:
The Halti Head Collar
Extended Video Explaining How Halti Collars Work:
- The Halti tends to fit a little more loosely than a Gentle Leader, which means your dog might tolerate it better. While dogs need to get used to any type of head collar, some may respond more positively to one that feels a little less restrictive, like the Halti.∙
- The strategic location of the leash ring (right under your dogs chin, but also attached to the collar) gives you a little more leverage when you guide your dog, and lowers the risk that you may accidentally turn their neck too sharply.
- The looser fit of the Halti is a double-edged sword- while it allows for more mobility, it also means that it may be easier for your dog to back out of it. If your dog is a little Houdini, or is especially rambunctious and resistant to a head collar, the Halti may not be the best choice.∙
- The Halti is not easily adjustable, and may not fit all dogs (the newer models are more adjustable than the older ones, but they are still more restrictive.)
The Gentle Leader
- The Gentle Leader has been around a long time and has a large variety of colors to choose from.
- There are many resources at your disposal to help you learn how to successfully utilize the Gentle Leader.
- Because of its simple design, the Gentle Leader is easy and fast to get on and off. If your dog isn’t thrilled by the notion of wearing one, having a head collar that’s easy to slip on could save you a lot of hassle.
- The Gentle Leader, when worn correctly, fits very snugly. This is great for dogs that might otherwise try and weasel their way out of a head collar, but some dogs might not like feeling so restricted. You know your dog- if you suspect your dog will resist if the head collar is snug, you may be better off with a Halti.
- The Gentle Leader, as the name implies, is a little gentler on your dog, but also offers you less control over your dog’s movements while out for a walk.
Traditionally, dog behaviorists and owners have preferred the Gentle Leader.
However, the Halti is quickly gaining in popularity due to a new feature (the ability to attach the head collar to a regular collar around the dog's neck) that allows for better control and is an added safety measure.
Overall, it comes down to personal preference and your dog’s individual needs.
The Gentle Leader and Halti are similar and, if used correctly, both achieve the same results. Your final decision will depend largely on your dog’s personality and your feelings about head collars (comfort vs. control, etc.)
Are there alternatives to the Halti and Gentle Leader?
Yes! There is another product out there called the Infinity Lead, which is similar to both the Gentle Leader and the Halti head collar but is much simpler and more adjustable.
The Infinity Lead is essentially a leash/head collar combo and forms a “figure eight” around your dog’s neck and nose.
It attaches to your dog's regular collar as well, for added support and control.
The big difference between the Infinity Lead and any other head collar is that the portion you hold (the leash part) attaches to the top of your dogs head, right behind their ears, rather than underneath their chin.
The Infinity Lead is a great option because it’s totally adjustable (though it still won’t work on brachycephalic / flat nosed breeds).
Some dogs may object to a leash dangling on the side of their face, in their peripheral vision (which is a drawback to both the Gentle Leader and the Halti)- a problem that is eliminated with the Infinity Lead.
The Infinity Lead also feels lighter and less constrictive to your dog- so they may be more receptive to wearing it!
A Final Word on Head Collars & Our Recommendation
Overall, we recommend starting out with the Gentle Leader. They are simply designed, easy to remove and put on, and there is a plethora of information out there on how to use them correctly.
The Gentle Leader, when used properly as a training tool, serves to gently guide your dog in the right direction, and will help to curb your dog’s “opposition reflex.”
If you’re looking for something a little lighter (or if your dog fights with you whenever you try and put on their Gentle Leader), you should also check out the Infinity Lead.
Many dogs who object to the design of the Gentle Leader will be receptive to the Infinity Lead, as it is closer to a traditional leash and controls your dog from behind, rather than from the side.
If your dog is just exuberant, or if they pull simply out of excitement, you may want to try positive reinforcement training before purchasing to a head collar.
Head collars, no matter the brand, are best for dogs that really need the extra guidance and control to walk properly on a leash.
For dogs that simply get a little rambunctious, a head collar may be overkill.
Whichever model you ultimately choose, it’s important to remember that all head collars are training tools and are not intended to be used indefinitely!
And they certainly are not a cure-all for dogs that misbehave on walks.
The best approach is to combine behavior modification with the use of an aid, such as a head collar, to make your walks easier and more enjoyable for both you and your dog.
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