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All of you who have used a Gentle Leader headcollar, successfully AND unsuccessfully, could you please post any advice, tips/tricks, problems, resolutions, helpful advice, anything that would be helpful for me? Most of you know I hate head collars and dog halters but I'm giving it a go as advised by my trainer. Any info would be useful for me at this point as I've never even seen one put on.
 

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Hi, Diane -

I have seen great success with gentle leaders as long as they are fit and used properly. They are a great temporary equalizer for dog vs human strength.

Did you get a booklet or a video with yours? Even better, do you have any good trainers nearby that would help you fit it?

Good fit and slow introduction are important.

The piece that fastens behind the ears should fit snugly. It is not like a collar - you don't want to be able to slip your fingers between the collar and the dog's head. If you can it is too loose.

The nose loop should also be snug and should fit behind the lips. When properly fitted, you can pull the top of the nose loop toward the nose and it should just barely reach the nose leather.

People tend to want to keep it loose. In that case, the gl can slip off and the nose loop slips around, irratating the dog's nose.

Unless the person has fit a lot there can be a lot of trial and error until the fit is correct. If so, don't do it all at once. Give the dog treats each time you put it on and remove it while fitting it.

When you do get the correct fit, talk a nice short brisk walk. A few feet, treat. Ten steps, treat. Eventually the dog learns that good things happen (like walks) when the gentle leader is placed on the head.

By the way - it is much easier on the trachea than a neck collar is, but there is still potential for damage to the neck if the dog runs out and gets yanked back by accident. The gl should only be used with a regular leash and no distance.

I hope Tom checks in - he used a gl for the first time not long ago with one of his dogs and found success.

Skye only wore hers for a few weeks and we could go to to martingale. In that short a time she would push her head forward to accept the gl as I put it on her. Dogs in our classes usually find the same thing - the handlers get a little dependent on them, but we encourage returning to neck collars as soon as possible.

Hope this helps.

Check Premier's website also - they may have a video showing the fit and use of the gentle leader.
 

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Hi I just started using a GL on my younger dog even though I've always sworn I hated head halters. I hated them b/c I saw too many people use them improperly (too loose and/or the dog straining and bucking against them) and become dependent on them.

My younger dog is quite stubborn and head strong. He is VERY social and anytime there is a new dog or person, he wants nothing more than to meet them. He is a very sweet dog, but he doesn't seem to *get* that it's just not appropriate to always be socializing. He is in a beginner agility class, mainly so we can work on this issue. The first day was a mess because he was on a flat collar, pulling me all over the place. This dog basically lived on a tie-out before we adopted him, so anytime he is on a flat collar, he pulls and pulls.

Since this is an agility class, we are limited in what tools are safe, but I noticed someone else using a Gentle Leader and got permission from the instructor to try it. When we first got it, we kept it on him only a few minutes at a time, and gave him nonstop treats and praise. Now, we can take him on a long walk with limited treats. I do not want to become dependent on it, so I alternate walks using it and using a flat collar. Last walk on the flat, he was a little naughty on the way to the park, but on the way home he was a total angel! I think letting him get a lot of exercise before training his leash walking also helps.

I am happy to say that he has never flipped out, bucked, or tossed his head while wearing the Gentle Leader. The GL = fun agility class, and after class, I take off all his collars and let him play with the dogs, so ultimately he will get what he wants, but I get what *I* want first.

Fit is crucial, but Bonnie has done a great job explaining that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your advice, all. Should I have Renji on a backup collar/leash or if the collar is tight enough, will it stay on if he slips the noseband?

Anne, I know that article well (and probably all the anti-halter articles). Believe you me, I don't like them, but the prong does nothing to redirect him and in fact it eggs him on more. At this point, I don't care if I am using it more as a crutch, it's whatever helps me help him. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, we go on to the next tool/method.
 

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If the head part is properly fit, even if the nose piece slips, that acts as a collar. I was paranoid at first and used this little nylon tab that I connected to his normal flat collar. The GL never budged and the head part fits tighter than his flat collar anyway.

What I like about the GL is that even though it is somewhat of a crutch, it gives me WAY more opportunities to treat and praise Coke than if I were using a flat or a prong. He already has better manners on a flat collar.
 

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i don't like the head collars and halters either. i think you should teach your dog to walk properly on and off the leash. head collars and halters can be used as taining tools, yes??? how old is the dog you're going to use the head collar on and why did the trainer suggest it??
 

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Doggiedad, I totally agree with you 100%. Having said that..

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=731550&Main=57382

That's why. It's not about teaching him to walk properly, it's about careful management of his head, keeping him from staring at things that set him off, etc. It will be used to help desensitize him to people and animals. When he's focused on something, prong corrections do little more than egg him on further, also my trainer said that to Renji, every single time he sees a "threat, he gets corrected, thus enforcing that threats are bad. With the head collar, he's not going to get the chance to remain focused on them as ideally I'll be able to move him away and keep his eyes off the "threat" so I can get him into a "zone of less/no reaction" and do some positive work with him. We're not sure how old he is, probably close to adult mental maturity which would explain why as time passes, he seems to regress.
 
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Bonnie gave you some excellent advice (as always).

I just wanted to add that the Gentle Leader was the only thing I could use to start Frigga training. Nothing else was working and I tried them all as I had with other dogs. Finally in desperation I decided to try something new and it worked! If you follow the training guide for the GL you can do a great deal with it. Eventually I was able to move Frigga up to an adjustable slip collar and just recently she has passed her off lead tests with me. For us the GL was a godsend.
 

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i have used both the GL headcollar and the GL easywalk harness. Both were good training tools and my boy has been walking nicely for some tme without using them. The HC was really quick to stop the pulling, but took a few days of gradual introduction and desensitization to get it so he didn't freak him out. Within six weeks we were of the GL walking very nice on lead with a regular buckle collar.

We found the GL harness fantastic for running on lead training. it is the absolute best product I've ever found for running training. I won;t run Midnight with any type of head collar and the regular halter harness didn't do anything. With the harness he running with commands perfectly in not long at all. It was great for me as I want my dog to run directly in front of me with a small lead on me.

the instructions on both are good and the premier website has tons of helpful stuff to. The GL harness is easy to fit and has a color coded strap system to to make it quick to put on and take off. the dvd on the HC package is well worth watching, but you can find a lot of good videos on their website too.

I liked both a lot but I followed the instructions carefully and was careful to wean us off the HC and EW. Make sure you use it as a tool to teach and not a crutch to depend on. There's a lady at our obedience place who has just never gotten off the GL so her dog is still a monster without one on.
 

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I always use the GL with a harness instead of a buckle collar for backup. I find I can much easier control the dog that way, espec. when you're dealing with oversized and very strong dogs. With the harness I can also manage the dog better to walk next to me, and it gives me a much better grip on the dog overall.

But I think most important is, to get the dog used to wearing a GL by starting with short, rewarding episodes inside, atleast a week before going for an actual walk.
 

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i have used both the GL headcollar and the GL easywalk harness. Both were good training tools and my boy has been walking nicely for some tme without using them. The HC was really quick to stop the pulling, but took a few days of gradual introduction and desensitization to get it so he didn't freak him out. Within six weeks we were of the GL walking very nice on lead with a regular buckle collar.

We found the GL harness fantastic for running on lead training. it is the absolute best product I've ever found for running training. I won;t run Midnight with any type of head collar and the regular halter harness didn't do anything. With the harness he running with commands perfectly in not long at all. It was great for me as I want my dog to run directly in front of me with a small lead on me.

the instructions on both are good and the premier website has tons of helpful stuff to. The GL harness is easy to fit and has a color coded strap system to to make it quick to put on and take off. the dvd on the HC package is well worth watching, but you can find a lot of good videos on their website too.

I liked both a lot but I followed the instructions carefully and was careful to wean us off the HC and EW. Make sure you use it as a tool to teach and not a crutch to depend on. There's a lady at our obedience place who has just never gotten off the GL so her dog is still a monster without one on.
How did you wean your dog off the Gentle Leader? I am trying to decide what the next step is, Gentle Leader or prong, because the martingale isn't cutting it.

He's a 6 months old working line GSD (about 50 lbs). I want him to learn how to walk nicely off leash with stellar obedience (ahh the dream) so I don't want to rely on either the Gentle Leader or a prong for obedience and good behavior ...

Thanks!
 

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Aw ... an "opening!" In as much as you asked for advice on a GL??? I got nothing .... but a Martingale ... most likely they have been "over sold" in my view. They are simply a tool designed to keep "slippery" headed dogs from "chucking" a standard collar collar at will!

I had a "Boxer/Pit" mix that could do that, he merely wore a standard collar to humor me! If a "situation" came up he would chuck, his standard collar at will??? A "Stay and Down" solved the issue of his unexpected freedom ... but it was annoying. A Martingale, would have stopped him from being able to do that!

If your expectations for a "Martingale" were more that that ... then yeah ... you are going to be disappointed.

Any given "tool" does not train a dog ... the owner and how it's used does. :)
 

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My trainer for my lab mix suggested a Gentle Leader head collar. It worked great. He didn't pull at all anymore and was really good about walking next to me. With that being said I would randomly switch it up and use his normal collar and he would pull horribly. It worked great for what I needed it for but it didn't seem like their was an easy way to train them back to a normal collar. I have been going to a different trainer and she suggested I use a prong collar instead and so I did. In the beginning I felt like I really needed it but towards the end of the 8 week training class the trainer was having me slowly switch back to a normal collar because she saw how well he was doing.
My biggest pet peeve about the Gentle Leader is everyone thought it was a muzzle and that he was a mean dog. My dog loves people and other dogs and everyone was scared to come near him.
 

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We used the gentle leader when max was about 5 months. It was suggested by our trainer as he was a puller. Gentle leader along with training taught helped him use his brain. It took about a week and the only thing I didn't like was yes it looked like a muzzle. We just would switch on and off with regular collar as they get the message not to pull right away using the gentle leader. It's important to have it fitted right and use the cd it comes with for instructions. As he grew and become larger he still walks like a gentleman my 13 year old can jog him but I still like to use a herm sprenger neck tech martingale when out for walks. If used right and used with training I can't see how it can be dangerous unless misused. It's is not for everybody an you have to see how your pup responds to it. I have not used it on a large dog just a 4-5 month old pup and have no complaints.
 

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What works for some and not for others does not mean it's wrong. I'm a incredible softy and never would cause my dog any distress or pain. You have to know to if the pup/dog is incredibly stressed or not. Like I said it's not for anybody. I can find articles where walking a dog with a flat collar - yes a flat collar or a slip collar is incredibly dangerous and cruel and damaging. Do I believe this article and am monster if I walk my dog in a flat collar. No -but I know if anything used around the neck incorrectly and over time can be damaging just like anything else- needs to be used correctly with training.
http://clicktreat.blogspot.com/2012/06/is-it-harmful-to-attach-aleash-to-your.html?m=1
I'm not endorsing harnesses just showing you can find a negative article about anything- even using a leash. Just be wise in whatever you use.
 

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What works for some and not for others does not mean it's wrong. I'm a incredible softy and never would cause my dog any distress or pain. You have to know to if the pup/dog is incredibly stressed or not. Like I said it's not for anybody. I can find articles where walking a dog with a flat collar - yes a flat collar or a slip collar is incredibly dangerous and cruel and damaging. Do I believe this article and am monster if I walk my dog in a flat collar. No -but I know if anything used around the neck incorrectly and over time can be damaging just like anything else- needs to be used correctly with training.
Dogmantics Dog Training Blog: Is it harmful to attach a leash to your dog?s neck?
I'm not endorsing harnesses just showing you can find a negative article about anything- even using a leash. Just be wise in whatever you use.
yes, used incorrectly any collar can cause damage.
the problem with head halters is that dogs aren't horses. Even a slight bit of pulling can cause muscle damage. A dog that is a determined puller or who suddenly makes a lunge at something that catches their attention can end up with a broken neck.
The act of giving a correction with a gentle leader can cause muscle damage, even when used as corrected.

This is a much better article that explains the problem of head halters in dogs. The Problem With Head Halters | Relationship Centered Dog Training by Suzanne Clothier

and the health risks of a dog even WEARING a "no-pull" harness, even without being given a correction.

The No-Pull Debate | Whole Dog Journal
 

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the "stress" caused by a head halter isn't noticed by a lot of people. that instantly subdued attitude that everyone raves about when using a head halter? that is a sign of stress.
the positioning of the collar alone is a constant pressure on points of "correction" so the dog is getting a mild form of correction just wearing the device. Add in the weight of the leash clip and you have even more correction. And that is before you even start training.
 
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