Reasons not to buy a Halti

Note: I personally love the Gentle Leader, but it’s not perfect. Thank you to Ty Brown of CommuniCanine for sharing these tips on why he does not recommend a Gentle Leader or a Halti.

I get a lot of flak for this in the dog training community, but I am not a fan of the Halti, Gentle Leader and No-Pull Harnesses. I am currently raging a war of one against these training tools and am losing ground quickly. No worries, though. Like the captain that goes down with the ship, I’ll continue my fight until the bitter end.

In my battle on these training tools I come fully armed with ammunition.

My war on the Halti/Gentle Leader

1. I see these tools as a gimmick.

They rarely teach the concept of proper leash walking. Rather, they tend to teach the dog not to pull while the gimmick is on. There is very little technique used with these tools. For that reason I think of them as a band-aid. They cover up the problem but do very little to fix it.

When I am helping a client teach his or her dog to walk on a loose leash, I use training tools such as a pinch collar, flat collar or slip collar.

With those collars, though, I teach my clients a great deal of technique. Technique is what teaches the concept of how to walk properly on a leash and what allows that owner to eventually wean the dog off the training collar. When someone depends on a harness or head collar to walk properly, then the owner is forever tied to that implement and the dog has essentially never learned to walk on a loose leash.

Reasons not to use a halti or Gentle Leader

I’m sure there are those who have weaned their dogs off the head halter but they certainly did so using a great deal of technique. Most people will find themselves forever attached to a tool.

2. Haltis and Gentle Leaders are often very uncomfortable and distract the dog from the task at hand: walking!

If I had a nickel for every time a client complained that her dog wouldn’t stop itching at his face and head, scraping his face against the ground or going into a death roll to try to get the material off his head I’d have enough for a meal at McDonald’s – supersized!

A training tool should be like an accessory. It should be a normal thing to which the dog doesn’t pay attention. Many dogs find it hard to ignore a mesh of nylon all over their faces.

3. Head harnesses can worsen aggression issues.


Dogs create associations with the actions they are currently involved in and what they are currently focused on. Dogs that have aggression issues are prone to lunge at the objects of their aggression. In the act of lunging it can be very difficult to control a dog if they are on a head or body harness.

Not only that, but picture what the dog is experiencing. All of his focus is placed on the target of his aggression when suddenly his neck gets twisted from the lunge. Many dogs are prone to associate that pain in their neck with the object of their aggression and therefore the aggression becomes worse.

Many dogs will feel that the object of the aggression caused their pain and therefore they end up having worse feelings for the other dog, person, etc.

I have given several reasons why I am battling these harness style collars. I’m sure there are those who are able to avoid these pitfalls with their training techniques. My experience shows, however, there is a much better way.

Whichever training tools you use with your dog, make sure that you are using them in a humane fashion and ensure they are used as teaching tools rather than punishment tools.

Happy training!

Do any of you use a Halti to walk your dogs?

Check out my interview with Ty on protection dogs and his website Ty the Dog Guy for more info.

63 thoughts on “Reasons not to buy a Halti”

  1. I’m not a fan of the Halti either. I know many people swear by it but it just isn’t for me.

    I think it’s great that you have a guest post up about something that looks to be different than your own opinion. Thanks for bringing all sides of dog training and obedience!

  2. I would listen to what Ty said.

    He helped me train my dog to walk on a leash. He knows what he is talking about. Besides teaching your dog to walk on a leash is a building tool to other commands and good behavior.

    Thanks Ty for being our Captain.

  3. When I adopted my dog Emmett, he had never walked on a leash, so his instinct was to drop low to the ground and pull as hard as he could! We tried an array of products, including the halti. I switched him to a limited slip collar and added the “watch me” command, and we’ve had very pleasant walks ever since!

  4. A friend tried the halti on her St Bernard mix and found that people were terrified of the dog – the halti came across as a muzzle to the uninformed! So it lead to some dirty looks and tedious Q/A sessions. She she just kept working on the dog with a boring flat collar and leash and it did work out. And no gadget addiction!

  5. That is a very interesting view Bonnie, I can see how the halti would give a dog a more ‘aggressive’ look or misunderstood for a muzzle. I think if gives people the idea that there is obviously a reason why the dog is restrained in such a matter, probably assumed to be aggression or lack of training.

  6. If I had a $ for every person who said the GL was a “muzzle” when they see Biggie wearing it!

    I am not a fan of the halti/GL for the same reasons, and I totally agree that Biggie walks better on his collar, and pays more attention. I have been working to wean him off of it and we have our good days and our bad days.

    I totally agree the halti is a band-aid. But in the city, with a partner who is not as inclined to pay attention when he takes Biggie for a walk without me (he texts me sometimes!!), it will unfortunately always be a part of our lives. 🙁 I can make it a smaller part, but I doubt it will ever go away.

  7. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thank you Ty for this great post!

    People think Ace is wearing a muzzle too. I can’t believe how many dog owners have no idea what a head collar is. As for my opinion on them, I totally agree with Ty. Gentle Leaders and Haltis are Band-Aids. They don’t really teach the dog anything except not to pull with it on. But they are an easy fix for people unwilling or unable to train their dogs to walk on a loose leash without them. Some people don’t mind depending on the Gentle Leader all the time. It’s no different than people who depend on choke or prong collars all the time without teaching the dog anything. Lots of dogs walk on a loose leash when they have a Gentle Leader on. For lots of owners, that is good enough.

    My goal has always been to practice heeling no matter what collar my dog is wearing and also when he is off leash.

  8. i would like to say that my dog is very well trained except when walking. we got our dog when he was fully grown, and unfortanly they hadn’t taught him to walk on a lead, in fact he was so fat (had lots of trouble walking and playing) told us he nearly never went for walks. as he is a big dog that pulls my husband tried the choker chain, but i hated it i don’t like chokers as it is any way. i’m only small compared to my dog we’re the same wieght and i often got pulled and draged when he saw another dog (he like to play with every one and anything) so i tried the halti. he liked it. he didn’t try to pull it off, and he never tried to run after other dogs again, i could then teach him to walk next to me saftly with out the fear of being draged. On the other hand my husband dosn’t realy like to use the halti but then he dosn’t mind if a dog pulls on the lead or dosen’t walk next to him.

  9. I’ve never used a halti. I keep Sheba lose as much as I can, and she thrives with the trust. When I see temptations coming up ahead of the road, I make it a game of walking by my side (on a leash). She’ll fancy “heal” for a few minutes before she runs out of patience, but that’s all I need. A Ridgeback often answers to important causes and so when I ask for a “heel” even when she’s lose, she senses the importance and comes to cross the road by my side. Our adopted dog Dennis however can never be let lose (even when I’m on horseback, it’s a tedious having to make sure he follows us all the time) and he hadn’t been trained to walk on the leash either, but I won’t go a step forward with a dog pulling me, so that has quickly been rectified.

  10. Lindsay Stordahl

    Belina, I think if you are more likely to walk your dog while he has the Halti on, then you should definitely keep using it.

    Esther, nice work with never taking a step with a dog pulling you.

  11. What do you recommend them for a 150 pound mastiff puppy, who is still growing?? I weigh 125 pounds and currently cannot take walks with my dog unless it’s super early in the morning or super late at night so no one is on the road otherwise she pulls me all over the place to say hi to everyone. I think the pinch collars are cruel, and she has so much extra skin around her neck, that I don’t feel like I’d be comfortable trying it. I feel the Halti is my only option to be able to walk her at normal times. Any suggestions? I feel like I’m in Belina’s shoes. But it’s just me and my mastiff so I don’t have someone else to help me walk her and don’t want that anyway. Thanks!

  12. Lindsay Stordahl

    If you are not comfortable using a choke collar or prong collar you should continue using the Halti. But don’t just depend on the Halti to get your dog to walk nicely. Begin training her to walk on a loose leash no matter what collar she is wearing.

  13. I do not like haltis, but have a front-attach harness that has made a huge difference. It didn’t retrain my hard-core puller on her own, but the changed attitude about walking with her on it DID make training LLW a LOT easier. When I went back to the collar one day for LLW training, she suddenly wasn’t pulling like she’d used to. Her attitude about what walks were for has changed.

    It is a tool, not a solution. Used properly, it is a big step on the way. Especially for someone with physical handicaps.

  14. Lindsay Stordahl

    I think you make a good point. When used as a training tool, it can work that way. Otherwise it just covers up the problem. I’m glad the harness worked well for you and your dog. Nice work!

  15. you say “any dogs are prone to associate that pain in their neck with the object of their aggression and therefore the aggression becomes worse. Many dogs will feel that the object of the aggression caused their pain and therefore they end up having worse feelings for the other dog, person, etc.” but THIS IS WHAT A CHOKE OR PRONG COLLAR DOES, TOO!! In fact, that is the intention of a choke or prong collar!
    I have used all these collars. In my opinion, the choke collars cause the most permanent damage to the trachea. The prong collars are good, but should never be used with leash aggressive dogs. Saying the head collar is like a band-aid is like saying that a clinically depressed person shouldn’t take antidepressants. It is a tool to help you in a time of need, it doesn’t have to be a permanent fix! If it works to help you train your dog’s mind, then it is a helpful tool to use while you are training! eventually you can wean them off! I have 3 x large dogs and my parents have 5 dogs.

  16. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for your comment, Kathy. I can’t speak for Ty, but I can speak for myself:

    I don’t have a problem with head collars or choke or prong collars as long as they are used properly (I use all three). Actually most people use all of these collars as a Band-Aid instead of a training tool. And for most people, that’s fine because they never intend to stop using that particular collar.

    Of course it’s possible to wean a dog off of a head collar, depending on the person and depending on the dog. But it’s easier to wean a dog off of a choke or prong collar because it’s less obvious to the dog that he’s wearing a training collar. With leash-aggressive dogs, sometimes I use a prong collar and sometimes a head collar, depending on the dog. What is your reason for not using a prong collar with a leash-aggressive dog?

    When a choke or prong collar is used properly, it will not cause the dog any pain. They are not intended to be painful.

  17. I have a 70lb German Shepherd who is going on three years and has never been trained. I adopted her from a man whom I’m assuming got bored with her and “sold” her to me, taking my money and never helping me with her training as promised.

    I’m looking into buying a Halti in order to get her accustomed to going out and about and giving me a bit of an advantage in that mean game of Tug-O-War, and then, once I have a better paying job, getting her into doggie training courses so that she can walk on a leash, should my insurance allow me to keep her.

    Does this sound right?

  18. Lindsay Stordahl

    That sounds like a good plan to me, and you are way ahead of most people. Give the Gentle Leader a try, and if you don’t like it, then try a prong collar which gives you control as well. There will be an adjustment period with the Gentle Leader, so be prepared to act like it’s no big deal while your dog is bucking and resisting it.

    Training classes will be highly beneficial for you and the dog. I highly recommend that. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

  19. While I agree that training your dog to walk without pulling is super important, we have to realize that there is a large percentage of people out there that are not going to take the hours it takes to train there dogs to not pull.

    In the community I live in most of my clients are very wealthy and they do not want to do much training with their dogs at all. They will usually pawn it off on a dog walker, their driver, or the house cleaner. A choke collar or prong collar in the hands of someone that knows nothing about how to use them correctly is worse than anything a halti or gentle leader can do.

    For Ty to say that they are a gimmick, maybe he is right, but saying bar-none they are bad and everyone should just train their dog properly is utopian at best. I would much rather have a world full of haltis and gentle leaders than a world full of amateurs yanking on prong and choke collars without any technique because they are too cheap to take a class. One must be realistic

  20. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks Sean, all good points. I totally agree with you. Even if someone does take the time to walk their own dog, they usually don’t want to put in the time to properly train the dog. In that case, a Gentle Leader or Halti is probably better for both the dog, the owner and anyone they encounter.

  21. It’s so easy for a dog trainer (i.e. someone who works with dogs all day every day as their primary vocation) to be against Haltis etc. but it has saved my relationship with my dog. I have an 85-pound, year-old lab and I weigh 115 pounds. I’m no match for her puppy energy and I can’t bear the thought of a pinch, prong or choke collar. The EasyWalk harness left sores under her arms and a standard harness just meant that she used her body instead of her neck to drag me around.

    The Gentle Leader caused blisters on her nose and I was near my wits end because even though I work with her daily, she’s still stronger than me, plain and simple.

    The Halti is a wonderful accessory to our training and I can walk her with confidence now. Say what you will, but I’m a Halti fan all the way.

  22. Lindsay Stordahl

    I understand your point. Some people just will not use prong collars, and Haltis work very well for certain dogs.

  23. I can see where you would think this might be a bandaid, but its really not. Its just a tool in a dog trainers tool kit. Just like a prong collar or a choke chain is a tool, you slowly wean your dog of a prong collar just the same way you do off a halti. I think that a halti is a much better option than a prong or choke chain. I am a firm believer that I don’t need to inflict pain on my dog to get a behavior that I want. And as far is it causing aggression in dogs that is a bunch of bologna. If anything when a dog lunges at another dog or a child or whatever is triggering its reactivity, someone using a prong or a choke is going to mess up their dog WAY more than someone using a halti, the halit is going to redirect the dog, the person using the prong is going to correct their dog for lunging, then that dog is going to associate other dogs approaching equals a correction.

  24. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with you that all training collars should be used as tools with the ultimate goal of weaning the dog off it.

    The right training collar depends on each individual person and each individual dog. In the wrong hands, a prong collar can cause fear, pain and frustration for a dog, although this is not the purpose of any training collar.

  25. I have two concerns about the “dog training community.” First, as a PhD in Psychology and a psych professor for 12 years, I am stunned by the sheer volume of “self-taught” trainers who abound. I am not suggesting that one needs a degree to be an expert, but in reading Ty’s article, I am struck by the anthropomorphizing that he does, such as “Many dogs will feel that the object of the aggression caused their pain and therefore they end up having worse feelings for the other dog, person, etc.” As a dog owner, I am very aware that my dog has emotional states, but they are very different cognitively, lacking much of the depth and complexity of human emotion. Psychology has long been criticized for generalizing from animal models in research to potential human outcomes. In this case, Ty has generalized from a human model to animal outcomes.

    Second, I have always told my students that research is not only the articles that they read, but the background and credibility of the “expert” who produced the article. In visiting Ty’s website, I read:
    “I have trained security dogs for an inter-nationally recognized clientele. I have trained dogs for NBA, NFL, WWE, and WPGA athletes, politicians, CEO’s, entertainers and more. I have worked with this clientele in 18 states nationwide and in 6 countries world wide. My widely read dog training articles are currently published in dozens of internet dog training sites and in dog training publications and my video and audio dog training program has been used by thousands of dog owners all over the world.”

    Of the testimonials on his website, I notice that despite the client list spanning 18 states and 6 countries, every single testimonial comes from the Beehive State of Utah. Likewise, I do not seen any NFL, NBA, or WWE athletes among the endorsers. As to the claim that his articles are read widely on the internet, when I last checked, the “Dentist Kid” has had 56 million hits on YouTube, while Ty’s most popular YouTube video on Potty Training had a scant 50K hits. In point of fact, I can very virtually no evidence that anything he has ever produced was not self-published and self-promoted.

    Does this mean that he cannot train dogs. Certainly not, but my 12 y/o neighbor (who is not the sharpest tool on the shelf) trained his dog to sit, roll over, speak, shake hands and dance to Burning Love in the course of about two weeks with a handful of kibble and a great deal of affection for his dog. Here’s my bottom line. There are many very good trainers out there and Ty appears to be one of them. Some have impressive credentials, some do not. One thing that I have learned in 12 years of teaching learning theory is there is no uniform method of training that assures that learning occurs. Some things will work in some circumstances that will not work in others. Anyone who has ever had to train animals for an experiment or who has taken a behavior modification course knows and understands that while one rat might like M&M’s another likes Skittles.

    Add to the variation in learner, the variation in teacher and we arrive at the conclusion that Gentle Leaders and Halti’s will work with some human/canine pairs and not with others. I am always circumspect when someone qualifies what they by claiming that they “have lots of ammunition” and then produces little more than opinion based on vague anecdotes. Owners should investigate as much as they can by talking to their vets asking other dog owners what worked for them, and eventually trying what they believe that they can use humanely and consistently.

    1. Loved your comment , I am a student in an animal behavior college and I also recognize how similar behavioral training is between animal and human !

  26. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for your comment. Ty is very well respected as a dog trainer and definitely does not humanize dogs. I do agree that Haltis work well for the right human-dog pair.

  27. Hey guys,
    Lindsay asked me to come back and see if I could offer any input on the comments. Lots of good comments on here.

    Missy- The pinch collar is like any other collar; both cruel and humane. It just depends on the use. I would recommend putting one on your leg to feel it. In my opinion (there are tons that disagree with me) it is the most humane collar because when it is used properly it doesn’t rely on strength, it’s a leverage tool.

    Kathy- You’re right. Used improperly a pinch or a choke chain can create the wrong association. Used properly, though, I’ve used the pinch collar to fix hundreds of leash aggressive dogs.

    I still respectfully disagree, though. I believe that in most cases the halti is a band aid. I don’t agree with the analogy for anti-depressants, either, seems like apples to oranges to me.

    Javeen- If you don’t have the money to invest in a training course then a halti could be a good short term tool until you can get into training.

    Sean- You’re right. It is a utopian ideal to hope that all people will train their dogs. It’ll never happen but I’ll keep trying 🙂

    Pawsitive Vibe- Used properly a pinch collar is not about pain at all any more than a halti would be. You’re right, though, in saying that someone using one could make aggression worse if they use it wrong.

    As far as the disagreement on the halti worsening aggression I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve seen it happen on several occasions.

    Darryl- No anthropomorphizing at all. It’s the simple way that dogs create associations. Dogs create associations based on what they are looking at and what they are experiencing in the moment. I am not even sure where your argument for anthropomorphism comes in based on what I wrote. I didn’t invent the idea nor is it a ‘human based’ way of learning when a dog creates an association based on what he is viewing right now.

    As far as my testimonials, you are right. There are several that I can’t use. Many of them were garnered while I was the training manager for an international dog training company. Those belong to the company, not me so I can’t currently use them in my marketing and can only make reference to them. Since I’ve opened up my own business here in Utah I have had many clients from out of state but mostly here in state, hence the Utah based testimonials. Does it make me a better trainer because I’ve trained dogs for celebrities, been on the radio and television hundreds of times, traveled to several countries and states (it’s now up to 20 states in case you’re counting) to work with clients, written ebooks, hosted my own radio show, etc.? Nope. But it sure is cool and, like it or not, people enjoy listening to those stories and there are very few 12 year olds who can make the same claim (just needed to make sure that I was no longer being juxtaposed with your 12 year old neighbor).

    In my opinion credentials mean nothing. I’ve cleaned up the messes of a couple PHD animal behaviorists after their years of theoretical study did nothing for actual real world dog training application and I’ve known people like a construction worker and a drug dealer that could easily be some of the best trainers I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely not self-taught, I’ve apprenticed for some really great trainers and traveled to different places to learn from some of the best. But to me that means nothing. PhD or drug dealer, show me the results, that’s all I care about. If you’ve got a couple degrees or an amazing understanding of theories out of a text book that’s fine. If you’re a construction worker and like working with your dog, that’s fine. At the end of the day it’s all about what you can do.

  28. I was initially opposed to using a headcollar.

    My dog is a rescue, and a young, very strong, very highly strung Lab. He was a year old when I adopted him and he had never been walked on a lead and collar before. Suffice it to say that walks were a nightmare as he would constantly pull, jump and lunge.

    Determined to master loose-leash walking etc, I managed to find a great, very experienced trainer. She taught me how to walk my dog to heel – and to my delight, it worked!

    As a result, I began walking my Lab more frequently, for longer. We started encountering many ‘triggers’ – people and objects that caused him to react and to lunge violently. Still I persisted in using a ‘normal’ flat lead and collar. Dexter lunged terribly at numerous things – cats, certain people, motorbikes, certain sounds… It was all I could do to hang on to him but I persisted.

    Then one afternoon we were leaving the park, after a successful training session. As my dog and I walked away from the park gates, our trainer went in the opposite direction to her car. I heard her call out ‘How is Dexter around horses?’

    I didn’t even have a chance to respond – I glimpsed a horse just ahead of us and the next thing I knew, I was face down, on the ground, with blood pouring from my hands and knees. I couldn’t even get up, the pain was so bad, not to mention the dizziness.

    Somewhere to my right, I could hear Dexter barking and with horror realised that he was in the middle of the road, causing the horse distress and going beserk.

    Thankfully, our trainer saw what had happened and came dashing over; she managed to get hold of Dexter’s leash and then came over to help me. I could not walk, I was in so much pain, and she had to drive me home.

    I was incredibly lucky that I wasn’t more hurt – and that my dog was not hit by a car. Had the road been a bit more busy, both my dog and any nearby drivers could have been seriously hurt.

    That night I ordered a headcollar and I have not walked him without it since. Nor will I, until I can be sure that I can control his lunges, or until he becomes calmer and less ‘reactive’.

    So for those of you who are against headcollars, just bear in mind that for some of us, there is no option. My dog is now 19 months old, and 35kg of pure muscle. Without a headcollar, I would not be able to safely walk him and I just thank heavens that they exist.

    I would also argue that a correctly fitted headcollar is FAR kinder and more humane than a prong/pinch collar.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I definitely recommend them for certain dogs. Some dogs do better with prong collars and some do better with head halters. I’m glad you ended up OK and that you have found something that works for you and your dog.

    2. I totally agree, with any type of collar, a well rounded and informed way of using them properly of any kind of collar shoud be studied on before applying as with anything in life!

  29. Ty,
    Thank you for the valuable information. I hope this message will get to you, despite the passage of time, as it seems to have been a whole year since this post was commented on. I have just submitted an application to foster dogs for a rescue organization and I’m trying to learn all I can about dogs, their behaviour and how to be a humane and knowledgeable caretaker. Your information made me realize I don’t want to use a halti or a gentle leader; I will try to train the dogs with teaching commands and using rewards. If you have a better idea, please let me know. Currently, I am reading “The Other End of the Leash” by animal behaviourist Patricia McConnell and I like Cesar Millan’s theories about energy influencing dog behaviour and his approach. Although, I’m not sure about his holding dogs down- Patricia says that dogs will lie down voluntarily to show submissive behaviour and she doesn’t feel comfortable with forcing a dog to do this. I am uncomfortable with it, too, but Cesar is working with dogs that have problems (unfortunately, usually created or sustained by owners, although unwittingly), so I don’t know if that makes a difference. what do you think? Do you know of any humane dog training schools in Ontario, Canada? Or other books I can read?
    Also, I’m glad you responded to Darryl. His response to you didn’t make sense to me, either. Humans (with their complex emotions), or at least adults, would be able to reason that the two events were not connected, unlike a dog who would infer that two separate events had a connection. You weren’t anthropomorphizing at all.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling on. I look forward to seeing your reply if this site is still monitored. I would aslo like to thank you, Lindsay for your informative site and for providing a forum for debate. Thank you both for the help you’re giving to dog owners and lovers.

  30. Lindsay Stordahl

    It’s important to me, personally, to be open to different methods of training and to be open to different tools. I am glad you are doing a lot of research, and I am glad you are volunteering to foster dogs. You will likely find the Halti works well for some dogs and not so well for others.

    I think the main problem with “alpha rolls” as Cesar sometimes uses is that most of us do not have the same energy as Cesar. He does so calmly and uses his energy to get the dog to submit. He is not angry and does not use physical force, which is what most pissed-off dog owners do when they flip their dogs onto their backs for barking or for whatever it might be.

    Sometimes I gently but firmly push my dog onto his side because this puts him in a more relaxed position. He is naturally submissive and will sometimes do this on his own. More often, though, when I need him to calm down I just tell him to lie down and stay on his bed. Then he gets a reward for doing so.

    I know Ty has many videos on his web sites you can check out for more dog training info:

    If you are looking for specific info on a specific issues or topic, let me know and I might be able to direct you to a post on my site.

    I am a fan of Patricia McConnell as well and I suggest reading her blog:

  31. I am strongly considering a Halti for my 1Year and 4month old sheep dog. I have tried to train her since 6 months. she does everything perfect in our yard. she sits stays, walks next to me. even rolls and so on…. but as soon as she sees the road to walk she just pulls even if i stand still she will turn around to just start pulling again.. she also see every car and want to chase it… after a walking session my hands are so red and sore. When on the road treats does not even get her attention… I run every morning and my coal was to have her run with me… but this is so frustrating. She is getting more energetic because i cannot take long walks with her.Is there a better plan?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think you will like the Halti, actually. Ty will disagree with me. There are other options such as a prong collar or an EasyWalk harness. I would definitely try any of these options and see what you like.

  32. I have recently purchased a Halti collar for my 16 month old GSD, Jess. She has been trained to do quite a few things with the clicker method as a starting point, I have tried every technique going to get her to walk beside me and it was at a point where she would walk pretty much beside me, but there would always be enough tension in the lead to be noticeable and at times quite aggravating. If we’re walking and she’s pulling and we stop, she will move to heel position, then when we set off it’s the same degree of pulling.

    It’s nothing like she pulls me off my feet or anything, it’s just enough tension to be a pull that is pretty frustrating to deal with after putting in untold hours trying to stop it. It’s a relatively small force, but it’s almost enough to be spoiling a walk. I’m trying the Halti at this point to see if it helps the penny drop with her, I’ve tried stopping, treats when she’s walking correctly, constantly changing direction when she pulls, but to no avail.

    Alternatives to the Halti would be a help, although it’s early days yet, it seems to be doing the trick, but any advice would be appreciated.

  33. Lindsay Stordahl

    I walk a lot of dogs and use pretty much every tool imaginable. The Halti should do the trick for you.

    Have you tried just a typical slip/choke collar held high on her neck? That also seems to eliminate the pulling for a lot of dogs.

    I’m not a fan of anti-pull harnesses like the EasyWalk harness, but that’s another option. They do seem to eliminate pulling. I just don’t like walking a dog on a harness. And there is always the e-collar route. Just throwing out all options.

  34. Have been reading all these pros and cons for Halti head collars. I have been using the Halti on my Rhodesian Ridgeback for the past 6 years. She is not doggy friendly by any means. I however enjoy my walks with my dog and know I have some form of control on her and she and other dogs will be ok. She will walk on a loose leash around the park but I feel I have better control of her should there be an emergency, while she wears her Halti.She weighs around 37 kilos. In my opinion I will continue to go with what works for me and my dog.

  35. Lindsay Stordahl

    If it works well for you and your dog, great! That means more walks, and that’s what most dogs want. I also use the Gentle Leader quite often.

  36. I have mixed feelings on this. A collar can choke or crush a dogs throat if jerked on too hard. A halti is much more gentle, and we use them for our horses just fine. You don’t see people leading a horse by a collar around the neck. I use a prong collar and I also have a halti that I started using again recently. My dog had knee surgery and has to walk with a sling. He pulls with his collar and I cannot take a chance of him reinjuring himself so I have been walking him with the halti. I am not a big fan of tools to correct bad behavior. I think the ultimate goal should be to get the dog to walk without a leash. I guess I don’t understand why people say the collar is the only way to train? Is it because it has been around the longest and people don’t like change? Some trainers for both dogs and horses think that there way is the only way.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think that people mean well, but they always think that because one type of tool works for them and their dogs, then that’s what everyone should use. Every dog/owner/situation is different.

      I have a prong collar and a Gentle Leader and a regular collar and a choke collar. They all work well for my dog during certain situations, but that doesn’t mean they are right for ever dog.

  37. Gentle leaders are probably one of my favorite tools. And they are just that- a tool. Unlike a choke, or a prong collar, a gentle leader does not truly assist in the training aspect of loose leash walking, rather it helps manage a strong dog. It’s a management tool. This is where I disagree. It is actually easier to transition a dog from a gentle leader to a regular collar because the leader is not actually doing any assistance in the training, but rather giving the owner leverage with their strong dog. If this is the case, you use the gentle leader while teaching the dog to be loose on a leash through marking/rewarding their good behavior, and once the dog understands the concept, the gentle leader can be removed no problem. However, with chokes or prongs, they are used to aid in the training aspect, and when the dog doesn’t get corrected for it’s incorrect behavior, the dog learns it can go right back into it’s old routine. Many people don’t even use the collars correctly. I work at a pet store at the moment as well as own a behavior business on the side. While at the pet store, I see millions of people coming in behind their dragging dog, even though the dog has a prong/choke.

    I adopted an aggressive Newfoundland, 160 lbs. She came to me wanting to tear into other dogs, and she didn’t like kids. In fact, on a regular collar alone, she drug me down my drive way in pursuit of a dog and scrapped my legs up from my knees to my ankles. Thank goodness I was able to anchor myself to the ground and had a good hold on the leash. I could not use a prong/choke as this could exacerbate the issue. Even the regular collar exacerbated the issue as the pressure on her neck caused an opposition reflex. Once I used the gentle leader, I was able to have control of her. I could hold her in a sit position as other dogs walked right on by- this was amazing, as she was a big dog with a lot of persistence.

    Through training, rather than relying on a tool, I was able to take the gentle leader off her one day without a problem. As long as the owner is willing to do some training with their dog, the gentle leader is the best way to go. If fitted properly, it gives you the most leverage because of the placement on the dog, it doesn’t give any negative associations (as long as you help condition the dog to it like you would it’s first collar/harness), it gives you a calming effect where it lies on pressure points, and it also does not kick in an opposition reflex through pressure on the neck.

    Chokes/prongs may work on some dogs, but not all dogs. Whereas, about 90% of dogs can use gentle leaders. The only dogs I can think of that would not be able to use a GL would be the truly brachy dogs, such as my Shih Tzu, or dogs who have had traumatizing head/facial experiences. It can also be used on puppies!

    Chokes and prongs can work on dogs who have a great deal of tolerance, and social skills. However, dogs who are timid, have a low tolerance level, poor social skilles, etc. may have fall out issues from these training tools- meaning you may get your dog to walk on a loose leash, but you might have fear, anxiety, or aggression issues following, which to me is not worth it. I’d rather have a dog pull the heck out of my arm in pursuit of a friendly greeting, rather than one who wants to start a frenzy with the dog across the street. This is due to an association of two things happening at once. For example:

    Dog on choke/prong wants to happily greet oncoming dog, pulls, correction.
    Same thing happens again.
    And again.
    And again.
    Now oncoming dog predicts unpleasant correction.
    And you may end up with a problem.

    I’m sorry, but as a fellow dog trainer- I please urge you to keep an open mind and rethink this. To let you know- I used to use similar methods, but have come to learn through schooling and seminars that there are more effective ones.

    If you have any questions, you can e-mail me.
    Otherwise, I wish you much success in whatever you choose.

    P.S. I truly liked your article on pit bulls.

    1. I agree, Katie. I am also another trainer, and the Halti is one of my favorite tools (though I’m not a fan of the Gentle Leader, and Holt has also disappointed me recently). I use chokes, martingales, prongs, eCollars, Haltis, and flat collar/leash combinations. I have never had a problem training with any of these, nor do I rely on these by the time we are done training.

      What I call ‘leash training’ means just that – the dog can walk nicely on a loose leash on a flat collar and a leash combination. All the tools I listed above are aids in TRAINING, but shouldn’t be used longer than the time it takes to train them. I use them for usually a few weeks, and then transition out of them.

      Now, there are those situations that adrenalize the dog, which makes it more difficult to train. Cats, kids, food, etc. You want to slowly condition around these things, and then introduce EVENTUALLY to a bigger setting (a party or in a public park where there is a street fair or something). Don’t flood them unnecessarily – this is setting them up to fail, and you will go over their threshold quickly.

      You want to keep that calm state of mind while training, and whenever the leash comes out, the dog knows they are getting a walk, but in order to get what they want, they need to do something for me first. (Be calm). So, if they aren’t calm, we stop walking. If they get adrenalized, fun stops, and we turn around.

      You can do this with any training tool, but it’s most effective to teach when you can use tools to aid you. NOT RELY on them.

  38. Katie, I like your view point. I think you are right when you say it depends on the dog. I hear so many trainers for both horses and dogs that think their way is the only way and every way works for every animal. I disagree totally! I have tried to train both of my horses the same way (mother and daughter) and it does not work. I am all about positive reinforcement for both my dogs and my horses. Another example is the chain over the nose on horses. I absolutely hate that! I did use it when I first got my horse to teach her to walk beside me and no in front of me, but looking back, I would probably never use it again. So many people use that as a tool rather than training their horses to respect them on the ground in general.

    The choker chain on a dog seems to me like it would strangle a dog. I don’t really know. My Golden Retriever walks great with a plastic prong collar in certain situations, but when he knows he is headed to the dairy queen he pulls the whole time. I am not one of those people that lets my dog drag me around. I HATE THAT! That is a lack of the owner taking responsibility to train their animals. Both of my dogs will walk beside me or we will not walk. However, my Golden does at times have NO slack in his lead. With the Halti GL, he does not pull at all.

  39. Hmmm for some reason, part of my post didn’t make it. These are myths about the gentle leader:

    It includes myths such as dogs not liking the leader, and the leader causing injury. Great article to be read.

    1. great article. Why does it say at the end that the goal should be to transition away from it? Have you ever continued to use it? At times, I have to jerk by dogs lead, and I hate doing it with the collar around their neck.

    2. I use a Gentle leader on my Rottweiler as I have had two neck surgeries and with a collar she pulls, then I get severe headaches, sometimes bad enough to go to the E.R. at local hospital. She has learned to accept it and our walks are now enjoyable for me.

  40. Most people want to use collar/leash, so they want to get rid of the leader as soon as they can. If you want to use the leader on a continual basis, there is nothing wrong with that. However, that being said, there is never a time when a “jerk” on the leash is necessary, so if you are worried about that, try some other things.

    When training a loose leash:

    1. Move at the dog’s pace. Where the dog can be successful.
    2. Remain exciting. Talking to my dog, praising my dog, so that other environmental factors are boring in comparison.
    3. Mark/Reward good behavior.
    4. When the dog does pull I stand completely still and wait for the dog to realize he can’t go anywhere without me. When he comes back, I mark/reward. If things don’t move that fast- I’ll shape small behaviors accordingly.


    5. I start walking the opposite direction, getting further and further from what the dog finds rewarding.

    These steps are the only means necessary to get a dog to walk loose on a leash. Remember to that a loose leash should resemble a J. Meaning, the leash should be loose on your end too. Once the leash gets tight, that should be a cue for your dog to loosen up.

    If you do these things and they aren’t successful, you may be attempting to walk your dog in too much of a stimulating area and you’ll have to dial it down.

    I do not use Gentle Leaders to train dogs. They are not meant to train dogs. They are meant for control. They give you the leverage you need with strong dogs who have a strong will.

    As a professional dog trainer myself, I’m always glad to help.

  41. Just took a rescue dog in, a Fell terrier that is consistently pulling on leash. I’m trying a Halti at the moment and it seems to be working, but I don’t want to use it permently. Ant suggestions? I’m worried about his throat when he’s just on a leash.

  42. If you believe that wearing a head collar causes dogs to feel pain and aggression at the source of their frustration, you should believe the same for a pinch collar. You lost any ground you had against head collars being used as a band-aid when you a) advocated a different band-aid that is no better and often worse and b) used a point that is MUCH more of a problem with a pinch collar.

    If the head collar turns the dog’s head, you can easily turn them around and away from the source of their aggression. With a good handler and desensitization, the dog only registers that they head has been turned and the source of aggression and fear is gone.

  43. Also it’s super easy to transition away from using the head collar: you simply leave it on and clip the leash onto the flat collar instead. Because it is such a different feel from the flat collar, the dogs know when it’s on them and behave different, even if you don’t have the leash attached. And if you start to have issues while on a walk and are concerned for safety, you just switch back to the head collar and continue flat collar training in less arousing and stimulating situations. In this case, the head collar isn’t a band aid but rather a backup tool for dangerous or new training situations that require more control.

  44. I’m just wondering if anyone else using the halti (mine is padded) has resulted in a callus or lose of fur at the point where the halti touches the bridge of the nose?

  45. I have been using haltis for many years, they generally work, but not with a big powerful male, now I want to try a no pull harness.

  46. I agree that the dog won’t necessarily learn to walk properly without the halti but you are wrong on all of the other points you are trying to make.

    Obviously you’d have to pick the right collar. One that doesn’t chafe or irritate. And you have to take the time to fit it correctly. You have to have the patience and sense to help the dog associate the harness with good things like treats and belly rubs.

    Of course the dog won’t like it. Children don’t like to come in from playing to sit on the toilet, either! They don’t like to wash their hands before dinner. But we make them because we know what’s best.

    I’ve also never seen a walking harness that puts mesh all over a dog’s face or the injured a dog.

    You’d have been much better off sticking with the fact that the animal isn’t learning anything using the halter and more importantly with a big dog like mine, the fact that the human is not showing dominance by using a halter.

    Less than a month ago my health started unexpectedly deteriorating. My bones started sliding in and out of joint unexpectedly. It happens fast enough that I don’t fall or anything, but I certainly can’t have a big dog yanking me around now like I could have when I got her. I’d raised a rottie and knew exactly what I was getting into. There was no way I could have planned for this.

    The fact of the matter is, at six months old, my rott weighs half what I do. She’ll soon weigh what I do or close to it.

  47. I check the website listed, and sorry but I won’t take advice from a trainer that use shock collars.
    Studies done by veterinary behaviorists (note that trainer are almost never qualified behaviorists) shows that pain is not the way to teach dogs under any circumstances.
    Dog are smart creatures,and if someone doesn’t have the patience and/or the time to train a dog to walk properly on leash the head collar is an alternative to be pull on the ground. Like any tool when the dog has learned that the tool is uncomfortable it can be eased off it.
    There is no magic tool that will do any training for you,but as I said before dogs are clever creatures and they want to please,reward your dog,praise it and you will be amaze how easy is to have a good canine citizen.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I love the Halti, but for my particular dog, he pulls so hard on it that it causes discomfort that looks like pain. It leaves marks on his muzzle. For this reason, I rotate the collars I use with him because they are all uncomfortable for him to an extent. The no pull harnesses make him raw under the arms and chain collars make his neck red. To a dog, these tools can all be uncomfortable.

  48. I use the halti with my border collie, hell if its a bandaid i dont care. It keeps her safe, it keeps us safe, it keeps others safe.
    She is well behaved with it on with positive reinforcement and she loves what it means when we get it out- walkies!
    She does not pull my arm out of the socket when we walk and she listens and pays attention with it on, instead of going tunnel vision into stalker mode.
    I have done extensive training with halti’s in the past and they have been great, but i do think it really depends on who is the dog handler and what experience they already have.

  49. I read your article from 2008 about the Gentle Leader vs. Halti and that you like the Halti better. Praising the good points about both of them with the Halti coming out on top. You referenced this article in the 2008 on so then I read this one. So now in 2009 you don’t like the “head collars” at all? I’m confused. Are they good or not?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Mary Jo. This article (2009) was a guest article by a dog trainer who is a friend of mine, Ty Brown. He does not prefer to train with them. I personally love them for some dogs. It’s personal preference and depends on the dog. No right or wrong. They don’t work well for my current dog in 2020, a weimaraner. He pulls too hard on it, holds his breath and puts his head low and won’t pant. It worked beautifully for my Lab mix Ace however.

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