Which collar is best to stop a dog’s extreme leash pulling?

And I mean extreme pulling! Most dogs will pull, but some take it to another level, if you know what I mean.

In my opinion, the best collars to stop a dog’s leash pulling are the Gentle Leader or the prong collar (pinch collar).

I’ve tried almost every collar possible, and those two collars work the best on the widest variety of dogs.

Of course, it also depends on the individual dog as well as the owner’s comfort level and openness to different tools.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Hunter the Lab wearing a Gentle Leader

More about the Gentle Leader and the prong collar

The Gentle Leader is considered a “head halter” and fits around the dog’s muzzle, as shown below on Hunter. If the dog pulls, he has to pull with his face vs. his neck or chest, which is obviously uncomfortable and less effective.

The prong collar fits around the dog’s neck and should be kept high, right under the dog’s chin and behind the dog’s ears. It should not cause the dog any pain. But, like the Gentle Leader, it makes pulling uncomfortable and ineffective for the dog.

You can read my post on the Gentle Leader vs. prong collar, but here’s what I like and don’t like about each tool:

Prong collar to stop a dog's pulling

What I like and don’t like about the prong collar

Pros of the prong collar

1. Almost always effective if used properly

2. Works well for dogs with shorter muzzles who can’t wear Gentle Leaders

3. Easier to transition to a regular collar

Cons of the prong collar

1. Needs to be fitted properly

2. Most dog owners don’t know how to use them correctly

3. You have to stop and adjust the collar often to keep it high on the neck 

What I like and don’t like about the Gentle Leader

Pros of the Gentle Leader

1. It works well for giving the dog owner more control

2. Almost all dogs are easier to handle on a Gentle Leader vs. a collar around the neck

3. It has a calming effect on a lot of dogs

Cons of the Gentle Leader

1. The thin piece of nylon can start to rub into the dog’s skin or eyes

2. Won’t fit dogs with short muzzles (pugs, English bulldogs)

3. Most dogs dislike having something over their muzzles

What about an anti-pull harness?

Some people love anti-pull harnesses, which typically clip to the dog’s chest instead of the dog’s back.

I find I don’t have as much control with any harness compared to a Gentle Leader or a prong collar, especially if the dog is reactive to other dogs or things like skateboarders. I need to be in control, and a Gentle Leader or prong collar is generally what helps me the most.

Coco modeling the no-pull harness

However, an anti-pull harness can work well for some dogs, particularly those with short muzzles and wide necks like English bulldogs or pugs. This is because their muzzles are too short for a Gentle Leader or their necks are just about as wide as their heads.

Also, if you don’t want your dog to look intimidating, a colorful harness tends to make a dog look friendlier than a metal prong collar or a Gentle Leader, which can be mistaken for a muzzle.

And here’s another issue I hear about all the time with Gentle Leaders:

My dog pulls so hard the Gentle Leader is rubbing his skin raw

The dog is pulling so hard that the Gentle Leader is actually rubbing off the dog’s fur or making the skin raw, even causing him to bleed.

A similar problem can occur with an anti-pull harness as well, except the rubbing occurs under the dog’s arms. And understandably, some owners are concerned with prong collars too, if the dog is still constantly trying to pull against the collar.

I have the same problems with some of the dogs I walk, and here’s my tip:

Rotate which collar you use from walk to walk

Yes, buy a prong collar and a Gentle Leader and rotate between the two.

This may sound odd, but if you have an extremely strong puller, you know what I’m talking about.

If the dog pulls so hard the Gentle Leader is pulling into the dog’s eyes or rubbing her skin raw, just switch to a prong collar every other day to give your dog’s face a break.

Or, perhaps you could try an anti-pull harness if you don’t like prong collars.

Just have two different options available that work so you can switch it up from time to time to give sensitive areas a break.

Heck, I’ve even switched collars halfway through walks with one of my foster dogs. I preferred the Gentle Leader with him, but he pulled so hard against it that I had to switch to the prong collar after a half-hour or so to give his eyes a break.

Just be careful if you’re going to be clipping and unclipping collars and leashes during a walk, obviously.

OK, now I want to hear from you.

Does your dog pull? What collar works the best for controlling your dog?

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Related blog posts:

How to teach my dog to heel

Heel vs. loose-leash walking

Gentle Leader vs. Halti

Is it time to stop using choke collars?