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Halti vs. Gentle Leader

Head collars for dogs such as the Halti and the Gentle Leader are designed to fit around the dog’s muzzle and limit his pulling. This article compares the Halti vs. Gentle Leader to help you choose the best tool for your dog.

Both the Halti and the Gentle Leader make it easier for the handler to manage the dog on walks by controlling the dog’s head.

Simply, the dog is generally not able to pull as hard. These tools also prevent dogs from making choking and gagging sounds!

Haltis and Gentle Leaders are often referred to as “head collars.”

There are other brands of head collars available, but these seem to be the most popular in the United States.

Gentle Leader vs. Halti for dogs
Remy is wearing the Gentle Leader in this picture

I’ll go over the pros and cons of both.

Halti head collar

There are two things about the Halti head collar that make it slightly more effective than the Gentle Leader:

1. The Halti has an extra strap leading from the nose to the neck.

This keeps the other strap from pulling to the side or up into the dog’s eyes, which happened all the time with my Ace and his Gentle Leader.

2. The Halti also has another strap that clips onto the dog’s collar.

Newer Haltis feature the additional strap/loop that connects the Halti and the regular dog collar. This is a good safety for really strong dogs or dogs that manage to wiggle their nose out.

Dog wearing a Halti head collar
Chelsey modeling an older model of the Halti

With this strap, you don’t loose control of your dog if the Halti comes undone for whatever reason. Your leash will still be connected to the regular collar.

Pros & cons of the Halti head collar

Pros of the Halti

  • Thick neoprene padded noseband adds comfort
  • Safety loop for extra safe walks
  • Looser fit than the Gentle Leader
GSP Whiskey wearing a Halti head collar with a safety strap

Cons of the Halti

  • Harder to get dogs used to than the Gentle Leader
  • Pricing depends on sizing

The Halti is generally available in a vast variety of sizes ranging from size 0 to size 5, which makes it a great option for tiny dogs as well as giant ones.

However, the price of the Halti depends on the size, and ranges from $6 for the smallest one to $20 for the largest.

What is a Gentle Leader head collar?

Unlike certain newer models of the Halti, the Gentle Leader only attaches to the leash, but not to the leash AND the dog’s regular collar.

Ace never got his Gentle Leader off, but my dog Remy is able to paw it off. It would be nice to have that added attachment to the collar.

Pros & cons of the Gentle Leader

My dog wearing a Gentle Leader
Ace modeling the Gentle Leader

Pros of the Gentle Leader

  • Easier to put on than a Halti

Cons of the Gentle Leader

  • Either no or very thinly padded noseband that can cause chafing
  • Feels more flimsy because it’s less complex than the Halti
  • No safety strap

Gentle leaders are available in 5 different sizes, which make them great for tiny dogs under 5 lb all the way up to giant pups of 130+ lb.

Unlike with the Halti, the price is always the same around $16 and does not depend on the different sizes.

Halti vs. Gentle Leader – the main differences

Besides the slight differences I mentioned, the Gentle Leader and the Halti are basically the same. I refer to both as head collars, and they serve the same purpose.

They are tools to teach a dog not to pull, and they make it a lot easier to walk and control a dog if he does pull. They’re also a good fit for reactive dogs who lunge and they make it easy to walk several dogs together.

Head collars fit over a dog’s muzzle like a halter on a horse and snap behind the ears.

Most dog owners can benefit from using a head collar with their dogs. People find them more humane than choke or pinch collars because they don’t tighten around a dog’s neck. If you’re not sure, you may be interested in my post on reasons not to buy a Halti.

I use all types of collars with my dogs, but the head collars work well when I bike with my dog because he can’t pull me.

Even with a pinch collar, he can easily pull if he tries. I also have him on a head collar when I take him to certain places where I have a harder time controlling him such as stores that allow dogs or public dog events.

General downsides of head collars

The main problem with head collars is that untrained dogs will go right back to pulling when they’re on a normal collar. Of course, this is also true with other training collars such as choke collars.

Some dogs take longer to accept a head collar than others and will put up a real fight when you’re trying to put it on them.

That’s why patience is key when you’re getting them used to it. Use smelly, high-value treats when you first introduce the collar!

Remember that it’s a brand-new sensation for them because they typically don’t wear anything around their nose. Yummy treats will make them more willing to work with you.

And I mean YUMMY, not boring milk bone treats. Try something like cut up hot dog, cheese, anything fishy or with green tripe!

Head collars usually don’t fit well on dogs with shorter muzzles

Be aware of the fact that head collars are not a good fit for brachycephalic dogs. Those are dogs with shortened nasal passages i.e. muzzles like boxers, pugs, bulldogs, etc.

Many people have asked me if my dog can still open his mouth with a head collar on. Yes, he can. These are not muzzles, although many people mistake them for muzzles. He can bite, pant, drink, eat, drool, you name it.

If you don’t feel like repeatedly explaining what your dog is wearing around his head and that NO, it’s not a muzzle, a head collar may not be the right choice for you.

Other training collar options

Instead, you may be interested in using some of the following options when training your dog to stop pulling and/or lunging on the leash.

Tip: Make sure that you understand how to properly use each of these collars. You can ask a professional dog trainer, watch a good, instructional YouTube video, or ask me in the comment section below this article.

Martingale Collar aka Limited-Slip Collar

A martingale collar consists of two loops. The larger one goes over the dog’s neck, and the smaller one is what the leash gets attached to. They fit loosely around the dog’s neck and tighten slightly when the dog pulls.

They’re great for escape artists because dogs can’t get out of them. However, they’re only a good option for moderate pullers.

Martingale collar

Slip Collar aka Choke Collar

Slip collars slip over the dog’s head, just like the name suggests.

They’re also known as choke collars because you can use them to give a quick cue where the collar tightens and then releases on the dog’s neck.

They come in a variety of materials such as rope, nylon, metal, and leather.

Just like the martingale collars, they’re fairly escape proof.

Prong Collar aka Pinch Collar

The prong collar is designed similarly to the martingale collar as it consists of two loops. The main difference is that the prong collar’s loops are made of metal, and the large loop consists of flat, metal prongs.

Prong collar

The leash attaches to the smaller loop. When it’s pulled for correction purposes, the prongs tighten around the dog’s neck and then releases when there is no pressure.

Feist mix Wally wearing a properly fitted Prong collar

E-Collar aka Shock Collar

E-collars are wireless electric training collars with a wide range of training intensity. They consist of a collar with a wireless transmitter and a remote that controls the collar.

They’re used to pair a cue with the appropriate response. For example, you could teach your dog to come to you when he hears the tone or vibration on the collar.

Or, you can use a vibration to cue your dog into heel position, similar to how you would give a cue with a slip collar or martingale collar.

E-collars are mostly used to teach a dog to come back to the handler when off leash. They can also be used to correct unwanted behaviors such as barking or digging.

What do you think of the Halti vs Gentle Leader?

Let us know in the comments!

Barbara Rivers contributed to this article. She writes regularly for That Mutt and is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker. She maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

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