Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
What Exactly Is a Dog Halti?
A dog halti is simply a head collar that somewhat resembles a halter worn by horses. Also known as a gentle leader, head halter, or head collar, a dog halti basically goes over the dog's head with the bigger loop going around the dog's neck and the smaller loop going over the dog's muzzle. A correctly worn halti should allow enough space to allow one finger to slide under the cheek strap.
At times, people confuse the halti with a dog muzzle; however, the two are very different and were built for different purposes. That said, it is important to recognize that some models of dog haltis were purposely crafted to allow the mouth to be closed; a feature which may turn handy when dealing with dogs prone to aggression.
The main purpose of a dog halti is to provide better control. Horses are large animals that can be easily controlled by a halter wrapped around their heads, therefore, the halti was crafted with the same idea in mind. Basically, the head collar works by controlling the dog's head, which makes it an ideal training tool for dog owners concerned about being dragged down the street.
The head halter was first crafted by Dr. Roger Mugford about 25 years ago. Dr. Mugford is a UK-based leading trainer and animal behaviorist. Owning large dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds and having back problems as well, Dr. Mugford understood the need for better control. Today, dog haltis can be found in any major pet store. Because head halters require some time to get accustomed to, it is best to consult with a reputable dog trainer for advice.
As with most training tools, there are pros and cons to keep in mind before investing in their use. As a dog owner, it is ultimately up to you to choose the most appropriate training tool for your dog. If you are uncertain, ask a dog trainer for advice.
Pros and Cons of Dog Haltis
There are good and bad things about the halti. As a trainer and behavior consultant, I tend to use a halti for particular cases where a certain level of control is needed. In the past, I have had success in using a halti in a case of re-directed aggression because of the great control of the head and muzzle. Yet, I tend to prefer a front-attachment harness for cases, where control of the head is not needed as much. The following are some pros and cons of dog haltis.
Pros of Head Halters in Dogs
- Works great to reduce pulling. With great control of the head, some dog owners claim it feels as if "power steering".
- A dog haltis offers a more humane alternative to aversion-based tools such as choke collars, prong collars and electronic collars which are known for causing emotional and physical issues.
- Compared to the gentle leader, some haltis offer a more comfortable fit, courtesy of padding over the nose area.
- Some haltis offer the option of closing the muzzle.
- The way the halti is designed, it allows dogs to pant as needed,
Cons of Haltis in Dogs
- The biggest disadvantage of the halti is the fact that it takes quite some time for the dog to get adjusted to it. Some dogs will panic, toss themselves on the floor, rub their heads on surfaces and paw at it.
- Some dogs appear to be excessively subdued when wearing it.
- As with other training tools, haltis have the potential for causing injury. In this case, the risk involves injury the dog's neck and spine when the dog lunges ahead and his head turns to the side.
- As with other training tools, a halti should be used in conjunction with training and not as a substitute for training. As with other training tools, they are transitional tools to be used temporary until better behaviors are taught.
- The halti must be fit correctly to ensure effectiveness. The halti should not rub against the eye area; rather, it should be resting near the nose, away from the eyes. The dog should not be able to paw it off. It should look like a "V" for victory and not an "L" for loser according to Terri Ryan.
- A halti may cause subdued behavior in some dogs, which is why I am not a big fan of it and prefer front-attachment harnesses.
As seen, as with other training tools, there are pros and cons to using a halti and as with any training tool there are risks of misuse. If you are considering one, keep in mind that it may require some desensitizing for your dog to get accustomed to it. Consult with s dog trainer when it comes to choosing the best training tool for your dog as this varies from one individual to another on a case by case basis.
How to Put a Halti on Your Dog
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 12, 2020:
Wrong size or it is fitted incorrectly. If you bought it from a pet store you can bring your dog along and they will fit it for you or exchange it for another size.
Helen on May 02, 2020:
My dog can pull the halti off quite easily so I think I may have the wrong size?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 05, 2013:
Thanks for stopping by. As with many tools, dogs need to be desensitized to it and this can be tedious. Back when I used them before front-attachment harnesses became popular, I had a half hour class just for demo purposes and proper fitting.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 05, 2013:
I think one issue that most trainers do not bring up is one you pointed out here--some dogs are excessively subdued. I do not use one for my dog but if I put anything on her muzzle she acts like she is being attacked by a neighbor´s Fila.
maryeason on January 31, 2013:
This has some very awesome information on using the Haltis for training. I had never even heard of them before.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 17, 2012:
Hello Desertarmor, thank you for stopping by. The difficult time transitioning to a normal collar I addressed it when I posted the following disadvantage " As with other training tools, a halti should be used in conjunction with training and not as a substitute for training." The main objective of any training tool is to use it temporarily and wean it off gradually. As a trainer, my main objective in classes is to make sure dogs in my classes are capable of walking on a normal buckle collar, without relying on any aids. If the dog owner finds he cannot walk the dog without depending on a tool; I know there is a problem...
Desertarmor from Arizona on July 17, 2012:
The only real down side to a halti is that once it is removed the dog has a difficult time transitioning to just a collar and the forging begins all over again. My advice it use the simple 180 turn a few times and the dog will stop forging. Great hub though!!
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 16, 2012:
I have to reread your hub. My dogs do get a bath outside on the porch. They are too heavy for me to lift in the tub. Especially Bella. She just freezes her body and won't budge. I will remember treats during the bath. She really is a good girl. I don't know her problem with water. I got her at the humane society. They knew she hates rain and baths. So we just don't know what happened that she is that way.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 16, 2012:
You are welcome! She may do better if you give the bath outdoors initially.Bath tubs can be scary for many different reasons. I published this hub a while back and thought it could be helpful: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-Bathe-a-Big-Dog...
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 16, 2012:
Thanks for the tip on when to give treats for a bath. Makes sense. I will remember that.
I could see my youngest dog acting like a wild horse. Anything that makes her feel trapped, she reacts. And yet, she is really sweet.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 15, 2012:
Treats should be mostly given during the bath. It is easy to forget that those wanted positive associations take place DURING the event and not prior nor after. Dogs live in the moment so if you give treats prior to the bath your dog will associate whatever is happening with treats, you want your dog to realize that the when bathed great things happen, when the bath is over all fun things end as well. Many dogs find the halti uncomfortable at first, but many settle after a bit. I have seen some dogs act like a wild horse when they wore it the first time, which is why it is not one of my favorite tools, but it has its own place for behavior modification for difficult cases. Thanks for stopping by!
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 15, 2012:
I didn't realize there was haltis for dogs. I think I'd be more uncomfortable about it than my dogs. I guess I'm used to how my dogs are and we just work around each other. I love the video, that dog was determined to get the treats. I need to give treats to my dogs, especially Bella, before a bath, not after, since while she is getting better, she hates the thought of having to get a bath. The halti might even work for her that way, but to me it looks uncomfortable. This is a good hub for those who would like the halti.