Introducing the Gentle Leader Collar to your Dog in a Positive Way


I started using a gentle leader collar with my first Husky Ice.

I started of by tying a white elastic "Ice is white" around her muzzle and around the back of her ears so that she could get used to the idea and not be frightened by the black halti. I gave her lots of treats so that she could also see that she is still able to move her mouth. This was a few years ago and it worked well but since then I have discovered clicker training and this is what I do now...

Many people think that owning a Husky means that you can never let your dog off lead and on lead they will constantly pull, no part of this statement is true you just need to know how.

Apart from shaping behaviour which I explain to my clients when we do one on one training sessions there is a tool that also works well. The reason why I explain walking on lead by means of a Halti instead of shaping behaviour without any means of using "gadgets" is because this is more often done wrong and can cause more damage.The only thing with a management tool is that the moment it is removed the wanted behaviour is likely not to continue.

a Gentle leader collar is a great way to teach a dog to walk with a loose lead without pulling if you introduce it right. I recently started training one of my Huskies to walk with a Halti to simply see the effect clicker training has on this method.

Now a Halti or a gentle leader collar gives the handler the freedom of directing the dogs head in a certain direction but the key is not to abuse that by escalating pressure that way the dog cannot get hurt.

I use a mutli purpose lead it has 2 snaps one on each end. The one snap attach to the halti under the dogs chin and the other snap attach to the harness. The dog will learn that different gear means different activities so once you remove the halti your sleddog will know it is time to mush!

I first would start off (like with a horse getting him used to his halter) just by targeting (touching) the halti and click and treat him several times for doing so repeatedly. Next just put the part that goes over the dogs muzzle loosely on the muzzle and click and treat the dog for accepting that and standing still without fussing and lastly progress to putting it on properly click and treat and then taking it off again and repeat several times.

As soon as the dog is accepting the Halti you want him not just to accept it but to be happy so start walking at a nice fast pace or at the pace your dog is happy with so if slower walk a little slower. Click and treat the dog every few steps to reinforce the behaviour of walking next to you. When you get to a new environment you might at first have to start from the beginning again just for a few times.

When passing dogs click and treat your dog for keeping his focus with you. After a while increase the time spend on walking forward and click and treat. Before you know it your sleddog can walk nicely next to you with no pulling by either you or the dog. No yanking on collars or reprimanding is needed at all you will only need to reinforce the good behaviour.

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Louise Basson on the Expresso Show talking about Huskies and Husky Rescue 2012.