As a dog owner of many years, I’ve trained my own dogs to walk nicely at heel. I’ve escaped receiving that “are you walking that dog or is he walking you” look from passerbys. Enter Maroon, my housemate’s dog. He is 85 lbs of pure force pulling on the leash. On weekends, when I have the choice of whether or not to take him on an outing, I find myself declining to have him along because I just didn’t want to fight him the whole time. Out of desperation, I finally decided to try the Gentle Leader Headcollar. I’d seen them frequently on other dogs, but they looked so wimpy. I was wrong …this leash is unbelievable. It has changed our lives.
The headcollar uses a nose loop and a neck strap. The nose loop encircles the dog’s muzzle in the same way a “pack leader” gently but firmly grasps a subordinate’s muzzle in his mouth, giving the dog a clear signal that you are the leader. The neck strap puts pressure on the back of the neck, working with the dog’s “opposition reflex,” the natural instinct of dogs to push against pressure rather than move away. Thus the dog instinctively leans back against the pressure, putting an end to leash pulling. The literature that comes with the collar claims that most dogs respond with a dramatic change in behavior in less than 10 minutes. I can attest to this. Maroon gave a few good tugs, bucked a few times and then began walking calmly beside me, not once pulling.
I’ts been a couple of months since we started using the Gentle Leader. Maroon is pulling a bit more than he did at first, but I’m convinced that is due to inconsistent and sometimes incorrect handling techniques that arise when more than one person in the household share in dog walking duties. And even with a slight amount of pulling he is easily managed and controlled and no longer a source of unhappy person or dog. The main thing is I no longer dread the nightly walk, and Maroon is now welcome on special outings. The pet store owner who raved about it and sold it to me said, “A happy person makes a happy dog.”