At the time, one of our dogs was a fairly strong "tugger" on the leash, and the other was still a puppy, but he was starting to follow suit and lead more than follow on walks as well.
I’ll cut to the chase: The Gentle Leader head collar definitely transformed how both of our dogs walk on a leash with us. This was clear from the very first day we used it!
Here’s how it went for us…
Getting Your Dog Used To It
It was a relatively short "training period". Meaning, the minute we put these head collars on our dogs, the better the dogs followed our instructions and the easier they were to walk on a leash. No question.
I will say, however, that getting the Gentle Leader head collar on your dog the right way, and keeping him from squirming out of it before you get everything in place was quite a challenge. Not a difficult one, because we knew how it was supposed to go. Just a time-consuming one, because dogs aren’t too keen about having strange things placed upon their heads. It took a fair amount of patience. If we didn’t get the collar on just right the first time, then our dogs became quite bull-headed when trying to re-situate it and get things right, and they would frequently slip out of it in the process.
The faster you got it hooked up, the less the dog had time to squirm and try to get out of it. It was simply the fact that the head collar was slightly confining on their heads that freaked them out. It wasn’t tight, or painful or anything. Just different. It literally wraps over the dog’s nose and around the back of their neck in order to control body movement from the head. It resembles a muzzle, but your dog actually has complete freedom to open and close his mouth at will.
We learned that the quicker you got the dogs outside and just started walking with the head collar in place… the more they forgot about it and enjoyed their walk — by our side, rather than way out in front of us!
Here are some great tips for using a Gentle Leader for the first time.
The Gentle Leader As A Training Tool
From the get-go, we were pretty sure that we weren’t going to ALWAYS use the Gentle Leader head collar on every walk for the rest of their lives.
Instead, we were intending to use it as a training tool to shape and modify their current leash-walking behavior. The plan was to get them used to walking on a leash the way WE wanted them to walk on a leash, and with enough repetition, we hoped that they would eventually walk that way all the time — with or without the Gentle Leader head collar on.
Lucky for us, this was pretty much the case.
During the first week, we would used the head collar consistently on every walk we took that week. Then, during the 2nd week, we alternated days — one day, we used the head collar. The next day, we didn’t. The next day, we did. The next day, we didn’t. Eventually, we more or less weaned them off the head collar and had the dogs trained how to walk that way even without the head collar as a reminder.
The End Result
The Gentle Leader head collar makes walking your dog SO much more enjoyable. Trust me.
After each walk (especially in the beginning), Jim and I would look at each other and say how truly ENJOYABLE that walk was. Mostly because the dogs didn’t tug and pull on the leashes as we walked, and we could actually hold a conversation while the dogs trotted by our side. What a difference from before the days of using the head collar!
I’ve heard that the Gentle Leader head collar was designed to gently mimic the way that a pack leader asserts dominance over subordinate dogs. I can see that; it does seem to work in that way. It’s very effective, I’m telling you.
There are a few dogs in our neighborhood that ALWAYS wear the Gentle Leader head collar when they’re on their walks. I’m sure you would have an even more submissive and friendly and easy to walk dog, if you chose to do that too. We didn’t, but sometimes I wish we would have — simply for the consistency of it and the degree of discipline that it instills in your dog. "We do it this way EVERY time; no questions asked."
Here are more reviews from others who’ve tried the Gentle Leader head collar.