I’m not a huge fan of head halters overall but I wanted to see if the difference in tack would be a good signal to Kaylee that her new job (learning to be a service dog) is very different from her old one (standing very still and looking glamorous), since she was shown on a standard slip collar. It worked fairly well- she wasn’t bothered by the nose loop particularly, but it didn’t fit her very well- the lack of stop meant that if it was as loose as I wanted it, it tended to ride up and at one point she managed to nearly put the nose loop over her pointy little head. I may get some fleece to line it and put a keeper on it so that it fits a little better. I may also order a Canny Collar to try. It’s just another brand of head halter, but unlike most of the others, attaches to the leash at the back of the head. There’s another brand like this, the Black Dog Infin8 Halter, but I’ve not seen one in person. (This looks MUCH safer to me; one of my primary complaints about most of the head collars is that they are constantly pulling the dog’s head to one side or the other if the dog moves ahead of you. More about this in a second.)
I think overall the head halter worked well for Kaylee and I may pursue it further. I just need to find the right one, or modify one to fit the way I want it to. At this point, I’m thinking a noseband lined with fleece or moleskin (possibly neoprene?) might be a good idea. I’ve always disliked horse bridles and halters with unlined nosebands since I think they tend to rub more easily even with a properly-fitted one, and I don’t know why more of the dog ones aren’t lined, other than ease of fit. Making a neoprene or fleece sleeve for one shouldn’t be a big deal, though. I also want it to attach to the leash at the back of the neck, and be easy to adjust so that the dog is comfortable in it during long down stays.
My Complaints about Head Halters
Like I said above, I’m not a huge head halter fan. I think they’ve got their place- just like every other control device out there- and they work REALLY well for some dogs. But I think the torque they place on a dog’s neck is a horrible idea for long-backed dogs (like corgis), and I see a lot of users using them incorrectly- using them as a permanent management strategy rather than a tool to use while training better behavior- and I’m seeing an increasing number of people using them to deliver leash corrections, something I’m convinced is downright dangerous.
Some dogs find them REALLY aversive and are never able to stop fussing about them. Having something over their nose really seems to distress these dogs, and while they CAN be desensitized to it, why not just use something that is easier for the dog to tolerate while training? I’ve yet to meet a dog who has the same kind of issues with a prong collar.
Suzanne Clothier has an article on Flying Dog Press about the downsides of head halters, and I can’t say it any better than that!