The Best Dog Headcollar For Stopping Pulling On The Lead

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The Best Dog Headcollar or Harness For Stopping Dogs Pulling

What’s the best dog headcollar or harness for stopping dogs from pulling on the lead?

In this blog post, we’ll attempt to answer that question. There is a lot of lively debate about which works best – headcollars or harnesses. We’re going to look at some of the research and recommendations about both and show why we believe that the K9 Bridle is the best dog headcollar for stopping dogs pulling on the lead.

Headcollars

Headcollars stop dogs pulling by giving you more control over the dog’s head and taking away most of the dog’s strength when he pulls. As one dog trainer told us, “if you have control of the head, you have control of the dog”.

There are a number of brands of headcollar, and many dog owners that we spoke to were relieved and amazed by the instant effect of headcollars in stopping their labs pulling.

However, the problems with most of the headcollar options currently available are:

Best dog headcollar to stop pulling
  • They tend to pull into or near the dog’s eyes (as in the photo above).
  • They often cover part of the mouth, interfering with the dog’s breathing or annoying him when he’s playing with a toy.
  • The point of control is under the chin, meaning that when the dog pulls, its head is turned sideways. This can lead to neck and spinal injuries, particularly if the dog runs to the end of the lead repeatedly, and is yanked back.
  • They are not always easy to get a perfect fit so they rub the dog’s skin.
  • There is no way for the headcollar to loosen – it stays the same all the time whether the dog pulls or not. The dog is therefore not learning anything.
  • The dog can still pull – they just set their head and neck sideways and pull forwards.

The K9 Bridle - the best dog headcollar

Best dog headcollar

The k9 bridle was designed because we were frustrated by seeing dogs at shows with their headcollars pulling over their eyes and across their mouths. The dogs often looked miserable and depressed. Our aim was to find something different.

There are 5 good reasons why the k9 bridle is the best dog headcollar for helping owners to control their dogs:

  1. The point of control is at the back of the head. The dog’s neck is protected from injury and the spine is kept in line. There is no danger of the dog running to the end of the lead then having its neck whipped back causing serious injury, which can happen with other headcollars that attach under the neck or at the side of the head.
  2. The k9 bridle is not tight all the time. It releases as soon as the dog stops pulling, giving the dog signals it can understand. This makes it ideal for assisting owners to train their dogs.
  3. It is made from very soft, lightweight tubular material with no hard edges that may rub on the dog’s skin and cause sore places.
  4. It comes in 5 different sizes and each size is fully adjustable to help you get a perfect fit. This is important because with a good fit, the dog will find it more comfortable and it is much less likely to rub and cause sore places.
  5. The bridle can help to control aggression because the bridle dips the nose slightly when a command is given. This has the effect of breaking eye contact between two dogs that are eyeing each other prior to aggressive behaviour, giving the owner the chance to move the dog away easily and without incident..

Professional opinion about headcollars

Dog trainers are divided about the use of headcollars in dogs. Many dislike the fact that some dogs don’t like the sensation of having something over their nose and will fight to get the headcollar off. It must feel strange to the dog that is unfamiliar with anything going over his head, but most headcollars do not hurt. It is just an unfamiliar sensation. This can be avoided with gentle training where the dog is introduced to the headcollar gradually at the same time as playing with the owner, being rewarded with treats or praise or just having the headcollar on before being fed. In this way, the dog associates the headcollar with nice things, is not scared by it and is much less likely to show any other signs of irritation or distress.

As with all dog restraints, if headcollars are not fitted correctly, or if the dog is a very strong puller, occasionally the collars can rub on the dog’s face causing sore places if unmonitored. 

This very occasionally happens with the k9 bridle.  If it does, we will provide the dog with a bespoke bridle with a softer, wider noseband.

“I have had 4 labs all had puppy training and good on collar and leads until 6 months then they go through a teenage phase and pull despite treats and short lead so on to a headcollar until they settle down.”

Owner Tip

Harnesses

Best dog headcollar

As with headcollars, dog trainers’ and vets’ opinions also tend to be divided about harnesses.

There are three types of harness available:

Back-Fastening Harness

Don’t buy one of these unless you want your dog to pull like a steam train! As we have already described, the oppositional reflex means that as soon as your dog pulls on this harness and you, by holding the lead, pull back, he will just pull harder. His attention is directed away from you, facing forwards. This is why sled dog back-fastening harnesses are so effective.

Front-fastening Harness

Your lead attaches to the front of these harnesses, somewhere on the chest. These are somewhat successful in stopping dogs pulling. When the dog pulls against the harness, the force of his pulling against the force of you holding the lead, swing the dog’s body round to face you. His attention is then diverted from where he was pulling back to you and he cannot go forwards in the direction he wishes to.

As with all no-pull management or training devices, there can be issues with the front-attaching harness:

  • When the dog pulls, the harness twists to the side which must be annoying and uncomfortable for the dog
  • There have been some studies that shows that a dog’s gait or movement is affected by harnesses, particularly those with straps across the chest at the top of the dog’s legs. Studies have shown that the dog’s shoulder extension is restricted by 2-4% and that dogs bore less weight on their front legs than is normal. For this reason they are not recommended for canine athletes or working dogs. 

 

"No-pull harnesses are detrimental to a dog’s structure and gait – and are especially inappropriate for canine athletes. I do not believe that there is a harness on the market that is non-restrictive and that also helps the dog not to pull. There are some very nice, well-constructed, non-restrictive harnesses on the market. However, those should not be considered as a method to teach a dog not to pull. In my opinion the real way to get a dog to stop pulling is to train it.”

Dr Christine Zink, DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACVSMR
  • If the dog is reactive and has aggression issues, then a headcollar may also be required to properly get the dog under control and prevent aggression-related incidents.
  • If the lead is too slack, it can get tangled up in the dog’s legs unlike back-fitting harnesses.
    These harnesses are for dogs that are walking only, if you take your dog running, the back-attaching harnesses are much more suitable and will not swing the dog round mid-flight, risking injury.
  • A few lab owners have reported that their dogs can get out of their harness, whether front-fitting or not. It’s vital to get the harness fitted properly and ensure that the dog doesn’t get into the habit of trying to escape.
  • Some front-fitting harnesses claim to “lift” the dog, taking the power away from the shoulders and helping the handler to control the pulling. However, dogs frequently get in the habit of going up on their hind legs and lunging forwards when wearing this type of harness. Not ideal for the owner and not good for the dog!
  • They can cause sore places on the dog if not fitted correctly – it is essential to keep checking the dog to ensure that sore areas aren’t developing.

Front- And Back-Fitting Harnesses

 These are operated using a double ended lead and help to ensure that the harness doesn’t slip round the dog when it pulls forwards. They also give the handler more control over the dog’s body as well as his front. With these harnesses, the handler has the choice of controlling the dog’s front end and swinging him round to stop him pulling, or just pull gently on his back to give him a warning to slow down but allow him to keep going forwards.

Headcollars And Harnesses Used Together

Some respondents on our survey reported that when a harness doesn’t work they also use a headcollar, usually with a double-ended lead. This gives them choices about the type of control restraint they use on the dog and with particularly strong dogs, has been shown to be what they needed to ensure that they can continue to walk the dog.

As mentioned above, using both headcollar and harness can help control an aggressive dog.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has helped you to decide which is right for your dog, a headcollar or a harness. It should also have helped you to decide which headcollar or harness you will select.

If you have any further questions or would like to know any more, please get in touch on 01205 460090. We offer a money back guarantee, so if your dog is one of the 4% that doesn’t get on well with the bridle, we will give you a full refund!

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