A head collar is primarily seen as a training aid. When your dog pulls against their lead they feel the pressure on their nose and snout as opposed to on their chest or body. This can make them react to the pulling more, and also may mean that they shouldn’t just pull against the pressure.
There is often a way to fit them to a collar or harness for extra security, and there will be a size available for your dog breed and shape.
Figure 8 Collars
These come in a figure 8 shape as the name suggests, and the largest part goes around your dog’s neck, where you then raise the end loop and put this over their snout. The collar part and nose part are separated by a buckle which allows the headcollar to go looser or tighter with pressure.
Unlike a slip lead, which we have discussed below, the part around the neck will not place pressure on their throat. They also differ from a head collar because most attach to your lead from the back, so don’t pull on the side of their head.
A figure 8 headcollar is easier to put on than most dedicated head collars, so could be good if you need to slip it on and off during a walk or if your dog won’t sit still long enough for you to put something more complicated on and adjust it.
A slip lead is similar to an ordinary lead, except it has a loop on one end rather than a clip to go on a collar or harness. This means that the collar part can go tighter or looser depending on how much they pull.
They can be used as temporary connections from a dog to an owner, say after a walk until you have crossed a busy road, but should never be used on a pulling dog as it can cause too much pressure on their neck.
In the past, they have been used as headcollars by some dog owners. They would work in a similar way to a Figure 8 head collar by twisting around the snout, except there is often no limiter on how tight the lead can go. They also can restrict the dog’s throat due to the way they twist up to the snout.
For this reason, we would always recommend buying a dedicated headcollar which can be used in the proper way.
The majority of headcollars are made from nylon, which is soft around your dog’s nose and face. If your dog pulls along, you may wish to look for a headcollar which is padded or fleece to give even more protection.
There are some variations out there, such as leather headcollars.
Headcollars are not an immediate fix for your dogs pulling and bad walking. They help the dog to react and become more aware of their pulling, but when you remove the head collar, they can just as easily go back to pulling if they have not actually been trained alongside their use.
They can also still pull, but just not as strongly. We suggest still using methods such as clickers, treats and lead adjustment alongside the use of headcollars, and also recommend buying a no-pull harness and adjustable lead for full control.
Your dog may try to remove the head collar at first, but if you resist and reward them for wearing it, you will see results.