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Mar
21

Gentle Leaders and Training

What is a gentle leader?

A gentle leader is a type of head collar commonly used in dog training.  Gentle leaders are usually made from lightweight, nylon material which is soft, yet sturdy enough to remain intact after long periods of use.

Placing a Gentle Leader on Your Dog

One concern that most people have with collars in general, is selecting the appropriate size.  Before buying a gentle leader, it is recommended that it is fitted on your dog first.  As a rule of thumb, one finger should fit in between the strap behind your dog’s ears, and the same goes for the clip that is located under the chin.  While it is being fitted at the store or veterinary clinic, you can also take advantage of this time to ask a professional how the collar should be properly placed.  .

How is a gentle leader used in training?

The first thing that you need to do before starting training with a gentle leader, is allow your dog to become accustomed to wearing it.  The majority of dogs are very resistant to the collar in the beginning, but overcome the issue after a week or so of usage.  Once your dog is comfortable wearing the collar, you can begin training.

A gentle leader falls under the restriction category of conditioning.  Why?  With a gentle leader, you are able to restrict your dog from exhibiting inappropriate behavior such as; pulling, jumping, and lunging.  How is this possible?  When your dog pulls for example, you are to gently tug the leash, which will pull your dog’s head back slightly.  Head restriction is something most dogs find really unpleasant, and as a consequence will do anything to avoid it.  With time, and some positive reinforcement, your dog will learn that certain behavior is not appropriate.

Most people use gentle leaders to help with walking manners, but it’s not the only thing the collar is useful for.  There are plenty other commands and manners that can be taught using a gentle leader.  Some of the most popular commands taught with a gentle leader include;

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Heel
  • Down
  • Off

Using a Gentle Leader as an Alternative Training Device

Gentle leaders are preferred over other training collars (choke chains, pinch collars, electric collars, etc.) because they are a safer and kinder alternative.  This type of head halter is soft, comfortable, and does not cause pain.  It simply allows you to have control over your dog’s head, which ultimately gives you control over the entire body.

Although gentle leaders are often used as regular collars, that is not their purpose.  Like all training devices, gentle leaders should only be used to assist in training.  As long as you remain persistent and use positive reinforcement throughout the training, your dog will transition into a regular collar with no issues.

A gentle leader is a powerful device that can make training easier and more enjoyable for both the owner and the dog.  Despite being a “gentle” device, as its name hints, it is capable of doing wonders when it comes to training your dog.


Concepcion Monico Garcia (aka Connie M.) is a licensed Veterinary Technician with over 6 years of experience working in the veterinary field. Writing is one of her passions, especially if it relates to her profession. She believes that writing is an excellent way of communicating with people everywhere and teaching them about the proper way to care for their pets. Connie M. blogs at
The K9 Shower. She enjoys blogging as a means of sharing her personal experiences as well as providing helpful information.

1 comment

  1. Anna Owens says:

    Hi, nice article. I really like it!

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