Hi everyone! I hope all of my local readers have been taking full advantage of the beautiful, warm, clear sky weather we've been having! It has been such a treat and Bailey and I are absolutely loving it!
Anyway, I figured some of you (and your dogs!) may be itching to get out for more walks in this nice weather, so I wanted to do a review post on one of my favorite collars, The Gentle Leader, which is great to use on dogs that pull during their walks.
Here's a picture of what comes with the Gentle Leader, including the head collar, a Training DVD, and the Training Guide which is also available here from the Petsafe website.
Before we dive in and talk about how great the Gentle Leader is, first let me say, when using a normal collar, Bailey is almost impossible to walk. He pulls like crazy and has to stop and sniff everything...and then pee on it. I was either dragging him around or he was pulling me. In short, our walks were pretty stressful and not enjoyable. In addition, not only was he hard to control, but he was a potentially dangerous threat to bicyclists (who he had to chase!) and himself if he got in the way of a bicyclist.
One day, he tried to chase a biker, and due to the quick jerk back from the end of the leash, he ended up badly hurting his neck. I felt terrible, he felt terrible, his neck was sort of stuck in a weird position, and he had trouble turning his head for over a week. I took him to the vet, explained what happened, and our vet recommended we try out the Gentle Leader. I was pretty hesitant at first. I said, "I don't want my dog walking around with a muzzle. People will think he's a really bad dog, and he'll hate me." But my vet kindly explained that it isn't a muzzle and Bailey will still be able to open his mouth freely while wearing it. He also explained that it will be healthier for Bailey and make my life a whole lot easier. So, I walked away from the vet's office with a new Gentle Leader, and I think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
So what is the Gentle Leader? It is a head collar that has an adjustable loop that goes around the dog's nose and another adjustable strap that buckles high and tight on the dog's head behind his ears, without applying any pressure on the dog's throat. There is also a metal ring that hangs below your dog's mouth where you attach the leash. Check out this illustration from the Gentle Leader website for a better idea of how this fits.
According to the Petsafe website, this head collar works because, "When your dog pulls, the Gentle Leader gently moves his head and body back towards you. This effectively refocuses his attention back to you and off the distraction." The only downside of the Gentle Leader is that it isn't compatible with the brachycephalic dog breeds that have very short muzzles. (Check back for a later post on my recommended walking gear for these cuties!)
I do have to say that it took Bailey some time to get used to wearing the Gentle Leader. I followed the instructions that came in the package and slowly eased him into wearing the head collar until he felt comfortable enough to go on walks. At first though, Bailey tried everything to get it off. He brushed his nose against walls, he pawed at it, he shook his head, and sometimes he just plain refused to move with it on. It also took some readjusting to make sure it fit him properly. But eventually, he got used to it and now the two of us are so much happier on our walks together. The Gentle Leader has actually made walking with Bailey fun again! Plus, I always think it's so cute that he excitedly puts his nose through the nose hole when it's time to go for a walk!
It's been over 3 years since Bailey's been using the Gentle Leader for walks, and I've gotten so used to him being such a great walker that I actually forgot it was all thanks to the Gentle Leader. However, last week, we were walking back from the vet and they hooked the leash back onto his standard collar without using the Gentle Leader. In our short walk home, he was pulling me all around. It was a great reminder of how much I love the Gentle Leader and also made me sad to realize that Bailey didn't just become a good walker all on his own as I had begun to think.
I'm absolutely sold on using the Gentle Leader for dogs that pull and have long enough noses to wear it. I know it may not be for everyone, but if you have a dog that pulls and is hard to manage during walks, I urge you to consider trying out the Gentle Leader. It has made a world of difference in my walks with Bailey and now both of us can enjoy our walks together!
If you want to pick one up, go out and support your local pet supply store or you can buy it from Amazon. It will be the best $15 you've ever spent!If you decide to try it out, or you've tried it before, or you currently use it, comment below. I'd love to hear what you think about the Gentle Leader! Have a Waggly Tail Day!