The Gentle Leader Leash A Dog Training Alternative

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

The Gentle Leader Leash A Dog Training Alternative

by Martin Olliver

When I started training dogs, head or "harness" collars for dogs were new on the market and all the rage. The Gentle Leader and the Halti are the two best known types of dog head collars, and are often discussed interchangeably even though there are slight differences in the design and they are made by different companies. Because I have used the Gentle Leader extensively, though not exclusively, in my own experience, I will focus on it.

What is it?

As opposed to traditional dog collars that go around the neck, the Gentle Leader is a head harness that consists of a nylon nose strap and neck strap. The lead is attached to a ring at the end of a short strap that extends under the chin.

How does it work?

Both straps are designed to have a specific function. The nose loop is intended to mimic the practice of demonstrating pack dominance between two animals by firmly taking a dog's muzzle in their own. The neck strap is intended to relax and calm the dog by mimicking the practice of a mother grasping her pups by the back of the neck. In addition, the strap applies pressure to the back of the neck instead of the front of the throat.

Dogs tend to respond to an applied force by exerting an opposing force, which is why they often respond to a backwards pull of lead with more pulling! The Gentle Leader is designed to reverse this behavior, and arrest forward movement when force is exerted on the neck.

Most importantly, the lead allows the owner to control the head of the dog, and ?not unlike a horse's bridle ? if you control the head you control the beast.

How effective is it?

In my experience the Gentle Leader is extremely effective in correcting pulling, lunging, and jumping. I found it particularly effective with owners who like to run with their dogs, but need to keep them in line on populated paths and trails. It can be used to facilitate the basic obedience commands such as "sit" and "down."

Although the product information notes that the collar will stop unwanted barking (through a quick tug of the lead that closes the dog's mouth), I found the lead less effective in this regard.

No Cure-All

As with any collar, you need to monitor your dog's reaction. No one device will work for all. But before you pick up a choke chain or a prong collar, a Gentle Leader is worth some serious consideration.

Martin Olliver has over 12 years experience in dog training and is a proud member of the Kingdom of Pets team ( For more great articles on dog leashes and equipment, including "Dog Training with the Gentle Leader: some common misconceptions," visit

Return to Index


Cannot find it here? Search the internet with the power of Google: