Lead the Way Dog Training – Creating happy ever afters one tail at a time

Making the Gentle Leader a Positive Experience for Your Dog & You!

The Gentle Leader is a fantastic tool for a dog that should be used with the Easy Walk Harness.

The Gentle Leader Head Halter is ideal for strong pullers or aggressive dogs. It’s also super helpful when you need to walk multiple dogs and offers extra control for small or disabled dog handlers. 

The Gentle Leader allows your dog freedom to eat, drink and bark. The Gentle Leader is not a muzzle and won’t prevent biting or barking.

The quickest way to successful pleasant walks with your dog is to get him comfortable with his head harness through positive behavioral dog training methods (also known as positive reinforcement dog training or positive motivation dog training).

Your dog’s comfort level will determine where to start training to initiate positive association with the Gentle Leader.

For example, one of our students, a bull dog/cane corso mix named Lexa was already comfortable with wearing the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle. Getting her to wear the Gentle Leader was simple. We only had to work on her “leaving it” as she walked with it.

Lead the Way Intern and Dog Handler Kim Friedrichs took about 2 weeks at 5 minutes per day to get her pit bull named Kane walking easy with his Gentle Leader.

Kim said, “Every time I would walk Kane, he would pull me. It was every hard for me to make him walk nice on a leash. I have Kane in puppy classes, and Lead the Way’s lead trainer Amy McCaa told me to try a Gentle Leader, explained how it would help Kane and I, and showed me how to use it.”

“It was hard in the beginning,” Kim admits. “Kane didn’t know what it was. But after working with him he knows what it is and what it does. He is still learning to love it, but Gentle Leader works for us. Now when I take Kane for a walk now he doesn’t pull me!”

10 Steps to Pleasant Dog Walks

  1. Make sure you have some high value treats ready. Some good options are pieces of cheese or hot dog. Make the treat something your dog can’t resist!
  2. Have your clicker out and ready!
  3. Start indoors & take the Gentle Leader out and hold it near your dog. Any time he looks at it or sniffs it, click & treat.Do this for 5 minutes on day 1.
  4. On day 2, hold the Gentle Leader out and open and use treats to encourage your dog to put his muzzle inside. When he does, click & treat. Do this for 5 minutes.
  5. On day 3, close the back portion of the harness loosely on your dog’s neck like a high collar. Keep clicking & treating as he has it on.
  6. When your dog puts his muzzle in the  opening, click & treat – then as he is comfortable, close the head harness around the back of his neck. Use lots of clicks & treats as he has it on. Be sure the Gentle Leader remains loose.
  7. Repeat step 6 as many times as necessary until you have the Gentle Leader at full tightness.
  8. Depending on your dog you may need to repeat steps 1-7  outside or you may simply be able to walk your dog  outdoors with his normal leash/harness on while he is walking with the Gentle Leader(not connected to a leash).
  9. The Gentle Leader should not be attached to the leash. As you are walking and your dog pays no mind to the head harness, click & treat. If your dog paws at the Gentle Leader or rubs his face on the ground, tell him “leave it’ and when he does click, say “Take it” and offer a reward.
  10. As your dog is happily walking with the Gentle Leader outside move to attaching your leash to it!

Important Warning: There’s a possibility your dog’s head could slip out of the Gentle Leader so always have a back up. For example, have the leash attached to a harness or collar and use a coupler and carabiner to attach to the Gentle Leader. 

When walking, a slight pull on the leash connected to the Gentle Leader will have a strong impact as it pulls your dog’s head away. Always use commands first and give your dog the choice to listen. Do not tug hard or be over reactive on walks. When walking straight, use a 

Watch this video that starts training with positive association of the Gentle Leader prior to step 1 if your dog is very uncomfortable with the Gentle Leader.

All in all the Gentle Leader will make your walks very fun, just be patient while your dog gets comfortable with it. 

Make it a fun game for both of you!

1 thought on “Making the Gentle Leader a Positive Experience for Your Dog & You!”

  1. Can you explain in further detail how to hook the gentle leader head collar to a backup collar or harness and still be effective? I worry that my big dog might still be able to slip out of the gentle leader head harness. Thank you!

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