Training Your Dog to Wear a Head Halter
By Jess Rollins
To begin, leave the nose loop of your head halter very loose for the first several days. Start by holding the nose loop in one hand and a treat in the other. The "game" is for the dog to reach through the nose loop to get the treat.
Once your dog is eagerly shoving her nose into the nose loop to get the scrumptious treat, simply let go of the nose loop and offer your dog a treat so that she tilts her head up. Have a handful of treats and keep treating. The object of this part of the game is to keep the nose loop on!
If your dog lowers her head and shakes the loop off, take a short training break while you ignore her. Then begin again. Your dog will very soon learn to shove her nose into the loop for the treat and keep her head tilted up so the nose loop doesn't fall off.
When you reach this stage and it could be in a few hours to a few days, you are almost home free! The next step is to fasten the loop strap and give your dog an extra large treat for allowing this. The nose loop should be adjusted some so that it is not falling off her nose or obscuring vision but not completely snug.
Practice having her wear the head collar for 2-3 minutes and feeding tiny treats and then taking it off and ignoring her for a few minutes. Do this several times per day. Practice putting the leash on while inside and leading her around while you feed her treats. For the first walk outside, put the head collar on, but continue using a regular neck collar or harness to attach the leash. On the next walk, attach the leash to the head collar for the last bit of the walk. Gradually extend the time you are attaching the leash to the head collar until you are able to use it for the whole walk.
If your dog tries to paw or scratch the nose loop you can redirect her attention and when she stops offer her a treat or if it isn't too bad, you can ignore it. Be sure to reward her when she stops pawing and is calm. Usually this goes best if the earlier process has been done slowly with lots of treats.
Check out this great video to see some of this process in action.
Other tips to help your dogs learn
that the head halter means "good things for dogs":
- Put the head collar on and feed your dog her dinner.
- Put the head collar on and take her for a walk! (even if you do not yet attach a leash to the head collar or take it off as soon as you are outside).
- Put the head collar on and play a favorite game.