Your dog most likely hates the Gentle Leader because they are not used to it or because it doesn’t fit properly. The best way to get your dog to like the Gentle Leader is to get them to associate it with positive things, such as treats or affection.
It can be tough to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash. Luckily, there are training tools, such as the Gentle Leader, that will reduce the number of times your dog tries pulling.
But what should you do if your dog hates the gentle leader?
For starters, make sure it fits properly. The back of the neck strap should be directly behind the dog’s ears. The front should be right above the Adam’s apple. The nose strap must be loose enough for your dog to open its mouth all the way. You DO NOT want to use the nose strap as a way to keep their mouth from opening. As long as it won’t slip off the snout, you’re fine.
Once you get the proper fit, you need to get your dog to associate the Gentle Leader with something positive. Every time you put it on, feed them treats and pet them. It will take some practice and patience, more so if your dog already thinks negatively of the Gentle Leader, but eventually, your dog will learn to be okay with it.
Near the end of this article, we will go into more detail on the steps mentioned above. But first, let’s go over the pros and cons of the Gentle Leader to see if it’s even worth the effort.
What Is A Gentle Leader
A Gentle Leader is a head-collar designed by a veterinarian that helps train your dog not to pull. If your dog pulls, the Gentle Leader’s design forces the dog to turn sideways instead of continuing forward. If your dog lunges or doesn’t stop pulling, they’ll find themselves turned towards you.
Millions of dog owners use it to help prevent their dog from pulling them around on their walks.
As great as a Gentle Leader sounds, there is some controversy around it.
Most will agree that a Gentle Leader is a fantastic tool that prevents dogs from pulling on walks. However, some people believe that using the Gentle Leader is animal abuse and unsafe for dogs to wear.
Here at Dogdorable, we are big fans of the Gentle Leader and DO NOT believe it’s a form of animal abuse. We have yet to see a single study showing them to be unsafe.
That’s not to say they’re the perfect training tool. Let’s look at the pros and cons of a Gentle Leader below.
Benefits of The Gentle Leader
There are many benefits to a Gentle Leader. Below we will list the four main ones.
1. Stops Dog From Pulling
The Gentle Leader keeps the dog from pulling, which means it does what it promises to do. Every time the dog pulls, the Gentle Leader directs their head towards you.
2. Doesn’t Restrict the Dog
Regular collars or leads can choke your dog when they pull on the leash. They put pressure on the front of your dog’s neck, causing your dog to stop pulling because it’ll choke them.
If your dog is wearing the Gentle Leader, it only puts light pressure on the back of the dog’s neck and guides your dog’s nose towards the handler if they pull.
3. Keeps the Dog Comfortable and Safe
This benefit may seem a little odd, but if you’ve ever been around a shy or nervous dog, this will make complete sense.
When dogs are shy or nervous, they don’t like to be touched, especially around their face and neck. When wearing a regular leash, the harsh jerk for them to stop can upset them.
While it may take some patience to put the Gentle Leader on, it’ll be better in the long run since they won’t have their head aggressively jerked back every time they pull.
Gentle Leaders are an excellent tool that will prevent your dog from pulling on the leash. As an added benefit, this tool won’t break the bank.
Most Gentle Leaders cost somewhere between 15 and 20 dollars. Not bad!
Cons Of A Gentle Leader
There are a lot more pros than cons when it comes to the Gentle Leader. Here are the two biggest cons.
1. Most Dogs Won’t Like it (At first)
Most people believe dogs don’t like the Gentle Leader because it restricts their mouth, but that’s typically not the case. Most dogs don’t like the Gentle Leader at first because they aren’t used to it.
When introducing the Gentle Leader to your dog for the first time, put it on during mealtime or while giving them a treat. Your dog will eventually associate the Gentle Leader with something positive rather than viewing it as something they don’t like or trust.
It’s worth mentioning that many dogs have an aversion to anything that goes around their neck. Wearing collars and walking on a leash aren’t behaviors dogs are born with. It’s a behavior that is (hopefully) taught by their owner.
2. It Takes Time to Train
Since associating the Gentle Leader with something positive takes more time than simply putting a collar on your dog, time and patience must be considered.
Why Does My Dog Hate The Gentle Leader?
Getting back to the main topic of this article, let’s go into more detail on why some dogs hate the Gentle Leader and what you can do about it.
As previously mentioned, dogs will find anything on their head or neck uncomfortable at first because they aren’t used to wearing it.
Many dogs scratch or paw at their Gentle Leader, and some might even refuse to wear it because they associate it with a loss of freedom on walks.
How Do I Get My Dog To Like The Gentle Leader?
It may take a little of effort to get your dog used to wearing the Gentle Leader. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get your dog to like the Gentle Leader.
1. Use Positive Reinforcement
Even if your dog is okay with you putting the Gentle Lead on them, after a while, they’ll realize they must walk beside you. Once your dog realizes they cannot pull you and run after things that appeal to them, they won’t enjoy wearing the Gentle Leader.
As a result, they may run away from you whenever you bring it out. In other words, your dog will think negatively of the Gentle Leader. To fix this, you need them to have a positive association with the Gentle Leader.
What’s the easiest way to create a positive association? Simple! Give them treats or affection every time they wear it.
Don’t put the leash on immediately. Start with just the head strap and give them a treat. Once they get the hang of it, slowly wean them off the treats and use more affection, such as petting or telling them they’re a good boy/girl.
Start taking them out for walks on the leash and bring treats with you. Eventually, they’ll start viewing the Gentle Leader as a positive thing.
2. Go For Short Walks
Most dogs like walks, so once your dog accepts the Gentle Lead, start going for short walks. Perhaps walks that are 10 to 15 minutes.
During this time, your dog should figure out how to walk so that the Gentle Leader won’t spin them around.
Once your dog is consistently walking by your side (and not pulling ahead), give them treats to affirm their behaviors. They’ll learn that walking by your side equals a reward. Once they make this connection, they’ll continue walking by your side without the Gentle Leader.
This is why we always say a Gentle Leader is a training tool and not a long-term fix. There’s nothing wrong with using the Gentle Leader long term, but your dog should also be trained to walk by your side without it.
3. Go for Longer Walks
Once your dog has mastered short walks, the next step is to take long walks. By now, your dog should walk beside you with the leash, making a “u” shape. In other words, there should be slack in the leash.
Additionally, you should consider teaching your dog to sit every time you stop. This will help prevent your dog from jumping on others and keep them from wandering around.
Don’t Give Up On The Gentle Leader
If you feel like your dog hates the gentle leader, don’t give up on it! They don’t hate it, they just aren’t used to it. Use treats and praise to create a positive association. Start with short walks. Once they’re able to handle short walks, begin taking them on long walks. It may take some time, but the Gentle Leader can be one of the best training tools for walking your dog.
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