The Gentle Leader- a great method to stop your dog pulling on the lead

To all my regular readers – I am sorry it has taken me so long to write this post. This topic has been a work in progress and I wanted to get to the right stage in Coopers training before writing about it.

I have already posted about training your dog to walk on the lead – and in all honesty, we thought Cooper was pretty good at first. He “Sits” and “Stays” at every road with us, and then starts walking again when we say “OK”. His only problem is that he sometimes gets over excited and pulls on the lead to the point of making it sound like he is chocking himself. And we are worried this will become big problem for us when he is fully-grown and weighs 35kg.


We tried a few different tools – slow walking, walk to heal with a treat, turning around in circles when he pulls. But none of these seemed to work when we saw another dog or when we walked past a person. Cooper just got too excited and wanted to say high to everyone and would try dragging us with him.


I am sure a few of you are looking at these photos and thinking – “Why does he have a muzzle on?” – well, let me educate you. What Cooper is wearing is called the Gentle Leader.

The Gentle Leader is a head collar used to help your dog stop pulling on the lead. The Gentle Leader slides over the head and muzzle. When the dog pulls, pressure is applied from the back of the neck causing the dog to pull backward instead of pulling forward. It controls the dog’s head. Wherever the head goes, the body must follow. As a result it makes your dog want to walk flush by your side rather than pulling you. The part about the Gentle Leader that I like best – is that it is not harmful for your dog if fitted correctly (a DVD comes with the Gentle Leader on how to fit it correctly).
When first using the Gentle Leader, your dog may resist so you need to accustom them to it. With Cooper, the first few times he would stop and try to paw it off and I could seriously only get a few houses down the street before having to turn back– it was quite tough. Don’t try dragging your dog – this will not benefit you or your dog in any way. I followed the tips that came with the Gentle Leader DVD and only used positive reinforcement, lots of encouragement and lots of treats. I would put the Gentle Leader on at home before feeding him, before playing with him – all things that would help Cooper associate the Gentle Leader with a positive experience. Within about 4-5 days Cooper was walking so nicely on the Gentle Leader and we could get back to walking our usual distance.
When we see another person now, Cooper very happily walks straight past them. On the odd occasion – I may need to give a tiny tug and say ‘ah ah’. With other dogs, we are still not 100% there yet.  So we have started doing “Sit” and “Stay” when another dog goes past, this is my attempt to teach Cooper that another dog can go past without him getting overly excited and having to play with everyone of them.
Our friend in the park, Barney (1 year old golden retriever) – was just like Cooper as a pup with his pulling on the lead. His owners used the Gentle Leader for a good few months and they swear by it– Barney stopped pulling with it and now they don’t even need to use it because he has learnt not to pull anymore. Fingers crossed we get to this stage with Cooper!
To help reinforce the work Jase and I do with Cooper at home and on walks, we have decided to take him to Basic Obedience classes in the New Year and I am very excited about this! Cooper is so good with our one-on-one training but the second there are lots distractions he can play up. Through these classes, I look forward to learning lots more and being able to share it with all of you.
We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!



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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    The gentle leader is a lifesaver! And I really like the way you are teaching Cooper to walk so nicely. I wish all dog owners would do the same rather than allowing their dog to bounce all over the footpath and disturb your dog when you are trying to teach them to walk past a dog without getting excited and pulling. Keep up the good work Cooper!