What Are the Best Halters and Leashes for Walking Your Dog?

Learn whether you should use a halter and which leash is best for walking your dog.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #103

In last week’s article, I explained how to choose a collar or harness for training and walking your dog. This week, I’ll describe the pros and cons of a halter, or head collar. I’ll also help you decide what leash is best for you and your dog—the right one can make a big difference.

Should You Use a Halter to Walk Your Dog?

When halters first came on the market over 15 years ago, reward-based trainers were delighted, especially those who worked with reactive, aggressive, or just plain wild-and-crazy dogs. It was wonderful to have available a piece of equipment that gave guardians excellent physical control over their dogs without hurting or choking them.

Most Dogs Find Halters Unpleasant

But alas. It got obvious, pretty soon, that even though halters weren’t painful, a lot of dogs just hated wearing them. Dogs rolled on the ground and tried to rub them off, or they didn’t struggle but just plain looked unhappy and subdued. Some of us tried to tell ourselves the dogs only needed to learn the halter wouldn’t come off no matter how hard they tried, and then they’d, I don’t know, get over it. We also tried to tell ourselves those subdued dogs were actually just calm. There was a whole rap about how the halter’s action mimicked the control a mother dog exerts over a pup. Yeah, right.  It was disappointing to have to admit that the new miracle device wasn’t the peach pie and ice cream we’d hoped for.

When Is a Halter the Right Tool?

For some dogs, a halter is safest, but you should teach your dog that the halter is pleasant to wear.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).