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The Truth About Gentle Leaders

Author: Lindsay Rapp | Date: December 26, 2011

Gentle leaders are one of my favorite training tools. If you have ever taken one of my classes, you have probably heard me say, “I put a gentle leader on every dog that walks into my house.”

Why do I love them so much?

First, it takes the pressure off of the dog’s neck. There are a lot of vital things in your dog’s neck like her spine and trachea, etc. Most dogs pull on leash as it is an abnormal behavior for them… walking on leash is not a behavior they are born with. So if your dog is pulling on their leash, they can hurt themselves. Something called collapsing trachea could happen over time.

You also have the most control over your dog. The Gentle Leader was designed based on a horse harness. You can control any animal’s body via their head. It also hits four pressure points on your dog to calm them down, two behind their ears and two on top of their nose.

I do understand some owners don’t like them because many dogs need an adjustment period: they will fuss and paw at it until they get used to it. But remember, the Gentle Leader does not hurt or harm them. I like to compare them to glasses. You always know they are there and you often fuss with them, but you learn to deal with them over time. The one thing that can help with this is introducing your dog to the Gentle Leader slowly. For the first two weeks, you should only put it on your dog while they eat. Put it on, feed them, and then take it off. Do this at each meal. After a while, your dog will have paired something good with it and will be less distracted by it.

Common Gentle Leader Myths

Some people think they are muzzles, which restrict a dog’s ability to eat, drink water or even play ball. All of these are false. The Gentle Leader does not muzzle a dog.  The dog still has full use of his mouth. If your dog is having trouble with any of these behaviors, the Gentle Leader is not fit correctly.

Another myth is that the Gentle Leader can cause injury to the dog’s neck. Here’s the truth: the Premier company and the co-inventor of the Gentle Leader, Dr. R.K. Anderson, have investigated numerous claims of neck/whiplash injury caused by the Gentle Leader since it was first put on the market, and have never been able to confirm a single case. If the Gentle Leader were hurting dogs, we would know by now. It’s just not happening.

If you have questions about the Gentle Leader, please post them here or feel to call AnimalSense at 312.564.4570.


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