Courtesy of:  Kaila

A question we hear quite often is: “Why is that dog wearing a muzzle?”  Sometimes when we show people the Gentle Leader their first response is: “My dog doesn’t need a muzzle he doesn’t bite.” There are some very common misconceptions about Gentle Leaders and their purpose.  My task today is to help educate you on the differences between a Gentle Leader and a muzzle and why a Gentle Leader might be one of the best investments you make for you and your dog!

Why is the Gentle Leader so great? It offers a painless and highly effective way to stop your dog from pulling, lunging and jumping. Walking your dog can finally be enjoyable! It is a very successful training aid as it is effective (controls pulling), humane (non-choking), easily fitted, and user friendly.

What makes Gentle Leaders different from muzzles? Gentle Leaders still allow dogs to open their mouths to eat, drink, pant, bark, fetch, breathe normally and even bite. Muzzles are most commonly used with dogs who are aggressive (towards people or other animals) to prevent them from biting. Some muzzles are designed so that your dog can still open his/her mouth, pant and breathe normally but if fitted properly will prevent a dog from biting and injuring someone or something.  These muzzles are still very different from Gentle Leaders.

How do Gentle Leaders work? A Gentle Leader puts light pressure on your dog’s muzzle and at the back of the neck so when your dog tries to pull you down the road after that squirrel it will instead turn his head – much like a halter on a horse. The Gentle Leader also works with the dog’s instincts. Dogs tend to pull against pressure. If your dog is wearing a regular collar or leash, or even a choke style-training collar (which we certainly do not recommend) he will pull forward as you pull back, leading him to gag and choke.

How will my dog react to the Gentle Leader? An obedient dog won’t mind the Gentle Leader and will continue to be obedient. A dog who is used to manipulating the owner and being in control will resist. The more the dog experiences this new type of control, the more he may resist. The best way to make any new training aid or tool a positive experience for your dog is using lots of rewards (food rewards if food motivated, praise, a game of fetch or tug).

Hopefully now you can see the difference between a Gentle Leader and a muzzle. If you have a dog that loves to pull please give us at Truro Vet a call (893-2341) and we can set up a FREE appointment to fit your dog with a new Gentle Leader.