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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Halti Dog Harness: Pros and Cons

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

T he Halti dog harness was created to address one of the biggest issues for most dog owners, pulling on the leash. Dogs who get overly excited or aggressive when on-leash can present a real problem for owners, who can be easily overwhelmed when the pulling begins. In cases like these there can be a high risk of injury to either dog or owner or both.

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Walking on a leash can be a particular challenge for high energy breeds like the Australian Shepherd, who love to run at full speed. Trying to rein in that excess energy can be an ongoing struggle and traditional options like a choke collar, prong collar or electric collar are considered a little too harsh by many trainers and owners.

That's where the Halti dog harness comes in. This harness style, designed by Dr. Roger Mugford, a U.K. based animal psychologist, works on a very simple principle. It is a head collar that is very similar to the kind of harness used for horses. Because they are large and quite powerful, horses require a more reliable way for the rider to maintain control. A harness that fits over their head provides this extra measure without applying undo pressure.

The Halti Dog Harness: Pros and Cons - Photo: Black dog on pink Halti leash sitting by the sea.

Gajus / stock.adobe.com

How the Halti Dog Harness Works

The Halti style harness has the same basic result for dogs. It goes over the dog's head, with a large loop that fits around the neck and a smaller loop that fits over the dog's muzzle. Unlike traditional muzzles, which are meant to discourage biting, the Halti harness does not force the dog's mouth shut; it is simply used to provide an extra level of control. If fit properly, the muzzle loop should allow the dog to eat, drink and pant freely.

A safety loop attaches to the D-ring on the collar to provide extra security should the nose loop come off. The leash attaches to the collar and allows the owner to gently steer the dog's head in the direction he or she wants to go. That way you can control even the most excitable dog and help to prevent potentially harmful or dangerous behavior.

Sounds like an ideal solution, right? It's true that the Halti dog harness has many positives, but it is not without its drawback as well. Following are some of the pros and cons of Halti style harnesses that you should consider before choosing this kind of harness for your dog.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Pros of the Halti Harness:

  • Great way to reduce pulling by providing the owner with extra control by focusing control on the head. Like a horse in a harness, this allows you to basically "steer" your dog in the direction you want to go without excess stress on you or him.
  • Provides a much more humane alternative to choke collars, prong collars or electric collars that give a small, localized shock. The discomfort caused by these collars can lead to emotional and even physical problems in dogs and they are recommended only for the most severe behavioral issues.
  • The Halti dog harness is designed with a soft, padded loop to fit over the nose, which is more comfortable for your dog.
  • The Halti design allows for eating, drinking and panting so that dogs don't become overstressed or anxious.
  • Some Haltis offer the option of closing the muzzle to help control bite aggression issues.

Cons of the Halti Harness:

  • Since the Halti dog harness fits over the head and across the nose, it can be intimidating to some dogs and it may take quite some time for the dog to become used to it. Dogs may paw at the nose strap or rub their head against the floor to try and remove it. To make it easier on your dog, you should introduce the harness gradually, allowing him time to smell it and get comfortable with the feel of it. You might want to start by giving him a treat through the harness before actually putting it on so that he forms a positive association with it.
  • Some dogs may seem overly subdued when wearing the harness, which may make training more difficult and could lead to emotional distress.
  • Because the Halti dog harness works by turning the dog's head to the side, there is the risk of neck and spine injury if the dog lunges too forcefully.
The Halti Dog Harness: Pros and Cons - Photo: Australian Shepherd walking down sidewalk pulling on leash.

DenisNata / stock.adobe.com

If your Aussie insists on pulling on the leash it may be time to try a Halti dog harness as a training tool.

Fitting a Halti Dog Harness

In order for the Halti dog harness to be effective, it must be fitted properly. It should not rub against the eye area but rather rest further down the snout near the nose. It should not be loose enough for the dog to paw it off and the neck collar should fit snugly around the base of the neck where the collar would sit, but not too tightly to prevent choking.

Halti Dog Harness Should Be a Temporary Measure

While the Halti can provide extra control and be an effective way of teaching proper on-leash behavior, it should only be used as a temporary, transitional tool and not a permanent solution. As with all training tools, it should also be used in conjunction with other training techniques. It is not a substitute for proper training. In order for your dog to truly learn the desired behavior, it's is necessary to use a range of techniques with positive reinforcement.

Fortunately, for intelligent breeds like the Australian Shepherd, you should find that the Halti dog harness is only needed for a short amount of time. Aussies are quick to learn and eager to please, so it won't take them long to pick up your direction and learn how to walk properly on a leash. For any breed, when used properly the Halti dog harness can be a safe, effective and humane solution that eliminates pulling and lets you and your best friend enjoy your walks together.

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The Halti dog harness was created to address one of the biggest issues for most dog owners, pulling on the leash. Dogs who get overly excited or aggressive on-leash present a real problem for owners. #australianshepherd #aussie #dogtraining #puppytraining #aussielovers

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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