The head collar has become an increasingly popular dog training tool in the past couple of years. Two of the most well known brands of head collar on the market are the Gentle Leader and the Halti, but there are many other brands that incorporate the basic head collar concept.
Many people find the Gentle Leader easier to fit than the Halti, and in addition the Gentle Leader is designed to fasten around the Shih Tzu's neck. The advantage of this design is that even if the Shih Tzu is somehow able to wriggle out of the muzzle, it is still wearing a collar. This safety feature is very important, especially during training outside or in novel situations. On the other hand, the Halti offers better control of the Shih Tzu.
Training a Shih Tzu with a head collar has a number of advantages over training with a traditional or training collar. For one thing, head collars are often easier to use for beginning dog trainers than are training collars. Head collars are also quite effective at preventing Shih Tzus from pulling, or controlling and retraining dogs that tend to pull.
Head collars can also be quite effective at controlling Shih Tzus in difficult situations, such as controlling a Shih Tzu that wants to be with other dogs. Most owners know of some situations in which their Shih Tzus are difficult to control, and head collars can be quite effective at controlling these volatile situations.
Head collars can be excellent for controlling dogs that are very strong, or for working with a Shih Tzu in an area that contains a great many distractions. For instance, head collars are great for when your Shih Tzu is on an outing, or in an area where there will be other dogs and other distractions.
Even though a head collar can be a great tool, it should not be used as a replacement for effective Shih Tzu training. A head collar is most effective when it is used in combination with strong and sensible Shih Tzu training methods, such as reward training and other forms of positive reinforcement.
Disadvantages of head collars Even though head collars have many advantages, they have some distinct disadvantages as well. For one thing, head collars tend to make many Shih Tzu dependent on the equipment, and they quickly learn the difference between their regular collar and the head collar, and adjust their behavior accordingly.
In addition, some Shih Tzus, particularly those not accustomed to wearing a head collar, dislike wearing it and paw at it, try to rub it off or pull excessively. If your Shih Tzu exhibits this behavior, the best strategy is to keep it moving until it learns to accept the collar. A good alternative is to have the Shih Tzu sit by pulling up on the Shih Tzu's head.
Another disadvantage of the head collar is the reaction that many people have to it. Many people think that a head collar is a muzzle, and react to the dog as if it may bite. While this is not necessarily a defect of the head collar, many people do find it troublesome.
In conclusion, training with a head collar is much like training with a training collar or any other equipment. While the head collar can be an important and useful tool, it is important to use it appropriately, follow all package instructions, and to combine its use with solid training methods. The eventual goal of Shih Tzu training with a head collar should be to have the Shih Tzu behave as well with a regular collar as it does with the specialized head collar.
Training Your Shih Tzu with a Head Collar
by Connie Limon
Connie Limon, breeder of the Shih Tzu Austin, Indiana Stain Glass Shih Tzus www.stainglassshihtzus.com.