Since 2003, I've been making natural raw food and treats for my pets, using only fresh raw meat and healthy locally-grown ingredients.
My goal is to help you keep your best friend healthy and happy too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to Fit a Gentle Leader

If you've walked your dog to the DogTown Lounge booth using a Gentle Leader, chances are you've seen me check quickly to ensure that it is fitted properly, and that your dog is comfortable. I may have spoken to you about the fit, or asked if I can adjust it for you. The Gentle Leader can help keep a dog from pulling, but if it's not adjusted just right, it can make your dog fight even harder, as he tries to get it off his face. 

Since there seems to be a lot of confusion over the included directions, and folks have told me that they were instructed incorrectly by pet supply store employees, I've put together a flyer with these simple instructions. Stop by the booth at the South of the James market and pick one up. 

The Neck Strap MUST be fitted properly first:
Position it as high on the neck as possible, directly behind the ears, touching the base of the skull in back, and above the Adam's apple in front. It should NOT be able to rotate around the neck when your dog pulls. Fit it very snugly at the top of the neck so that you can barely squeeze only one finger underneath. This fitting should be checked every time you use the Gentle Leader for your dog's safety and for it to be effective. 
This is the MOST important part! All of your control over your dog pulling or lunging is dependent upon this neck strap fitting tightly. If the neck strap is too loose, the Gentle Leader can slip sideways on your dog’s muzzle and interfere with his ability to open his mouth. Your dog will feel vulnerable and not be able to pant easily, and you won't see this because it will be on the opposite side from you. Your dog will struggle to get it off his face, become anxious, and possibly start to overheat. In Richmond's scorching summer months, this can put your dog in serious risk of heat stroke!



Adjust the Nose Loop second - it should: 
Go over the nose flat, and down through the slider attached to the neck strap. It should be loose and comfortable so that your dog can freely open his mouth. Let it move freely from just in front of the eyes to the beginning of the wet part of nose, and rest behind the corners of mouth. Not so loose that it can be pulled off over the nose, but not too tight for him to hold a ball in his mouth.  If your dog has a very short nose, like a Boxer, Boston Terrier or Pug, you should use a harness instead. 
Taking the time to fit the Gentle Leader carefully before you go out will make the walking experience much more pleasant for you and your dog. If the neck strap is secure and tight, you may be able to leave the nose loop off in hot weather, for safety's sake.

Once the neck strap is fitting good and snug, here are the steps for putting it on your dog each time:

1. Fit the neck strap high on the neck, nice and snug.

2. Take it back off and slip the nose loop on, making sure it's coming straight up through the slider, and fasten the neck strap.

3. Check that the nose loop can't slip off the end of the nose, but is loose enough to fit behind the corners of your dog's mouth.

4. Attach a leash and enjoy your walk!

If you'd like some assistance in making sure your dog's Gentle Leader is on properly, please don't hesitate to stop by the DogTown Lounge booth and I'd be happy to help you!

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