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Love the Gentle Leader

Class will be more enjoyable if your dog wears a Gentle Leader because you won't struggle to hold on to them, but it takes time for them to get used to wearing something on their face.

How it's Done

Start at Level 1 and work through the steps.

Keep working through the steps until you meet the Success Criteria.

Then, go to the Next Level.

If your dog has trouble with a Level, go back one for a session.

The next session, start where you left off.

Get through as many levels as possible before class but don't worry if you don't finish them all this week.

Pro Tips

Do 2-3 short sessions in a day when you can
 

Show a POSITIVE ATTITUDE toward the Gentle Leader. Dogs pick up on our feelings and will not like it if they think you don't.
 

Keep treats small, no larger than a pea, so you can give a LOT of them without feeding your dog too many calories.

Have your dog move their face toward the Gentle Leader rather than moving the Gentle Leader toward their face.

Watch that you aren't putting tension on the Gentle Leader with the leash. You'll know if it's twisted sideways.

LEVEL 1

When the Gentle Leader appears, treats follow!

  1. Keep the treats hidden

  2. Show the Gentle Leader to your dog

  3. Give them 10 treats, one at a time (not all at once)

  4. Hide the Gentle Leader for 30-60 seconds, treats go away

  5. Repeat at least 3 times.

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog sees the Gentle Leader and begins looking for treats.

LEVEL 2

Learning to put their nose through the loop (dog moves toward GL, not GL toward dog)

  1. Hold the nose loop of the Gentle Leader open.

  2. Hold a treat at the opening so that your dog will stick their nose through the loop to eat the treat.

  3. If your dog goes around the loop instead of through, don't feed the treat. Hold it closer to the opening.

  4. Do this 3 times, then hide the Gentle Leader for 30-60 seconds.

  5. Repeat the steps at least 3 times.

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog puts their nose through the loop 3 times in a row without trying to go around it instead.

LEVEL 3

Getting used to the feel of something sitting on their muzzle

  1. Same as level 2 but this time, let the Gentle Leader sit on the dog's nose while you feed the treat

  2. Feed the treat high enough that they don't dip their head and drop the GL.

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog lets the GL sit on their nose without trying to shake it off.

LEVEL 4

Getting used to the feel of the full collar

  1. Repeat level 2 but this time, hold the collar piece around their neck (do not snap it closed) while you feed the treat

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog only cares about eating the treats and not about the GL.

LEVEL 5

Wearing the Gentle Leader while getting treats

  1. Repeat level 2 but this time, snap the collar piece closed while you feed the treat

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog only cares about eating the treats and not about the GL.

LEVEL 6A

Correctly fitted, getting used to wearing the Gentle Leader while good things happen

  1. Adjust the collar to fit correctly. The nose piece should come to the start of your dog's nose and not go further. The collar clips at the highest part of your dog's neck, and only 2 flat fingers will fit underneath. The leash ring is under your dog's chin.

  2. Start putting the collar on while your dog eats. Be sure to supervise so they don't chew the dangly part. It can help to clip that part to a regular collar with a carabiner while they eat. Take it off as soon as they are done eating.

  3. Attach a leash and play with your dog (Fetch, tug, etc) for a few minutes. Take it off when done.
     

Success Criteria

Your dog wears their Gentle Leader 5-10 minutes per day for a couple of weeks while doing sommething they enjoy (eating, playing, belly rubs, etc.)

LEVEL 6B

Attach the leash, get used to the feel of it

  1. Put the Gentle Leader on your dog (they move toward the GL, the GL doesn't move to them)

  2. Attach the leash

  3. Let them lead you on a walk around the house

  4. If that goes well, let them lead you on a walk around the yard

  5. If that goes well, lead them a little, then let them lead again

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog only cares about walking and sniffing and doesn't try to rub off the Gentle Leader.

LEVEL 7

The Gentle Leader is becoming part of their daily routine

  1. Put the Gentle Leader on your dog when practicing skills

  2. Put the Gentle Leader on your dog every time you take them for a walk. 

Success Criteria

Your dog gets excited when they see the Gentle Leader because it means walks or fun training. 

Step-By-Step

TROUBLESHOOTING

HELP! My dog hates the Gentle Leader!

  • When you show them the Gentle Leader, do they look for a treat? If not, go back to Level 1 until they do.
     

  • Do they move their face to the Gentle Leader to put their nose through, or do you move the Gentle Leader toward them to put it on? Let them come toward it instead of it coming at them.
     

  • Is it on correctly? The nose loop snap goes under their chin. If it's on top of their muzzle, it's not on the right way. Before you put it on, pull the nose loop up through the neck strap.
     

  • Is it fitted properly? If you can put the nose loop on after the neck strap, it isn't the right fit. If it slides around or moves up into their eyes, it isn't the right fit. The collar from the side should look like a V for Victory. The neck strap is high on the neck, right behind the ears, and snug enough that only two fingers will fit under it. The nose loop will slide to the start of their nose but no further. 
     

  • Do you use the leash to pull your dog around when you want them to move? The point of the Gentle Leader is to stop pulling because it's uncomfortable to the dog when they pull on it. If YOU pull on it, you make it uncomfortable for your dog with no way for them to turn off the pressure. Use your body movement to get your dog to move or a treat to lure them into position instead.