Introduction: DIY Dog Halter/ Head Collar
There is a new improved version to be foundhere
Head halters are an innovative way of having control over your dog. They prevent pulling by allowing you to control your dog's head in the same way you would control a horse. Most head collars are over £15 a piece, and that's a lot of money to spend if you aren't sure something is going to work for you, if your dog will chew it up the first opportunity it gets, or to find the design is flawed.
Making a DIY head collar allows you to add as much padding as you like, have the attachment point where you would like it and to have any colours and materials you choose.
Please note: No dog will accept a head collar if you just shove it on their face and expect it to work. You have to desensitise your dog by rewarding them when you put the head collar on and have them wear it for very short periods of time, gradually building up the time they can tolerate it. This will take time but it is much easier to walk a dog that enjoys the head collar than one that tries to get it off whenever your back is turned.
Also remember to never jerk, yank, or harshly tug the head collar as you can easily damage a dog's neck. Gentle guidance is all that is required; where the head goes the body will follow, and head collars make turning the dog's head so easy a child can walk a 100lb dog.
Step 1: Materials Required
I highly, highly recommend making the head collar with strong nylon webbing that is an appropriate thickness to your dog's size. Paracord is very uncomfortable and can cut a dog's face, I only used it as this halter was a prototype.
You will need:
- Nylon webbing or paracord
- Needle and thread
- 5 strong metal O rings and a stopper
- OR 3strong metal O rings and a buckle
- (Optional) Small metal snap/trigger hook
- (Optional) Glue
Step 2: Beginning
The first length of webbing should be roughly measured to be able to wrap around the dog's muzzle and then meet around the back of their head. Add a couple of inches to this measurement as it is always better to have more material than you require.
The second length should be roughy double the length of the widest part of the dog's muzzle.
Take the second length of webbing and thread the three O rings over it. Then, seal the ends of the webbing together to create a circle. I find the best way to do this is to overlap the two ends and melt them, then add in a few stitches to ensure that the join is secure. You could always wrap the join in extra material or use glue to secure it further.
You should be left with a loop of webbing with three floating rings.
Then, thread the first length of webbing through two of the O rings, making sure that you leave one ring free.
Step 3: Buckle Design
If you want a halter that buckles behind the head and has the leash attachment point under the chin, then this step is for you. If you want a halter that has two optional points of attachment, skip this step.
Attach the buckle to either side of your webbing loosely, so that it can be removed and adjusted easily.
Then, trial the halter on your dog. The big loop shown above goes over your dog's head. Take the material that is in between the two O rings and lift this, placing it over your dog's muzzle. The smaller loop at the bottom should be below your dog's muzzle. Adjust the fit of the buckles so that the halter is tight enough that the dog cannot slide it off easily, but not so tight that it digs into their eyes. Mark on the webbing where the buckle should go.
Attach the buckle securely to the halter in the position that you marked, sewing and melting it into place.
If you would like the halter to be adjustable (which I recommend) you can add a plastic slide lock along with the buckle and stitch this all into place.
You can now get your dog used to wearing the halter, using the guide in Step 5 to fit it, although I do recommend creating a safety device (Step 6).
Step 4: Two-point Attachment Design
Slide the stopper onto the halter, so that the stopper can be freely slid along the entire length.
After the stopper is on, attach the remaining O rings so that there is one O ring on the end of each side of the halter. I folded over the webbing, melted the end in place and sewed it to ensure it won't come undone. Again, you can add extra webbing over the top or glue to ensure a strong hold.
Step 5: Fitting the Halter
The longest loop, loop "A" is slid over the dog's head like a collar would be. The smaller loop should hang below their neck and the buckle or stopper should be at the back of the head.
Spread apart the two O rings that are attached to both loops of fabric. Take the fabric of the longer loop and lift this up to create loop "B".
Loop "B" should be placed over the dog's muzzle.
Tighten the stopper, or adjust the buckle, so that the halter is fitted tightly to the dog. You should be able to get two fingers between the halter and the dog's skin, and it should not ride into their eyes, but they should not easily be able to get it off.
There are two points of attachment: "Y" is the classic point of attachment and is preferred by most people and used in many commercial brands. It offers the most control and can be used to close the dog's muzzle in an emergency if the halter is fitted correctly.
"X" is good for dogs with short snouts, dogs that don't like having the halter under the chin or if the halter twists around too much. It cannot close the dog's mouth but will pull the dog's head down to break eye contact.
In the above example, the halter is too loose on my dog and the loop is hanging. I will be creating a halter out of nylon webbing that is a better fit, the paracord model was just to check if the design worked.
Step 6: (Optional) Safety Link
So you have your halter and it's working very well, but what if your dog managed to pull it off? They would be able to bolt.
A simple safety link will prevent this.
Take your snap hook/other fastener and attach it to a length of paracord securely. Cut the paracord to a generous length; you want to be able to use the halter to control your dog without the paracord getting in the way.
Tie or otherwise securely attach the other end of the paracord to one of the leash attachment points (the under chin one is best). Then, clip the snap hook onto the D ring of the collar.
This way, if your dog ever managed to get the halter off, the lead is attached to the halter and the halter is attached to the dog's collar, so you won't lose your dog.
Step 7: Extras
- Consider padding the halter with fleece or soft material to prevent rubbing.
- Regularly check the halter's fit and condition to ensure it doesn't rub or cut your dog.
- Condition your dog to the halter properly- take it slowly and use plenty of rewards to get your dog used to wearing the halter. You don't want the halter to be associated with stress.
- The halter by itself isn't magic, you still have to put in training to stop your dog pulling. I suggest consulting a force-free trainer if you aren't having much luck.
- Be gentle using the halter, corrections are magnified so it only takes a small movement to get your dog's attention. Jerking on the leash will most likely end up harming your dog.
- Never use a halter with an extendable or long lead, or to tie your dog out.