A Very Misunderstood Piece of Working Gear
Many service dog teams, as well as owners of pet dogs, use head halters. There are a variety of brands and styles available.
Occasionally, some people will ask if a service dog is wearing a muzzle. Of course he is not! There is no reason a service dog should need to wear a muzzle, so, if you run into a service dog team and the dog is wearing a similar head halter, there’s no need to worry.
Head halters are used for a variety of reasons. Many pet owners will use them as training tools, when they are teaching their pets to walk nicely on a leash. Some pet owners misuse head halters by relying on them as a substitute for effective leash training.
The function of head halters for dogs is comparable to head halters that are used on horses. Some vary in form and function, but most are similar in nature.
There are a variety of reasons service dog handlers choose to make a head halter a permanent part of their dog’s working gear. These reasons vary, dependent on the team’s needs. Some teams use them so they can communicate with each other a little better by the sensitive feedback the head movement provides. This can be helpful for service dogs who do medical alerting. Other handlers may use head halters to assist in directing their service dogs, under certain circumstances. Like other handling methods, each team’s use of these tools may vary.
To disprove the misconception that head halters are not muzzles, this photo shows that dogs can, indeed, open their mouths, while wearing head halters. They do not serve the same function as a muzzle would, as the movement of the dog’s mouth is not inhibited.
It is strongly recommended that dog owners do not use head halters on their dogs, without first learning safe handling and training techniques. Misuse can result in injury to the dog.