Can You Use a Gentle Leader With a Harness? (Solved & Explained!)

While you could conceivably use a Gentle Leader with a front or back clip harness, it is not recommended.

Each of these solutions is designed to work very differently, with the Gentle Leader focusing on steering the head, while the harness is designed to take pressure off the neck and control by means of a lead on the chest or the back.

As such, while it wouldn’t affect the harness much, there is no guarantee how this would affect control of the head. The Gentle Leader is designed to be safe for your dog and has been heavily tested in a number of scenarios, but not in scenarios where a unintended combination has been put together.

As such, we cannot recommend using a Gentle Leader in a way that has not been tested, approved, or even recommended by their vendors. Since it is designed to control a dog’s head, this should be considered risky at best.

In today’s article, we’ve collected questions trending the most on the web this week in regards to the Gentle Leader. Is it humane? Does it help with reactive dogs such as Beagles? Read on to find out the  answers to these questions and more!

Note: If you click some of the links or pictures in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What is a Gentle Leader?

A Gentle Leader is a specialized training collar that is not actually a muzzle, but still gives control of a dog’s head much in the same way that a hose halter would. Properly fitted, it provides extra control to keep dogs from pulling and transfers the energy of such pulls to the dog’s head, rather than the neck.

When the dog pulls, the resulting pressure leads them to stop pulling so that they can get comfortable again.

PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar, No-Pull Dog Collar, Perfect for Leash & Harness Training, Stops Pets from Pulling and Choking on Walks, Medium, Black

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Why you shouldn’t use a Gentle Leader?

The downside of the Gentle Leader is that it is really more of a restraining device than it is a training collar. Also, your dog gets used to walking with the Gentle Leader, so you will need to use it every time that you are walking them.

While they can be useful in keeping a dog from pulling, there are certainly desirable alternatives, such as a standard harness with a back or a chest clip, so that force is not exerted on the dog’s head, but rather on the chest or the back where it is much safer.

Yes, with a gentle harness the pressure is taken off of the neck, but as the head is attached it is reasonable to assume that some neck strain is still going to occur and you won’t get that with a regular ‘old’ harness.

Are Gentle Leaders safe for dogs?

Proponents of the Gentle Leader advise that if the product is properly fitted that it will not hurt your dog’s neck, however they also advise that you do not tug very hard, as it works by forcing your dog’s head to turn. As such, it’s hard to say that this is something which is 100% safe.

There are a number of discussions on this very subject, so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions, but ultimately one would think that if someone could pull and force your head to adjust, at the very least you would be uncomfortable and wouldn’t like that very much!

When should I start using Gentle Leader?

The Frequently Asked Questions associated with this product advise that pups of as early as 8 weeks can use this product. This would seem to be an ideal age, as it allows your pup to get used to this style of walking at an early age, before they are capable of exerting much force against this type of lead.

Are Gentle Leaders humane?

Gentle Leader’s manufacturers advise that the product is designed for dogs that are resistant to the harness, as a humane alternative for keeping dogs from pulling or attempting to bolt when walking them outside.

As it doesn’t pinch or choke your dog, but rather tries to control them by limiting the position of their heads, it might not be very pleasant for the dog, but it is kinder by comparison than a number of other options out there.

Just remember that harness training does work, if you still want to use that, it just takes a lot of practice, treats, and patience.

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Is a Gentle Leader painful?

It is probably not comfortable, as a Gentle Leader wraps around your dog’s muzzle, exerting pressure there. That said, it doesn’t choke like a slip lead or dig into the skin like a prong collar, nor does it shock your dog like an e collar.

Extended use could result in stiffness in your dog’s neck if they are still trying to bolt all of the time, but during actual use it is likely more restraining, rather than painful.

How long does it take for a dog to get used to a Gentle Leader?

Most people who have used this product advise that it takes about 2 weeks before your dog will adjust to this type of walking and stop trying to paw it off of their faces. During this time, you should distract them with play and treats to help minimize such behaviors until your dog can adjust to the Gentle Leader.

As it ‘clamps’ over the mouth, it can take a little getting used, and much like how your dog pulls away when you gently hold their mouth closed, you can expect a little resistance when you are first trying this out.

Can you use Gentle Leaders on small dogs?

Yes, you can use Gentle Leaders on small dogs, as the product is available in small, medium, and large options so that any dog may use the Gentle Lead as a walking option.

Be sure to test the fit of the harness before purchase, if possible, and be sure to check the specifications closely to ensure that it will be a proper fit for your dog.

Why is the Gentle Leader a successful tool for dogs who pull?

The biggest reason why the Gentle Leader can help with dogs that tend to pull is the same reason that some people dislike it.

By controlling where your dog looks, you can prevent a dog from ‘fixating’ on a certain target, such as a desirable location or another animal that they intend to pull your towards so they can get a closer look.

This works well, as redirecting your dog to look at you for further commands helps to keep them from obsessing over their desired destination, making this a definite point in favor of this product.

Is Gentle Leader good for reactive dogs?

Yes, a Gentle Leader is a good option for extremely reactive dogs. Certain Breeds, especially hunting dogs like Beagles, have a knack for behaving one minute and then suddenly darting in a seemingly random direction when they spot something.

They can’t help it, but the Gentle Lead allows you to effectively distract them as-needed. If you don’t like pulling their head, you could try a vibrating collar to help accomplish this, but arguably the Gentle Lead design can be a quite effective option where others have failed and does this without pinching or poking, which is always a plus!