Whether your dog is in recall practise, has a high prey drive, needs reassurance or is over reactive towards other dogs- knowing how to use a long line can make all the difference!
Long lines should always be attached to a harness, never a collar as dogs can get whiplash if they hit the end of the lead at spead.
There are different types of long lead, from round fabric, to flat, thin, to fat, woven, padded or plastic (biothane). Different leads suit different dogs. For eg Biothane round may be too whippy for fast dogs or too slippy for strong dogs. Be aware of using a too heavy long line- these can alter a small or light dog’s gait if they are dragging it, tilting/twisting their body subtlety to the side the lead falls on. Lighter leads are great for recall training, especially in the latter stages of proofing.
Different length lines suit different dogs. Super fast dogs may do better on a ten metre line so they hit the end less frequently. Slower dogs may do better on a 5 metre line. Really strong or heavy dogs are likely safer to be walked on shorter lines (5 or 3 metre) because the longer the lead- the greater the force becomes at the end of the lead as it gets longer.
Avoiding the line being knotted at the start of the walk can reduce fluster in handlers and avoid frustration developing in dogs. Coil your longline into a neat circle with the handle threaded through the middle, then clip it to your belt/belt loop to keep it out of the way. Longlines stuffed into bags and pockets often end up knotted and make changing leads over problematic.
You have two options of handling the lead.
1) Big loops held in one hand that unravel as the dog travels, and are looped/gathered back up as the dog pauses/slows. With thick, flat long lines or extra long leads- this often results in tangling. With fast paced dogs suddenly launching off this can result in a loop tightening quickly around a hand.
2) Letting the lead drag behind you suits extra long leads, thick flat leads or really fast, strong dogs. Tie a couple of warning knots in the last 5-10 metres so you know your lead is running out.
Do not let the lead pool on the floor. This allows dogs to pick up speed, causing a huge yank as they hit the end of the lead that can cause injury to handler or dog. You want the lead to be soft (a little loose) but not touching the ground. Slower paced dogs are less risky to keep extra slack in the lead. Keep two hands on the lead as often as possible- especially with fast paced dogs, over reactive dogs, dogs with a high prey drive or dogs who are exceptionally strong.
While your dog is sniffing, walk slowly ahead- this enables you to cover more ground when they start to move again! Plus, it helps you guide your dog and be in the optimum position for reinforcing behaviours such as them checking in.
When you want to stop your dog, do so by gradually increasing pressure on the lead so it slides to a stop over a few inches. Move your body and arms into the stop- this prevents you getting huge jolts which can be painful and stressful to both handler and dog.
Ensure you always have your legs braced – more so with fast or strong dogs! If you stand with your legs together- you may well be pulled off your feet.
Treats on the floor can help give you time to sort your lead out! Just be mindful of other dogs being around- you don’t want squabbles over food.
During dog greetings stand on the opposite side of you dog to the other dog (I failed to describe this accurately in the video!). Hold the lead at an upward angle, keeping it soft to avoid tension and defensive behaviour. Ensure it’s not so loose dogs get tangled or you loose control if the interaction doesn’t go well. Try and be 1.5-3 metres away from your dog to ensure you have control! Avoid your dog greeting other dogs at the end of a 5 or 10 metre long lead- you have little control if you need it.
If you’ve stopped and you can’t get your dog to come back, walk up the lead as demonstrated in the video. Getting closer to your dog may get their attention or you can try putting a treat to their nose to encourage them away.
Watch your dog! If you have a dog on a longline, always make sure you’re facing them! There’s nothing worse than getting a massive yank in the opposite direction to which you’re facing!
Here’s a video tutorial
Please be aware that this is a non scripted, impromptu video…..I refuse to take responsibility for anything that doesn’t make sense!
NB: Often throughout this video I often use one hand….like a massive hypocrite!
This is partially due to gesturing while I am talking. On some occasions I am stopping my dog with one or two fingers around the lead.
Please don’t mirror this! I have been using a long line for years so can read my dog’s behaviour and the environment fluently knowing when two hands are needed. But also my dog is only 14 kilo and as a climber I have quite strong fingers! If this was a heavier or faster dog, or Kanita was more aroused- I absolutely would be using my whole hand and probably both of them!