Using a Long-Line Lead: Balancing Freedom and Control

Dogs love freedom, but as responsible owners, we understand the importance of having control. Long-lines provide a perfect solution, granting dogs more freedom while still keeping them within our reach. It’s a safe and effective way to practice recall training and simulate the feeling of being off-lead. However, if your dog’s recall training hits a roadblock, seeking advice from a certified dog behaviorist is always advisable.

Embracing the Power of Long-Line Leads

Long-lines come in various lengths, ranging from 3 to 30 meters. As a dog owner, you must become accustomed to holding them properly. While most long-lines have a handle, you can also opt for ones without. Unlike retractable long leads, long-line leads are fixed in length and offer increased durability. They are available in different materials suited to different dog sizes. Lightweight fabric long-lines are perfect for small dogs, while biothane, grippy material, or heavy-duty webbing are more suitable for larger dogs. Regardless of your choice, ensure the line can be comfortably held in your hand without causing any discomfort.

Mastering the Art of Handling

  1. Unravel the line: Before attaching it to your dog’s harness, make sure there are no kinks or knots in the line.
  2. Create a loose hoop: Wrap the line loosely around your hand, forming a hoop that is easy to hold.
  3. Harness over collar: Attach the long-line to a harness rather than a collar. This way, if your dog suddenly runs and reaches the end of the line, they are less likely to injure themselves. If your dog’s harness has both front and back fastenings, choose the back fastening to minimize the risk of tangling.
  4. Two-handed grip: Hold the line with both hands. The hand nearest to your dog will manage the slack and can slow them down if necessary. The other hand holds the rest of the line, including the handle if present. This technique allows you to give your dog more freedom by letting the line slide through your first hand, while your second hand can reel them in if needed. By using both hands, you ensure a gentler stop and reduce the chances of dropping the line.
  5. Grip and release: Instead of simply pulling the end of the long line to stop your dog, use the hand closest to them to grip and release the line gradually, gently slowing them down until they come to a complete stop.
  6. Trail on the ground: Once your dog becomes more responsive, you can progress to a stage where you let the long line trail on the ground without holding it. This step allows you to practice recall while still having the dog under control with the lead if necessary.
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Being Mindful of Safety

While long-line leads offer valuable training opportunities, it’s important to remain mindful of potential hazards and surroundings.

  • Manage line length: Avoid reeling out the full length of the long line unnecessarily. Even if you have a 5-meter long line, your dog doesn’t need all of it at all times. Too much slack can lead to tangles and a loss of control, especially in busy environments.
  • Stay alert: Always be aware of your surroundings when giving your dog freedom on the long line. Sudden movements or unexpected distractions can result in the line slipping through your hands, potentially causing injury.
  • Untangling tips: If you and your dog find yourselves tangled up, try to keep your dog still. Use treats as a diversion to capture their attention while you work on untangling the line.
  • Choose the right lead: When you reach the point where the long line trails on the ground without your grip, opt for a lead without a handle or consider cutting the handle off. This modification reduces the chances of the line getting caught on branches or other obstacles.
  • Maximizing training benefits: Long-line leads are excellent for training behaviors such as recall in a controlled and safe manner. For more information, check out our video on teaching your dog a recall.

Remember, long-line leads strike the perfect balance between granting your dog freedom and ensuring their safety. It’s important to invest time and effort into mastering the proper handling techniques. With patience and dedication, you’ll enhance your dog’s training and strengthen the bond between you. To find high-quality long-line leads, visit Karen’s Kollars.

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