In this week’s 5 Paw Friday, we’re chatting about the many uses and benefits of using a long training lead or long line especially for working on the cue “come.” I often use my long line with dogs a few times a day, and frequently hear “Wow! That’s a really long leash!” from passerbys.

So why on earth would you want to use a long line for dog training. Lemme explain a little…

Long lines allow for…

  • Training sessions with your dog that can mimic your dog working off-leash.
  • Safety in open spaces without fencing
  • Adherence to leash laws *although* some areas (including our local beaches) will limit the number of feet that a leash or line can be.
  • Assessment of recalls with distractions
  • Ability to increase the difficulty of distractions while still setting up your dog for success
  • Practice of other skills such as sit and down stay, leave it, and wait at a distance
  • Greater exercise and exploration… Exploration is great for building a shy and fearful’s dog’s confidence and encourages more independence and curiosity.

The Downsides of Long Lines are…

  • The handler must be relatively strong and balanced/steady to handle a dog on a long line.
  • Dogs must have a good foundation for “come” before being worked on a long line.
  • Use of a long line requires attention! It’s easy to get wrapped up in a long line and pulled down.
  • If you grab a long line while your dog is moving fast, you risk rope burns on your hands. Some handlers use gloves for protection!

Here are a few tips on using a long line…

  • Don’t jerk a dog for not coming to you; instead, gently prompt your dog to come with just a small amount of movement with the line i.e. “Hey! Remember me? I’m right back here.” When working around distractions, or when your dog is deeply involved in sniffing an area and the brain has moved completely down to his nose, a light reminder is often all that’s needed to get his attention. It should have a ‘polite’ quality just like when your friend taps you on the shoulder.
  • Dogs can take off very quickly, and before you blink, have traveled 30 + feet away. Don’t jerk a dog when he’s running at high speed, or attempt to stop him abruptly if at all possible. Even when you are paying close attention to your dog, it’s certainly possible that he’ll see something and sprint off quickly. For this reason, it’s a great idea to use a body harness with the ring over the back, not centered on your dog’s chest. It’s also extremely important to avoid using Gentle Leaders or any other brand of head halters.
  • Stick to the basics: Say your dog’s name and then pause to make sure that you have his attention. All systems go? Call him once not twice. It’s action time now! Either your action or the dog’s action. If he doesn’t immediately begin to turn towards you and begin moving in, you’ll need to get to him quickly so that you can engage his attention. Be nice, be fun, but make “come” mandatory not optional.
  • Keep “come” fun while training: don’t call the dog away from fun, or to you for punishment or reprimand.
  • Ever feel like a fast food drive-thru? Recall training isn’t about ordering fries with a Big Mac, it’s about getting to you and staying with you. Be ready to focus your dog when he reaches you, and don’t allow drive bys’. Reward for at least three seconds while your dog is attentive and right in front of you. It’s not necessarily about coming in and sitting, but it IS about coming and making a stop!

Thanks for reading! For more tips, view Grisha Stewart’s video below.

By Susan Marett

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