5 July 2017

Long lines and why I love them

My favourite piece of equipment, the long line, also known as recall line or tracking line, has been on my mind a lot lately. I found myself using it successfully with several of my clients' dogs recently in variety of situations.

There were a few dogs who would simply run away and chase wildlife if let off leash. There were reactive dogs, who felt too restricted on normal, 6ft leads and were lunging at other dogs and barking. A puppy, who is still learning about her environment and recall. A dog who pulls her owner around to get to interesting stuff. And last but not least my own young dog Arco, who is a deer chaser in the making, a puller, and is excited by just about anything.

Any dog and any owner will benefit from using a long line. Let's say you have a puppy or a young dog, just like myself, and you want to go for nice countryside walks but your little riot is out of his mind there and your walks are really more about survival of the fittest than relaxing strolls. Enter the long line. There is something about being on a longer lead that instantly changes the picture for the dog. I have a 10m/30ft line for walks like these, clip it on and the dog transforms into a calm explorer, sniffing here and there, trotting to interesting places, stopping to pee on just about anything, and all this while you walk and enjoy the sunshine.

Going to the park only to see your dog disappearing in the distance? Why not use the long line? Apart from it being quite dangerous to let your uneducated pooch run free, he can also access all dogs, people, squirrels, and more, and you have no control over it. Put him on a long line and then you choose what is accessible at any time and what isn't.

Most, if not all, barky and reactive dogs improve amazingly when put on a long line. Just the other day I was working with two young sisters who barked at everything excitedly and/or out of frustration, and wound each other up. Attached to 6ft leads they were pretty bad, and they pulled like fluffy little horses. When switched to long lines they totally changed: they started sniffing, ignored other dogs, there was no pulling as they had enough space to do what they wanted, no barking.

Of course a long line cannot be used everywhere. When you are walking down the street you need to have your dog on a short lead, or even in the park, there are times the long line is just not an option, like if there are many dogs around and yours would tangle everybody up. But used wisely it is an invaluable tool.

I own the two lines in the photo. The yellow one used to be 5m/15ft long. After Arco chewed a piece off it's a bit shorter. The black and orange one is 10m/30ft long. I have had the shorter one for at least 4 years and I have used it with my own dogs, my foster dogs and many of my clients' dogs and couldn't do without it. Both can be purchased at zooplus.co.uk. 

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