Tips and safety for using a long line

A dog on a harness and leash

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Training your dog can be a rewarding experience for both you and your pup. Long lines are a great tool to use while training your dog to come back when called from a distance, to walk nicely beside you on and off the leash, and even for reactivity training. Long lines can provide your dog with the freedom to run around, explore, and exercise before they are fully trustworthy off-leash.

However, despite the many benefits of using a long leash during training, they can also pose safety hazards if not used properly. Here are some tips to help you use your long line safely and make it an enjoyable experience for you and your dog.

Choosing the Right Length and Material

First, make sure you are using the appropriate length of long line. If you are new to long lines, start with a 15-20ft long line and increase in length from there, depending on your needs. Avoid using a line longer than 30ft unless you are using it for a particular reason.

Keep your dog’s breed and size in mind when selecting a long line.

Smaller dogs will need a thinner and lighter material long line with a smaller-sized clip at the end compared to larger breed dogs. Materials like nylon, biothane, and rope are commonly used. Choose what works best for you based on your local weather, size of dog, and personal preference.

Using the Long Line Safely

Long lines require practice to use safely. Always attach the long line to a harness instead of a collar, so there’s no pressure on your dog’s neck or vital organs. Gloves can be worn to avoid rope burn if you’ve opted for a rope material.

While holding the leash, use a figure 8 motion to gather the extra length of the long line in one hand so you don’t hurt your hand if your dog decides to bolt. Avoid wrapping the line around your fist or between your fingers as this can be risky and cause serious injury.

Always keep the line clear of you and your dog’s feet.

To minimize the risk of the long line getting tangled around you and your pup’s feet, keep two hands on the line at all times when possible, clip it onto the back of your dog’s harness, and let the line in and out as your dog moves around, similar to belaying in rock climbing.

Being Aware of Surroundings

Staying aware of your surroundings and other dogs and people in the area is crucial. A long line is great for giving your dog more freedom, but trail manners still apply. If you are passing by other people or dogs on leash, shorten your long line so your dog doesn’t accidentally approach another dog without permission. If you are working with your long line around other off-leash dogs, keep your distance and ask other owners to call their dogs away from yours. Playing on a long line can be dangerous, as it’s easy for them to get tangled up and possibly tangle around you or other people.

Using a long line can be an invaluable tool while training your dog.

It can give your dog the freedom to explore while still maintaining control and safety. However, it’s important to use them safely to avoid any mishaps. By selecting the right length and material, using the long line properly, and being aware of your surroundings, you can train your dog safely and effectively with a long line.

If you’re looking for more guidance in leash training, get started with our loose leash walking course by signing up for a ReadyDog membership here.

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