Why the Long Face?! (and Line)

We love long lines!! They can be a fantastic aid to dog training when needed. Let me explain…..

A common association can occur in dog training with the use of long lines. Some people see them as a negative thing rather than the fantastic training aid that they are.

When suggesting using these in our training we are sometimes met with the following responses, these are often accompanied by the long or puzzled face from the owner – (hence the blog title 😂)

Phrases such as:

“Oh my dog doesn’t need a long line”

“They can do it perfectly at home”

“They wont run off they have brilliant recall”

Here’s the thing….

The statements above may well be true in certain situations but like I have previously mentioned in my last blog post dog’s are massively effected by the environment they are in, things we wouldn’t perhaps consider can effect how the dog behaves, also the relationship the dog has with the owner plays a big part in every aspect of dog training. Maintaining that relationship in lots of different environments can be hard work!!

Long lines are my number 1 go to when owners are struggling with certain training areas such as recall, focus and impulse control in certain environments/ situations.

They give the owner the confidence to carry out the training without the fear of the dog running off or getting distracted by sniffing for example. This enables the owner to focus on the task at hand and the line is simply there as a back up.

At this point I will mention that a long line should be used as if it wasn’t there at all, it should just trail on the floor as if it wasn’t there. It shouldn’t be used as a lead or be held onto by the handler. It is purely a back up to stop the dog rehersing the unwanted behaviors the dog may have such as running away, or to give the handler confidence to concentrate on the training task instead of worrying about what the dog is going to do.

It should always be attached to a harness and never to a head collar. (if the dog is running fast and you try to stop it sharply you could badly damage or even break its neck!! 😱 )

If your dog does run off when using a long line, firstly excitedly call your dog back then step on the line – do not attempt to pull it with your hands as it can burn / cut your skin. Keep calling your dog in a friendly way, make yourself really exciting. Remember the line is just there as a back up if absolutely necessary, always implement your recall training before using the line to stop the dog.

Long lines when used correctly can give the dog freedom. They give the dog the ability to go off and explore their environment a little further away from the owner with the added safety that you can get them back if needed. They give them the freedom to tap into some natural behaviours like sniffing or enable them to engage in a game of fetch with the owner without the added worry of them going off too far unexpectedly.

Recall is an essential skill to train your dog. There is so much more to teaching a recall than simply just calling your dog back. It requires lots of training.

Recall training starts at home, in the house. When the dog can do that confidently take the recall to the garden. It should be taught at home in safety completely off lead.

Get in touch and let me help you achieve fantastic recall results by using games! Or book onto one of our workshops or training classes.

If your dog has poor recall then do not allow it off lead in public / open spaces – use a long line to give them that bit more freedom and to enable you to confidently implement their training with the added back up of the line.

Using a long line will give you the confidence to teach your dog to be allowed more freedom and it will limit the rehearsal of unwanted behaviour.

By using a long line when teaching a recall you limit the dogs opportunity to get distracted and run over to the passing squirrel, dog, cyclist or bird – you get the picture!

Dog’s will repeat what they find rewarding!

If you are in a new or exciting environment, or something new is added to that environment that isn’t normally there (random jogger in the park when it’s usually empty) your dog has got to make a choice:

*Dog recalls to you (the best choice)

*Dog chases or goes over to the jogger/dog/ bike etc

It’s important when they do make the good choices that we are rewarding them with something that the dog loves!

Dogs make choices every second they are awake.

It is up to us as good owners to train the dog to make the right choices…..

And how do we do that I hear you ask?!


With games!!

Dog’s find all manner of things rewarding – sniffing, chasing, hunting, eating, playing.

Play the games with your dog that they love which tap into those rewarding desires.

We are asking a lot of our dogs to compleatly forget all their natural behaviours and desires – those exact desires us as humans looked for when breeding dogs over generations to perform certain tasks.

We are expecting our dogs to ignore those desires and for example, come back to us when called.

This is hard for the dog! Especially when there is so many exciting things going on around them.

So how do we do this?

The 1st step is:

Teaching your dog to value you and to want to hang around with you in all situations and environments no matter how distracting and exciting those situations are! They need to find you more exciting and rewarding than what they are currently doing.

With recall we are asking them to come away from something they really desire and they are really enjoying doing- even if we don’t! Fox poo, other dogs, birds, joggers – whatever your dog is valuing more than the recall.

The second step if the dog is struggling with distractions:

Breaking the rehearsal of running away by using a long line. Practice your training in new environments, take your time and don’t overpower your dog by adding too many distractions too soon – set the dog up to succeed, introduce 1 small distraction at a time and slowly build on that.

We teach recall using several games, these games are tailored to tap into that thing that your dog values.

For more information and to see what classes and training workshops we have on offer just head over to the relevant sections of our website!

Play….. Train…… Enjoy….. Succeed!

Happy Training 🐾

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