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Extending Leashes and Long Lines

Learn why an extending leash isn’t the best (or the safest) training choice, and how to use a long line instead.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
Episode #146

Rule #2 - Once you’ve attached the long line, pay out only about 8 or 10 feet of it – you’re generally going to keep your dog closer than most people do with an extending leash. Loop the line around your hand. (You can wear a glove to further protect your skin.) If your dog takes off, the loop will tighten and form a brake so you don’t get rope burn and your dog doesn’t either knock herself flat hitting the end of the line or head for the next county trailing 40 feet of rope.

Rule #3 - Be careful not to let the trailing line get between your legs or wrap around an ankle. Again, rope burn.

Rule #4 - Try to keep the rope to your dog’s side rather than between his legs, and if it ever loops around one of his legs immediately unwrap it.

Supervise Your Dog When Using a Long Line

Supervise your dog just as if she were completely at liberty. If she perks up over something distant or out of sight, go closer to her, taking up some of the rope as you go so that neither of you can get hurt if she takes off running. On the other hand, if she’s trotting toward an obvious goal that’s within the rope’s length, pay out enough line to let her reach it. Then walk up to her, again taking up the line as you go so that you’re generally giving her no more than that original 8 or 10 feet of slack.

If you’re going to let your dog drag the line, tie a knot in it every few feet; when you’re walking up the line to collect your dog, the knots can serve as a brake if she starts to wander away, pulling the line with her.

I wish I had a dollar for every person I’ve seen texting while their dog gets into trouble 25 feet away, at the other end of the extending leash. But a long line does no work for you; instead, it pushes you to pay attention to your surroundings and to your dog. That’s exactly the right frame of mind to be in: Engagement and attentiveness are half the battle in dog training, no matter which end of the leash you’re on.

You can follow The Dog Trainer on Twitter, where I’m Dogalini. I’m The Dog Trainer on Facebook, and you can also write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. Though I can’t reply individually, I welcome your comments and suggestions, and I may use them as the basis for future articles.

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