03 Nov The Highly Annoying Long Line
I recommend that my clients use long lines (15-20ft leashes) when they are training for off-leash, but I am the first one to admit that they are highly annoying. Today we were exercising the dogs when the the Tyson’s long line got caught under a huge rock, just as 2 large shepherds ran over to greet us. I was limited with how to handle this situation so I just fed Tyson the extra special treats he gets in the presence of large dogs. It was fine. B, got frustrated and started yanking on the long line to free it. Later on, it tripped him. So why do you need to use one of these? During the foundation training, we never want our dog to learn that it is ok to run away from us. New puppy owners are especially guilty of letting their dogs, ‘go visit’. They are naive if they think that every dog wants a visit from a puppy – a lot of older dogs find puppies annoying. Believe it or not, there are some humans who don’t like dogs, even adorable puppies. From a foundation training perspective, if you allow Spree to run off, you are teaching him, it’s ok to run off whenever he feels like it. Yes, there are times when we want to allow our dogs to ‘go visit’ but we should always own that reward, get attention first, make our dog sit, and then release him.
With reactive dogs, the long line serves a crucial function. If your dog is reactive to skateboards, children, larger dogs, etc., he may implement the flight or fight strategy. Either way the long line is your reassurance the you can work to prevent this problem behaviour. As soon as you see the potential trigger of reactivity, you can step on the long line, reward your dog for the presence of no reactivity, and move on. I always drop the long line. I am confident that I can step on it. I know Tyson’s triggers so well that I am steps ahead of him. I have also done the work of teaching him to come to me and get rewarded when he sees the triggers. The long line gives me the confidence to give him more freedom. Of course for extra reassurance, you can hold on to it, or tie the line to a tree while you are playing. Make sure you tie a couple of knots at the end so when you step on it, it doesn’t slide under your food. Unfortunately, the knot factor will increase the chances of it getting tangled and you must also keep your eye on it so it doesn’t trip anyone, but who ever said training was easy?