A long line is a very effective tool in training your dog to come back to you when it is called. It enables you to give your dog the impression of freedom while still retaining control, even at a distance, until you have established a reliable recall.
Using a long line removes the fear factor, as it gives you a broader area within which to exercise your dog without worrying that it will run off, and it prevents you from having to run after your dog to catch it – or allow it to learn that it can out-run you!
A long line can help you to socialise your dog by allowing to mix with other dogs I the park so that it can learn essential social skills, while you remain in overall control.
The long line is attached to a dog’s collar or ideally, a harness, and should be trailed along the ground behind the dog so that it can be trodden on to slow the dog down and then stop it completely if needed. Ideally, use the long line on your dog in large open spaces where the line is less likely to get tangled around trees, shrubs, other dogs or humans.
Cut the line to the length you feel comfortable with. You may wish to put knots throughout the line to prevent it slipping under your foot in wet weather.
Do not hold the line in your hands, or pick up a running line, as you could suffer rope burns and might trip other people or dogs up! Place your foot on the line instead, and this will slow down and eventually stop the dog without any risk to yourself or others.
Once you have stopped your dog, you can then pick up your end of the line (making sure there are no dogs or people in the way) and call your dog while running away from it, and using the long line to get them moving in your direction. Do not stand still and drag the dog to you. Always reward your dog with treats, fuss or a game when they come back to you.
Once your dog is reliable at coming back when called, you can gradually cut the length of the line each day, so the dog does not notice it disappearing. Eventually you can then get rid of it completely. This is better than just removing the line in one go, as most dogs can tell the difference between being on the long line (and being under control) and being completely free.
Winding up and transporting the long line
Always take a large plastic bag to transport (and store) your long line to and from the park, as it will get very muddy. The line is best wound up and stored after use in a figure eight pattern to stop it from tangling up. Lines that are wound up in circles will invariably get tangled and can take forever to unwind. Remember to take your line out of the bag when you get home, to allow it to dry off, otherwise it will get damp and smelly!