4/7/2021

Long Lines for Long Dogs

How we started: Theo with his double-ended (6ft) Biothane training lead from HandMade Hound

So, you're thinking about buying a long-line for your long dog?

Firstly, ask yourself: why do you want to use a long-line?

Have you got Instagram envy after seeing floofsters (small, fluffy dogs) tearing around having the time of their lives whilst safely attached to a long line?

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but using a long line on a Sighthound - particularly rescue greyhounds, has got absolutely nothing to do with what you may have seen other breeds doing on their Instagram Reels.

If that hasn't put you off (it wasn't meant to, I just don't want to to get your hopes up) then please read on to see how Theo (featured in the photo) and I have progressed from plodding along with a 6FT double ended lead and pavement walks only, to safely using a long line in a local meadow.

*disclaimer, this post is written based on my professional experience as a Dog Walker and my personal experience as Theo's Mum, I strongly urge you to read the whole post for support and advice before buying and trying yourself*

Freedom vs. Safety

When we bring our Sighthounds home - particularly our rescue Sighthounds, we are often overwhelmed with a very human desire to give them lots of freedom. Freedom to be in a home, freedom to be a pet, freedom, freedom, freedom. Then someone leaves a door open, or the gate doesn't click shut, or they see a cat, or next door's dog escapes the garden and makes a beeline for yours and all hell breaks loose.

Freedom, especially in the beginning stages, isn't as important as safety. So slow down, you eager beaver! For the first few days, don't even think about going out on walks at all, unless it's necessary (i'm talking about pee and poo - the dog, not you).

The first time I let Theo have a real taste of freedom was well over 6 months into adopting him. I hired a private, secure field and he massively dogfished me. I shelled out £10 for him to have a run, and he barely broke out into a trot. Lesson learnt. What Theo needed and what I thought he needed were two different things.

Power Pulling to Perfect Pooch

Be honest with yourself. Have you had your Sighthound long enough for them to truly express their personality? Or are you still in the Honeymoon stage? Is your Sighthound really ready for a long line? How much time and reward based training have you invested in teaching your Hound to walk nicely on a lead? What happens when they see a cat? Do they lunge and almost rip your arm out of it's socket or do they look at you for a tasty reward for not going crazy? If they get spooked, do they lunge away from you at breakneck speed or do they come closer for a fuss? Using a long line is a process and it's all also part and parcel of the relationship that you have your Hound - yes, I said relationship.

If your Hound is still power pulling, then they're simply not ready for a long line as it could be dangerous. Don't despair though, drop me an email to meerapuppins@gmail.com and i'll support you in helping them turn into the perfect pooch (on lead, anyway).

I'll also add, dogs are situational learners. This means that environment is important when training them to walk nicely on a lead, particularly when using a long line. Your dog may walk beautifully on the pavement, yet turn into a kangaroo at the park (ya know, hoppy, skippy, bouncy). Pick your training and your long line based on your walks - read that again, does it make sense?

Why Length Matters

Ooh er. Some of our dogs, particularly rescue greyhounds, may never have had to walk on a lead before. True story - greyhounds are not walked on a lead. Podencos and galgos are also often kept in horrendous living conditions with no thought to their safety - never mind lead training. So what's my point? Well, it's not to expect too much from your dog. Keep things short to start with - with Theo I started with a 6ft short, double-ended training lead clipped onto his collar and his harness so I had full control if he tried to leg it. By the way - by control, I mean safety, not dragging him along by my side. He was horrendous on the lead to start off with - now he looks like a small pony trotting by my side. I'm very proud of him.

9 months into our journey together, I started experimenting with extending the lead slightly - I bought a gorgeous biothane lead and hound collar set from HandMade Hound and the lead has d-rings on it so I was able to play around with the length of Theo's lead once he had mastered walking nicely. We only practiced on the pavement to start with - as Theo is fear reactive, so it wasn't safe to try this anywhere else to begin with. In the photo above I kept the lead clipped only to his harness and clipped the other end onto one of the d-rings to make a handle (i'm really good at explaining things, aren't I? ha). I would advise you to try the same if you haven't already, it gives you a bit of a feel for walks with a long line.

Harnesses and Long Lines - a match made in a dog walker's heaven

Ok listen up, cause this bit is really important. Never ever ever ever, ever, attach a long line to a dog's collar. Just don't do it. Ever. It's risky, dangerous and downright irresponsible. At best, your dog will suffer whiplash. At worst, a broken neck. I'm not kidding. As a dog walker, I have seen things that nobody should ever see, much less do. Just don't do it. Buy a well fitting harness to go with a well fitting collar - for my recommendations see my previous blog post on 5 Top Tips to Enjoy Walks With Your Reactive Dog.

Speaking of collars, Lucy from HandMade Hound makes bespoke biothane Hound collars - I cannot recommend them highly enough. Theo has one, it is soft on his neck and doesn't rub his fur like his other martingales have and I'm not worried about him slipping his collar because it's specifically designed for their giraffe like skinny necks. And because I love the collars so much, i've bagged you all some money off if you use the code MEERAPUPPINS at check out.

Anyway, back to my point. Think about the length of the lead you currently use and the length of the long line you'd like to buy. Bear in mind there will be a fair bit of reeling the line in and out so you want something that is non-slip, durable and that won't give you 50 Shades of Regret-That-I-Bought-This burns across your hands.

Ready for recommendations?

I'll admit that I bought Theo's long line from Amazon Smile (the charity aspect soothes a small piece of my soul). I bought a brand called MyCicy because it has a handle, it is strong and not likely to snap or split. I also bought a self locking carabiner clip to attach to the long line to make it safer when I attached it to Theo's harness.

I would recommend this long line IF you are 100% absolutely not going to drop it onto the ground. It's made of a thick material that would get absolutely filthy if it got dragged around on the ground. I found it easy to reel in and out (I was wearing gloves too at the time) as it's soft and it felt quite secure.

The first time I tested it out was at 7a.m. on a freezing cold day in a local meadow where the bylaws state that dogs must be kept on leads - see what I did there? I chose a quiet environment, at the arse crack of dawn with no one else around, and legal support in the form of Theo and I sticking to the bylaws so that if an off lead dog did run up at us, and I dropped the long line or something bad happened, Theo and I would not be in the wrong. That's how much I think about the safety aspect of things.

I queued up to buy a waterproof long line from HandMade Hound but was sadly pipped to the post as they're currently sold out - they should be back in stock soon and I definitely think they're worth waiting for.

With the long lines from HandMade Hound (I had a chat with Lucy, the owner) they can be personalised in terms of length, adding a handle, and the fixtures and fittings - so you can buy one that already comes with the self-locking carabiner. Plus, aesthetically, they come in a gorgeous range of colours and did I already mention she makes matching Hound collars? Remember to use the code MEERAPUPPINS to save on your order!

How we ended: Theo with his MyCicy 10Ft long lead (7am in a freezing cold field!)

Final Thoughts

I hope you've found this article useful, and that it's answered some of your questions. If you have additional questions please do email me at meerapuppins@gmail.com

Lastly, just wanted to say that with our Sighthounds being so speedy, I wouldn't recommend dropping a long line and letting them run around as it can be really dangerous - they are often clumsy at the best of times, and the last thing you want is the lead getting tangled in their lanky long legs and tripping themselves up, or even worse, tripping somebody else over!

Take me back to the blog

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