spaniel in a field

How to use the Long Lead correctly

The Fundamentals of Long Lead Walking

The fundamentals of long lead walking are simple, to build and install good solid off lead walking.

Many owners struggle with off lead walking, they are either worried the dog will run away or the dog simply has not been trained to recall.

In an ideal world, when the dog hears the word “come” he or she should stop what they are doing and run back toward you. But that is not always the case, with many dogs thinking the command to come is not for them.

At the end of the day it is firmly imprinted in a dogs DNA to roam free and explore, we as the human have to allow them to embrace this instinct but in a controlled manner.

The foundation or starting point of allowing your dog to walk free is the long lead training. Like any other lead we need to get our dogs accustomed to it first, this is the easy bit as we just walk with them as normal. Giving them time to adjust to the length of the lead allows them to walk or run at that given distance.

spaniel in a field

The next stage requires confidence on our part as we will be dropping the lunge rein and allowing it to drag behind. The trick here is to intermittently stand on the lead, always making sure our dogs are focused on us rather than distracted by a bird, squirrel, rabbit or another dog for example.

You can choose to use a reward, either treats or a toy, to encourage focus however a large proportion of dogs will not be interested in food while they are out in high stimuli areas.

An alternative would be to introduce either a voice command or even a whistle as the sound of the whistle will travel further than your voice. Using the whistle will also help to disguise your emotion or panic if your dog is running.

By having the lunge rein to step on and the whistle to recall, your dog will always get the right message. Clear and consistent communication is essential and is what a lot of training comes down to. Never set your dog up to get it wrong.

If we practice these simple fundamentals of long lead walking then over time our dog will cease chasing or running off while out free walking.