Saturday, 12 November 2016

Bottom line

It seems to me lines are the new flexi lead.  Understandably flexi lead's have their many detractors and something has to fill the gap.

Why use a flexi lead or longline?

I would use a flexi lead in places I felt I couldn't safely let my dog off yet wanted to give him more freedom, allow him to sniff and have a mini lollop.  I would also use flexi lead to test his attention to me before I considered letting them off.  I have a very high prey drive dog so a Flexi lead can be a life saver albeit a shoulder wrenching, feet flying whoa there moments.

The same can be said about a line.

They can be an excellent aid, helping to extend your 'power', allow more freedom and distance whilst training yet still have contact.

An aid to move your dog along:

- if he should happen upon a tasty morsel and not listen to your enthusiastic leave or

- more often allow close access to food without being able to grab it whilst you wait for your dog to choose the better option( for us maybe not the dog haha) of leaving it.

I value the slight inhibiting effect they have on my hunting dogs, reminding them they belong to someone, that they should keep in mind and not lose themselves in the hunt.

Professionally, when walking other people's dogs, I use them for training and an added safety measure when I am unsure of a 99% response.  They help me back up my requests and ensure, should we fail as a pair with a task, I can quickly stop anything escalating.

For example, recall training in a young dog:

1. start with him and I.

2. progress to him and I and, if available, another handler so I can do round robins( a recall game where each handler will call and reward in turn producing a fun running game).

3. bring a couple of my experienced dogs for the pup to copy making a recall fun yet consistent.

4. bring the pup out with a few experienced dogs, ones I can rely on to help keep the pup within the social dog walk boundaries.  This allows me time spent out and about, teaching the pup on line with the help of others who know the way the fun group walks work.

It all takes time and dedication, a luxury available to me having only long term consistent dogs.  For me a dog walk is time spent teaching them safe play, good manners and how to handle many things they come across.

What do I think handlers ( professional and pert owners training their own dogs) should avoid when handling/ training with long lines? A running line left dangling behind a dog on a walk is a serious liability to the public whilst out walking.  Not only could the line be stood on, if you have ever done this with a running dog on a line you will soon fine how easy it is to flip a human!
They can wrap around your legs nasty burns can happen.

Should a dog be caught up in a line that your dog is attached to either could panic which could flare up any anxieties either may have, consequences I simply don't want to even have to think about.  Most people appreciate the risks for the dog being caught in a tree or fence and unable to escape, that simply isn't a problem if you keep the line in your grip which is the 'correct' way to use a line if the dog has an unreliable recall.

Safety must also be paramount, when using a line, with the dog that is on line.  A well fitted sturdy harness should always be used with a line, ensuring any force created by the line is dissipated through a harness not on a collar and all the delicate structures underneath.

How do I see lines being used?

Most lines I see being used are by commercial dog walkers.  Many have multiple dogs with multiple lines in the same group.  As commercial walkers we all need to earn money however this should be within the boundaries of safe care, numbers of appropriately trained dogs and with thought to all the other public space users.

If we think of why lines are used, how they are used correctly and safely then thought has to go into the use of multiple lines with numbers of other dogs whilst out in the public.

- Is it possible to slow down and work on smaller numbers whilst still earning enough to run a business?

-Could a system of one dog on line along with a dog on a short lead and alternating so each get exercise, education and entertainment with no compromise on safety?

-What about talking to our clients so they understand how valuable it is to have a professional who will put safety and training needs above overall profit thus allowing you more time to create that perfect walking group that listens and understands the freedom training allows?