Walking Your Dog on a Long Leash
Most pet owners feel short dog leashes are restrictive, so they dream of walking their dogs off leash. While this thought process is understandable, it’s not a safe option. Leashes are used as safety lines because they prevent dogs from running away, accidentally walking into roadways, and running up to strange dogs and people. There’s a reason states are issuing mandatory leash laws and that’s because leashes save dogs’ lives. The solution? Use a long dog leash.
Walking a dog on a long leash will provide your dog a sense of freedom, yet keep him safely contained. Before teaching your dog to walk on a long leash, you should first understand how and when to use a long dog leash. Plus, you’ll need to teach your dog a certain skill set before wandering around.
Choosing a Long Dog Leash
Safe long leashes are between 8- to 15-feet long and are made of nylon. These leashes look like super long leashes with a soft hand loop on one end and a sturdy clip on the other end. Retractable leashes are not considered safe long leashes. They’re not user-friendly due to the fickle “stop” button and the weak leash attachments inside the handle. Safe long leashes are sold in most pet retailers and online.
Use Only With a Body Harness
To keep your dog safe, only attach a long leash to your dog’s body harness. Long leashes attached to collars are extremely harmful and can cause permanent damage to a dog’s neck. Attach a long leash to your dog’s harness back clip and not the front one (i.e. located on your dog’s chest) to prevent sudden injury.
Use a Long Line Once a Dog Has Learned Polite Behaviors
Long leashes provide dogs more freedom, but dogs must have a certain skill set before walking 15 feet ahead of pet owners. Once your dog will walk politely (won’t pull) on leash 90% of the time, then it’s time to practice these behaviors using a long line.
Your dog should also respond 90% of the time to the cues below to ensure you and your dog are safe during walks with a long leash.
As an example, dogs walking on a longer leash are able to chase small vermin or gobble up discarded food before pet owners are able to see it. If you’re not sure if your dog will respond to these cues, it’s best to use a 6-foot nylon leash instead of a long line.
Think of holding a long leash like a fishing pole; pet owners must constantly adjust the line tension, depending on their dog’s location.
Start With a Shorter Leash First
Walking a dog on a long leash can be challenging for the pet owner because certain handling skills are needed. Before loading up your dog and going for a walk in the woods using a 15-foot leash, practice reeling in a long leash. Think of holding a long leash like a fishing pole; pet owners must constantly adjust the line tension, depending on their dog’s location. Start slow, let out 8 feet of leash at first, and then slowly increase 1-2 feet of leash based on your environment.
Long leashes should not touch the ground during walks. Keeping it above ground prevents the leash from tangling around a dog’s legs and trees. When your dog walks closer to you, gather up the extra leash in your hands. This may seem cumbersome, but with lots of practice, it becomes an automatic response as a dog moves back and forth.