Yes, Longlines really are dangerous!
You may wonder why we, a company that makes Longlines for a living, are warning you about how dangerous they can be.
Seems kind of counter-intuitive, right?
It’s because we love Longlines that we want to make sure everyone using one is safe (the pros definitely outweigh the cons)!
Longlines give you and your dog freedom, training opportunities, and much more.
When your wild-but-wonderful hound is flying around at the speed of light with a giant rubber-grip ribbon trailing behind him, you need to know how to keep yourself and others safe.
So, what do you need to watch out for?
Here are the five most common dangers we encounter:
Injury: Neck/shoulder/back jarring
Cause: Too much slack in the line
You're strolling along enjoying your walk while your dog is pottering about, exploring around you. The line is slack, you have hold of just the end, and maybe some of it is pooled on the ground, dragging as you go.
Suddenly, your dog's archnemesis The Squirrel appears from nowhere, and your dog shoots off like a rocket launched into space!
Before you know it, your dog has hit the end of the line and yanks. Your shoulder pops out and your neck and back are jarred in some kind of unique dog-owner whiplash scenario you can’t claim for!
Solution: Less slack and more control
Rather than holding the end of the line and leaving the rest in a pile on the ground, you need to learn how to feed your line in and out relative to your dog’s distance to you.
If your dog is close by, you need to have very little slack in the line; just enough to create a loose line.
Then, as your dog starts to move further from you, feed the line out whilst keeping only a small amount of slack.
Finally, when your dog is at the furthest point from you (10 metres, for example), they still only have around 1 metre of slack, which means they can’t pick up speed and cause that nasty yank to your shoulder!
Injury: Broken fingers
Cause: Holding your line bunched up
You’ve bought a new Longline to give your wonderful hound more freedom on walks when they can’t be off-lead. You’re worried about dropping the line, so you wrap it around your hand. You have a strong hold and you feel safe.
Moments later, your dog bolts full-speed after someone’s football soaring past. You grip harder, but the force tightens the line around your hand, crushing your fingers and bending them all in the wrong direction!
Ouch! There's a crack and you’ve broken a finger.
Solution: The line should generally be held with a very light grip, allowing it to slide through your hand with no resistance. You should only grip the line tightly when you need to stop your dog.
Longlines should be used with two hands, one to hold the gathered line and the other to lightly grip and feed the line in and out so you can bring your dog to a slow stop - much better than them hitting the end of the line hard!
Last of all, if it's safe to do so, drop the line and move away. This is a matter of knowing the area you are in and what your dog is chasing.
Injury: Longline rash/burn
Cause: Getting the line wrapped around your bare legs or grabbing with your hands
It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the shorts are on… what’s better than a lovely walk? You’ve worked hard on your recall, so you allow your dog to trail the line behind them. This is going to be a wonderful day.
It's a short walk holding the line to a large open field, over the sty and you let the line go so your dog can run about and have fun.
Boy, your dog is excited! They dart back and forth and run back to you with wild zoomies. Running in circles, they’ve wrapped around the back of you and, before you have the chance to skip the line, it tightens and runs right across your calf.
Instantly you feel a burning sensation and, when you look down, you see a perfect red rash the size of your Longline. It hurts like hell and you’re only five minutes into your walk!
This can also occur when dogs are trailing the line and they run off, you then go to grab the longline with your hands and the Longline rips and burns right across the palm of your hand.
Solution: As with some of the other dangers, the solutions can cross over. The right line size can make a big difference. If your dog's recall is strong and they come back nicely, then getting a shorter line will help. By not having as much line, it doesn't wrap around you and can’t cause the Longline rash!
Although it's nice to wear shorts when the sun is out, unfortunately it's not ideal when using a longer line. We’d recommend wearing trousers just until your dog’s recall is that little bit better and you can use a smaller line.
Gloves can also be worn while handling and standing on the line rather than picking up will save those bare hands.
Injury: Tripping a member of public
Cause: Cuts and grazes, broken bones (and a not too happy person shouting at you)
Off you head to the local park to spend time with your canine companion. It's a short drive away and one of their favourite places.
You hop out of the car and clip on your Longline, pass through the gates and into the park. It's way busier than you expected, but you’re here now! Your dog is having an amazing time running around having zoomies.
Out of the blue, someone comes jogging around the path’s bend! At the same time, your dog has run across the path, the Longline has gone tight and tripped the poor jogger.
You go over as they’re nursing their grazes, and they certainly aren’t happy with you. You are utterly embarrassed!
Solution: There are a couple of solutions to this issue. One we have addressed above, through the technique of feeding and reeling the line in and out as you go about your walk.
Most importantly, you need the appropriate Longline for where you choose to walk. If you choose local parks or tight paths, then getting the correct Longline can save this hassle very easily.
Using a 20 metre line in an open space is great for allowing your dog to run and have fun, however the same line in a busy park with walking paths, runners, children and many other distractions is not so much fun.
At Houndagrips, we have descriptions of what our lines are ideal for as we know it can be a minefield!
Injury: Falls with cuts and bruises (more so, embarrassment!)
Cause: Too much line
You've been told to use a Longline to train your dog’s recall. You've left training class and, with everything else you have to remember, you’ve forgotten what the trainer said about lines. You go online, make your choice and wait for delivery.
What a relief: it's arrived and you can start training! Straight out to the park - let’s get this recall trained.
Five minutes at the park and you are all a tiz. The line is tangled around you and your dog! You try to grab hold of your dog to keep them steady, but it's all a big game to them.
You go to move after them, and the next thing you know you’ve hit the floor, your dog’s all over you thinking it's great fun. It doesn't seem fun to you! This tool that's supposed to help you is utterly frustrating.
Although unharmed, the embarrassment is enough!
Solution: This can simply be put down to having the right information; know what length is good to use. In this case, bigger isn't always better. Selecting the right length line is imperative to the quality of your training. This can vary from individual to individual, where you choose to walk, what your dog’s behaviour is like out and about, and how big your dog is.
Along with this, knowing how to handle a Longline is your best defence against getting in a muddle with them.
So, those were the five most common dangers of a Longline. You can see that there are many ways to injure yourself and others!
However, we obviously feel Longlines are a wonderful bit of kit to have, and are absolutely essential for training recall. The key to using them safely is getting the correct training and information.
Firstly, what length of Longline do you need? Do you require a handle or not? This is gonna largely depend where you walk, whether you want to let your dog trail the line, the size of your dog, and so on. At Houndagrips we have filled in a lot of that information for you, and you can see with each different length what they are ideal for.
Training is essential and can pretty much prevent any of the injuries listed above. Believe it or not, it can be good to start practising without your dog! By learning to use this simple yet tricky bit of equipment, you can make your walk more enjoyable, keep yourself safe, keep your dog safe, and your dog can have more freedom.