Monday, April 10, 2023

Learning on a Longline

With the Longline Workshop coming up this weekend, I wanted to take a moment to share some important information about longlines and why we as dog owners need to become more skilled at using them successfully.

Picture of Azul wearing a dual clip harness and 12 ft longline and Finnegan wearing a collar and 10 ft line, both sniffing a very interesting spot along the side of a quiet road.

In case you are new to Yooper Paws of Love and/or the idea of using a longline to walk your dog, here are a few previous blogs that may find especially helpful before attending the workshop this weekend. 

First and foremost is making sure that your dog has the right gear to walk safely. Longlines come in many lengths from 15 ft to 50 ft. Personally, I make my own so I can make the length match the environment. For the purposes of this workshop, we will be looking at using a 15-20ft longline. Check out this post on Taking a Sniff-a-bout to learn more about choosing the correct gear and environments to practice with your longline.

It's also important to understand WHY we all should be taking a longline based sniff-a-bout with our dogs, daily if possible but at least a few times a week. Generally dogs walk at a much faster pace then us so it's unnatural for a dog to walk right beside their human for long distances. Longlines allow dogs to cover more ground, often moving side to side while sniffing which can greatly reduce the amount of time the dog is pulling to get from Point A to Point B. While we as humans, learn about our environment using our eyes and ears the most, our dogs learn about the environment using their nose first, then their ears. Check out this post on Environmental Processing to see how allow your dog to sniff can meet their needs and help to build their confidence in new environment. 

Understanding how scents impact your dog's ability to walk nicely on a leash and how you can use their love of scents to improve leash skills. Check out this post for more on Scents & Loose Leash Walking 

What the majority of my clients struggle with is how their dog acts when they see another person or dog while out on a walk. The dog might struggle with feeling unsafe or might want to greet the newcomer so badly that they loose control of themselves. Both are extreme emotions that often lead to barking, lunging, and pulling on the leash. This is the main focus of our Longline Workshop this weekend, to teach owners the basic skills they need for managing the leash around distractions before facing it a real life situation. Check out this blog, Introducing New Dogs Slowly to see a bit about the set up we will be using in Private Sessions and Mini-Group Sessions to help owners and dogs become more confident and/or less over-excited when seeing new dogs or people.

What to expect at the Longline Workshop

The Longline Workshop

This is going to be 2 hours of fun! You can sign up for a 15 minute longline management session, then you will be pointed in a direction towards your private practice space. There you can practice your skills and receive additional support from a Canine Coach if a challenge presents itself.

Sessions will take place April 15th from 1-3pm. All borrowed gear should be returned by 4pm when the supervised Longline Walks will end.

Sign up for your 15 minute management session here!

Your dog will need to be wearing a well fitting harness for this workshop. If they are prone to pulling, a dual clip attachment will help. If you need to borrow a harness or longline, please let us know in advance and we will do our best to match you with equipment that will work for you. Using a collar or head halter solo without a harness can lead to increased injury and should not be used with a longline any longer than 8-10ft.

(Absolutely no aversive collars are allowed at any Yooper Paws activities!)

15 Minute Training Sessions

We will start out by showing you some simple leash handling skills that show you the best way to control your longline without hurting either yourself or your dog. It's best to have 2 hands on your longline at all times, however we know that is not realistic. We therefore teach you how to decide which hand is going to be for strength and stopping power and which hand is going to be for taking up slack, letting out the line as needed, and sending gentle feedback down the line to your dog.

Faith & Joshua demonstrate basic longline skills with Echo.

Once the leash is comfortable in your hands, we will walk with you around our "safe" light distraction area to help you practice your skills with the longline and teach your dog how to respond to your body movements and changes. We will also go over a few different ways to reinforce your dog for making great choices such as returning to you instead of pulling toward a distraction or checking in with you when they feel safe. There are several low key games you can play with your dog to help them focus on either you or the environment your in more then focusing on the distraction. We will teach you a few of these games to help.

Then after your mini-training session, we will point you to an area for you to practice more skills. We will have 3 locations to choose from depending on your comfort level with the longline and your dog's comfort level around other dogs. The easy level will be a simple out and back walk by yourself in an area without other dogs. The middle level area will be a spot where you can see other dogs at a distance but keep a great enough distance that both dogs can remain calm. And the highest level area will be where you can easily see other dogs and follow the leader on a specific path, gradually reducing the distance between dogs. Dogs will get a turn to be the leader and the follower if there are enough people who choose the highest level. Obviously 15 minutes is not enough time to teach you all the skills you need to safely walk your dog around distractions if your dog has a previous history of struggling. The goal is not to create the perfectly skilled leash walking team in 15 minutes, but to lay the groundwork for leash skills that will improve your teamwork and make your walks more enjoyable for you and your dog!

Sign up for your 15 minute management session here! And if there isn't any time slots available contact us at yooperpaws@gmail.com to schedule your time.

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