When someone first suggested I tried training Dad on a Long Line I had my doubts. Let’s face it, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and at his age he sometimes struggles to put one foot in front of the other without falling over let alone learning new tricks. Would he be able to differentiate between walking to heel on a normal lead and walking on the Long Line where he had an extra 12 feet of freedom? Would he understand the difference? Would he still walk properly to heel on his normal lead or would he feel he still had another 10 feet of lead to go and start pulling?
I needn’t have worried. Dad took to the Long Line like a Fox Terrier to a fox hole. He seemed instinctively to know the difference between his normal lead and the Long Line, and enjoyed his freedom when it was offered but still walked perfectly to heel in town. I was impressed!
My other main concern with using a Long Line to train Dad was the tiny matter of control. Would I have less control of him on the Long Line than when he was close to me on his normal lead?
Dad’s a bit of a ladies man. Well, that’s what he likes to think anyway. (The ladies seem to feel differently, I have to say). One whiff of a lady and he’s off. I know the signs off by heart. He pricks his ears and stops in his tracks. He sticks his nose high in the air. He cocks his head to one side or the other and without further warning he’s off like a rat up a drainpipe. I don’t know how he does it. I don’t hear or smell a thing and yet Dad’s heightened senses can detect a female two blocks away on the other side of the dual carriageway through a thunderstorm.
In town, I use a Canny Collar so he can’t pull if what’s left of his tiny brain goes into hormone-induced senile overdrive at the slightest scent of a member of the opposite sex. But obviously on the Long Line it’s different. He’s already got a head start on me. But the thing with the Long Line is that I have two free paws with which to hold the line, and that makes him easier rather than more difficult to control. Since I only use the Long Line in the countryside anyway, any forward momentum Dad does manage to generate can be further arrested with a well-timed heel firmly stamped into the generally soft ground. It works a treat.
And if all else fails, if push really does come to shove, if any last remaining hope truly seems lost and I teeter perilously on the very brink of disaster, as a very, very last resort – I pray for a soft landing!