Tag Archives: Training

Training with a Long Line

Tilly on a long lineThe beginning of the line

Many years ago, we attended a number of workshops for reactive and aggressive dogs. Throughout the workshops, long lines were being used as training aids and at that time, they were hard to come by. We realised there was an unmet need, so began making those long lines and hence the name of our company, Training Lines.

We used climbing rope to make the original ones, and we are still using our prototypes today!

The use of a long line has been brought home to us again just recently because Tilly has been on restricted exercise following her elbow arthroscopy. We have also used the same long line in the not too distant past when Tracking with Toby.

Scent Work with Toby

In short, they are useful tools, training tools, and not to be confused with long leads or extending leads.

We prefer to use them with a harness rather than a collar and advise you should always, no matter what the weather, wear gloves. Rope burns are painful.

Why use a long line?

Well, although they could be used as a long lead, they take some management to prevent both yourself and your dog from becoming hopelessly entangled.

Managing a long line

It’s easy to get tangled up, especially when other dogs are around

They are useful for young dogs to give them a sense of freedom while still retaining that all-important control, or for teaching a recall. They are also essential in BAT (behaviour adjustment training) in reactive dogs and provide a physical connection to your dog as a back-up for your mental connection.

And of course, there are various ones for use in Scent Work or Tracking.

Our preference is no handle. A dog can get up a good turn of speed on a long line, and the last thing you want is a dislocated wrist. It can help to tie knots near the end so that you know when you are running out of rope.

Before buying a long line, you should decide first of all what you want to use it for and then how long you want it. As mentioned above, the lines can be very unwieldy if too long.

Although we no longer make them ourselves, they are now far easier to obtain and here is our pick of the ones available.

CLIX Puppy House Line

Puppy House Line

Puppy House Line

The Clix Puppy House Line is a lightweight lead that can be used in the house to interrupt a dog’s undesirable behaviours without the need for confrontation or misunderstanding. 

Preventing undesirable behaviour is always more effective than stopping it once it has started because your dog will not get a chance to find out how much fun it is to be ‘naughty’.  You do have to think ahead and predict what your dog might do next.

The house line helps you to get to your dog before he makes a mistake. If your dog is about to do something undesirable, pick up or step on the house line to restrain him.  Distract him from what he was about to do by calling him, encourage him to show the behaviour that you want instead and then praise and reward him for getting it right.

Can be used to stop jumping up, stealing, chewing, digging, chasing, play biting, pestering other dogs in the household, climbing onto furniture or running out through an open door.

It should never be left on an unattended dog.

Company of Animals Lightweight Recall Line

A lightweight recall line

Lightweight Recall Line

The Clix Lightweight Recall Training Line is ideal for puppies and young dogs as it is made from an ultra-light yet durable fabric. The recall line allows the dog to be seemingly free and yet remain under control, combining security with freedom. An essential tool for recall training and ideal for controlled socialisation of puppies and aggressive dogs.

The perfect training tool for outings in a public place and the soft padded webbing makes the recall line comfortable to hold.

Clix Recall Line

Recall Training line

Recall Training Line

As with the lightweight version, the Clix Recall Training Line allows the dog a feeling of freedom while ensuring that you have control. For teaching a reliable recall, the long line is an excellent proofing tool for testing your dog’s proficiency and doing it safely.

Two lengths are available (5m, 16 ft 8 inches, & 10m, 33 ft 4 inches).

Trixie Tracking Lines

Tracking Lines: Tracking Line with Ball (cord), Tracking Line (cord), Tracking Lead (webbing)

Tracking Lines

The Trixie Tracking Lines come in several different varieties and can be a powerful communication tool between the dog and handler. With proper use, the communication flows back and forth all the time during the track. A handler’s primary job is to keep the line from distracting the dog, keep it out of the dog’s way and do not let it get tangled. The correct tension on the line will keep it straight in the air from the dog’s harness to your hand.

Tracking leads can be used for scent work or as a long line for recall training. They come in various lengths and styles.

PVC Coated Tracking Lines

Tracking leash with a PVC coating or integrated shock absorber

The Trixie Easy Life Tracking Leashes are available with a PVC coating which is resilient and durable, and easy to wipe clean. Available in various lengths, they offer freedom of movement while training or walking, and are also ideal for tracking or searching.

You can even get one with an integrated shock absorber that helps to cushion any sudden pulling making it kinder on you and your dog.

Excellent for tracking, scent work and distance or recall training.

Lining yourself up for success

We hope that gives you an insight into why, if used correctly, a long line is such a valuable training aid and although we haven’t gone into detail on how best to use them, a lot of the products come with basic instructions which are well worth reading before getting started. Alternatively, it’s worth doing some research online before deciding which one is best for you and your dog.

The pup challenge

We experience the highs and lows of a new puppy

As the clock struck midnight on the New Year, instead of knocking back champers, we were wrapped up in bed with a Lemsip!  We had succumbed to the virus that seemed to be sweeping the nation and it made life with a lively puppy just that bit tougher.

Toby was, of course, adorable but on top of that he was hard work.  We have had many puppies in the past but as they grow, you quickly forget the bad bits!

Lack of sleep, they like to wake early, taking them outside (in bad weather) every half an hour, trying to stop them chewing, especially electric cables that you never noticed before and keeping those needle sharp teeth out of your flesh!  Not to mention the feeding four times a day!  It’s a full-time job and not for the faint hearted.

We are very lucky in that we work from home so we could be with him 24/7.  Heaven knows how people cope when they have to go out to work.

A dog crate was an essential piece of kit, especially for those much needed moments of respite and invaluable overnight.  Clicker training helped to calm him down and focus his mind for short periods, often leaving him needing a nap and us with some breathing space.  We tried out plenty of toys and he loved most of them, but not for long enough. His attention soon returned to chewing rugs, furniture or shoes, that someone had foolishly left lying around.

Two other problems we encountered were sheep poo, and Jack our Border Collie.  The field we walk them in has recently been vacated by our pregnant ewes and there was plenty to interest him.  We couldn’t get his nose off the ground and quickly taught him a “leave” command, which works about 30% of the time. Jack was a bigger challenge – whereas both Archie and Daisy have welcomed new pups before, this is Jack’s first one.  He didn’t react very well and although the 2 shepherds would tolerate Toby, Jack was very snappy.

We tried to work this through by taking them out to one of our large sheds and training them together.  Jack realised that being with Toby meant positive things rather than negative.

To a certain extent this has calmed the problem and Jack’s snapping seems to be much more ‘warning’ than intent. Toby does heed those messages when he isn’t hyper-excited, and more often than not, Jack prefers to move away rather than getting involved. We still have work to do, but we are happy with the progress so far.

Despite all of the above, Toby has been an absolute joy.  He is so bold, intelligent, quick to learn and entertaining and he’s certainly taught us a thing or two.  Last week he started his clicker class and we were very proud of him.  He behaved beautifully.  But we won’t be resting on our laurels, there is homework to be completed and we are well aware that once he gets comfortable in the new training environment, he may not be quite so polite and well mannered.

Pictured below are the items we found most useful for Toby:

Toby loves the Everlasting Treat Ball

The treat-filled Tuggy is a hit!

Toby with the Puller

Perfect for controlled walking

 

Jack seems distracted…

Jack seems distracted in a clicker training session

During an impromptu clicker training session with Jack in the field, teaching him to go around a pole in the ground, we noticed that he seemed to be a little bit distracted and kept wandering off unexpectedly.

Whilst it is true that he does have quite a short attention span, we were near a livestock pen at the time and at first we assumed that he was more interested in the livestock than us. In fact, the real reason was completely different.

This is what happens:

Please excuse the poor sound quality.

Jack likes working for treats but he really responds to praise and attention too, so we try to use a combination of both to keep him interested.

We noticed that he would only wander off after we verbally praised him and gave him a rub. At some point in the past, we have inadvertantly taught him that the praise and belly rub marks the end of the session. Rather than being distracted, he is simply heading home because he thinks it’s all over.

We may need to fade that behaviour if we intend work with him for more than 30 seconds at a time…

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Training your dog with a Target Stick

Teach your dog to target using a target stick or target wand. A fun training activity, but also a useful way to lead your dog without force.

Targeting or Touch Targeting is very simple – it is teaching your dog to touch something on command, such as your hand, a cup or maybe a ball, with either his nose (or paw).

How is it useful?

Fin is lured into a Down with the target stick

Targeting can be useful in a number of ways. For instance, sending your dog to his bed to ‘settle’, or training him to ring a bell to go outside are both forms of targeting where the bed and the bell are the targets.

Why use a target stick?

Almost anything can be used as a target, but the beauty of using a target stick is that you can move it around easily.  They usually have a target ball on the end which can attract your dog’s attention, they are easily portable, and they can be used to encourage your dog to follow. Some even have an integrated clicker.

Once he is comfortable touching the target ball, this behaviour can easily be transferred to other objects.  Floor standing target sticks are also ideal for distance work where your dog may need to work away from you (handy for dog agility/dog sports, but other situations too).

As soon as your dog is working with a target stick, it can be effective for leading his movement without force.  With your dog happy following the target, you can use it for many things – like encouraging a ‘down’ (right), leading him through the weave poles in agility, doing a twirl around you, or pushing objects on cue

Getting Started

Make sure you have your clicker, a quantity of small but high value treats in a treat pouch, your target stick, somewhere quiet with no distractions, and a dog that is hungry!

Your dog should already be familiar with the clicker (although the steps can be adapted to non-clicker training methods if you prefer).

Step 1

Start by doing a few simple tricks that your dog already knows to get him to focus on you.  Sits or downs perhaps, remembering to click and treat each time.

Once you have his attention, present the stick to your dog.  Be ready – out of curiosity he is bound to sniff the stick, and as soon as he does, or shows any interest, (anywhere on the stick, not just the end with the ball) click and treat.  Repeat the action and again click and treat each time he shows interest.

Try not to let your dog bite the target or stick

If your dog attempts to bite or grab the stick, try to discourage him without putting him off of the exercise.

Vary the stick’s position slightly in relation to your dog, and keep going until it is clear that he understands that if he sniffs or touches the stick (wherever it is) with his nose, he will receive the click and treat.

If your dog is really not interested, be patient and give him a chance to work out what you want him to do.  In some cases it helps to smear something smelly and tasty onto the target ball to help get your dog started.

Train in short bursts so that he doesn’t lose interest, taking regular breaks to do other things.  Only once your dog is touching the target stick 100% of the time, move on to the next step.

Step 2

So far you have said nothing when he touches, so now it’s time to add a verbal command, or ‘cue’.  Present the stick and just as his nose is making contact, say the word you want to use, like ‘touch’.  Don’t forget to click and treat. Do some repetitions and gradually introduce the word earlier and earlier until it is clear that the cue is making him act.

When your dog is 100% reliable, stop clicking for touches that are not done on command.

Step 3

Vary the position of the target stick

At this point you can start to move the target stick’s position a little more, still using the ‘touch’ cue.  Click and treat each time.  Most target sticks are telescopic so you can extend and get your dog to work further away from you.  You could also put the stick on the floor or on a piece of furniture.

Again make sure the behaviour is 100% solid before moving on.

Step 4

When your dog is reliably touching on command, you can start to shape the behaviour.

Your dog may only be touching the target ball already, but if not, it shouldn’t take too much encouragement to focus him on that rather than the whole stick. Just click and treat for nose touches on the ball itself, and nowhere else.  He’ll soon get the message.

Then, try moving the stick a little as your dog approaches, so that he follows it. As your dog understands what is needed, vary the distance and speed of movement.  Remember to click and treat the touch each time.

Before long, your dog should be touching the ball at the end of the stick on command wherever it is.

What next?

A floor standing target can encourage your dog to work away from you

If you have a free standing target stick you can begin to ask your dog to work away from you.  Start with the target close at first and use your ‘touch’ cue.  Click immediately and he should return to you for the treat (setting up the next go very nicely!).

Move the target to different positions relative to you and gradually increase the distance to it, repeating the command, and clicking and treating for each success.  If you have a hand held target stick, you could achieve the same thing by putting it on the ground where your dog can see it.

Dogs enjoy speed and excitement so it is good fun to turn this into a fast paced game.  Put the target down a few feet from you, give the touch cue, and when your dog touches the target, click and throw the treat out past it so that your dog has to run to get it.  On his way back to you, give the touch cue again, click and throw the treat again after a successful touch.

Remember…

If at any time your dog starts to get confused or frustrated, either go back and repeat the previous step, or switch to something simple that he can do easily.  This will make the training fun for him and keep him interested.

Take your time. Some dogs take longer than others, and it is important not to push forward too quickly.

Always put the target stick away at the end of a training session so that your dog is not touching it when you are not looking and therefore not receiving a click and treat.

Have fun!