I originally found, and fell in love with, biothane long lines for working on recall training and off leash skills for our group walk dogs. Over the years, I’ve found so many other great uses for them!
If you’re not familiar with a long line, it’s simply a long leash, usually between 10 and 30 feet, that clips to your dog’s harness. It can be made with or without a loop handle - some people prefer them without a handle so they don’t get caught on roots, rocks, or other obstacles when out hiking. A long line without a handle is sometimes called a “drag line.”
We make our long lines from biothane, a patented material made in the US that is waterproof, antimicrobial (mold + odor proof), lightweight, durable, strong, soft, easy to clean, and comes in tons of great colors. I like to keep one in my car and one by the door to grab as we’re headed out. I love that they are low maintenance, quick drying, and don’t get gross and stinky if I leave them one in my car after a muddy hike or a trip to the beach.
A long line can allow for greater freedom of movement and choice for your dog, while providing peace of mind and a safety backup for you. Here are 10 great uses for a long line - I’m sure there are lots more!
*A couple of quick notes: First, biothane long lines should never be used as tie outs, and a leash or long line should never be left on your dog while unattended. Besides this being a safety issue, biothane (like most leash materials) is not chew proof, and a determined chewer could damage or even chew all the way through a long line. Second, you know your dog best. Long line or not, be your dog's advocate and do not put them in situations that are beyond their comfort level. If your dog is not a café dog or a beach dog, that's 100% okay!
I use long lines all the time when hiking with dogs - especially if we are on a busy trail or in a new environment. Living in a dense urban area, our trail system is heavily impacted with hikers, dogs, cyclists, and small children, and we even run into things like dirt bikes, horses, golf carts, and goats (yep). With all of these unpredictable variables, long lines provide a critical added layer of security. Unless your dog’s recall is 100% bulletproof, a long line for hikes can be a great tool. Read our blog post with more tips for hiking with your dog here.
2. Decompression Walks and Neighborhood Walks
We love decompression walks or “sniffaris” - read more about them and the importance of letting your dog sniff here. In short, taking a decompression walk involves finding a quiet, open space, keeping a slack leash, and letting your dog sniff, walk, and explore at their own pace. It sounds so simple, but a daily sniff walk can be powerfully transformative, especially for anxious or fearful dogs.
I’ve become such a long line convert that I actually use a 10 foot line for most neighborhood walks with my pup. It allows for more freedom of movement and less leash tension, and it’s easy to wrap up the extra few feet when it’s warranted to have your dog stay closer.
3. Beaches, Lakes, and Rivers
I always think of the beach as a dog’s version of Disneyland - all the smells, sights, sounds, and textures, not to mention water! I like to clip a Small (⅜” width) 15 or 20 foot long line to my dog’s harness for beach trips. If you’re making a day of it at the beach, you can leave the line on while your dog lounges and you relax, read, or picnic. Just make sure to rinse your clasp in fresh water after a beach trip to prevent corrosion of the spring inside the clasp from the salt water. Lots of dog owners also like to use long lines as an added safety measure for river, lake, or boating trips.
Long lines (and high value treats) are a great tool to have for puppy classes, puppy socials, or backyard puppy play dates. They’re helpful for reinforcing recalls and check ins, interrupting play if needed, and working on engagement games and loose leash walking. Just don’t leave your dog unattended wearing a leash or long line or they may turn it into a necktie with their razor sharp teeth!
Long lines are an extremely helpful tool for working with dogs of all ages on off-leash skills like recall, but are also helpful for lots of other training activities like loose leash walking, U-turns, nose work/scent games, tracking, and more. They can also be helpful for parallel walks and managing graduated dog introductions without leash tension. Most force free trainers I know utilize long lines regularly in their training.
6. Road Trips and Travel
A long line comes in so handy while traveling - for decompression walks in new environments, potty/sniff and stretch breaks on long road trips, spontaneous beach trips and hikes, hanging out around the AirBnb property, or visiting a local cafe or park. As always, gauge your dog's comfort level in new environments and adjust your activities appropriately.
7. Camping and Backpacking
While we don’t recommend using a long line as a tie out, a long line can be a great tool for giving your dog freedom while keeping them safe and secure in camp (and under your supervision), or walking around the campsite and surrounding areas.
I believe that a long line is critical to use when backpacking, as there are so many external variables that can’t be predicted, and the unfamiliarity of the environment can also make your dog’s behavior less predictable. Keep your dog safe and keep wildlife and other trail users happy by using a long line.
8. Out and about - Picnics, Cafes, Parks, etc.
Even if you’re not on a hike or a dedicated sniff walk, a log line can come in handy if you’re out and about with your dog and you decide to meet your friends at a park for a picnic, or grab an outdoor beer or a coffee at a dog friendly establishment. Of course, even with a long line, you’re the best judge of whether your dog will be comfortable in this type of environment.
9. Hanging out at Home - Front Porch, Backyard, Gardening
If you have an unsecured front yard/patio/porch, a large property, or anything in between, a long line can be a great way to keep your dog outside with you and give them some freedom without compromising safety. Again - never use a biothane long line as a tie out - they should only be used while you are actively present and supervising.
10. Office or Shop Dog
If you’re one of the few of us who still work outside the home, you can use a long line to keep your dog secure in your workspace. My dog Charlie often accompanies me to my studio, and he is free to wander around my work area, but I can easily secure him if needed using the long line.
How else do you use your long line? Share in the comments! If you're interested in a long line, but aren't sure what size or length is best for you and your pup, read our blog post on that topic here, or feel free to contact us with any questions. Happy adventuring!