What is a Biothane Long Line?
A long line can be an amazing tool for dogs and their owners. A long line is simply a long leash, typically between about 10 and 30 feet long, that attaches to your dog’s harness or collar. Long lines can be used in a variety of settings where you want to give your dog more freedom of movement than a standard leash, while ensuring your dog’s safety, giving you peace of mind, and/or helping you work on training goals.
High Tail Hikes makes custom biothane long lines. Biothane is a patented material that is amazing for working with dogs (it is also the material of choice for many equestrians) - it is lightweight, strong, durable, waterproof, odor proof, antimicrobial, easy to clean, quick drying, and feels soft and supple in the hand. Biothane has a touch of “give” to it, unlike nylon, and does not get wet, heavy, gross, and stinky when dragged along the ground like webbing, rope, or leather. To clean your biothane, just wipe it down or dunk in soapy water, rinse, and air dry.
In this article, we outline four common uses for long lines and make some recommendations for what type of long line will work best for you.
*Please note that long lines are NOT the same as retractable leashes, which we do not recommend. Retractable leashes can cause serious injury to both dogs and owners.
What are Long Lines Used For?
1. Decompression Walks
The term “decompression walk” was coined by trainer Sarah Stremming on her podcast Cog-Dog Radio. Though it’s a simple concept, a daily decompression walk can be truly life changing for your dog, especially if they are anxious or fearful. A decompression walk is simply a walk, usually in a quiet, low-traffic area (ideally a green space like a park or a trail), where your dog can go where they want, do what they want, and sniff to their heart’s content, with no pressure or expectations from you.
It seems straightforward, but dogs who live alongside us in our modern, busy lives have very little opportunity to simply “be” and to explore the world through their senses and at their own pace. This is where the long line comes in handy. You can simply hold the long line with lots of slack, or allow it to drag on the ground, as your dog sniffs and explores. The line is there as a safety back up. Learn more about decompression walks here.2. Off Leash Hikes
If you’re planning to hike off leash with your dog, a reliable recall is essential - and long lines are an incredible tool for working on recall with your dog. Check out our blog article on the basics of teaching recall for some extra tips.
If your dog’s recall is not 100% reliable, or you’re in a setting where there are potential safety concerns and you want to be able to collect your dog quickly, you can simply have your dog drag their long line during the hike (preferably attached to a back clip harness). That way, you can pick up or step on the line if needed, even if your dog is 15 or 20 feet away.
We use long lines all the time during our off leash group hikes, not just when working on recall, but when working on polite greetings, passing other people and dogs, and engaging with us when there are distractions on the trail. A long line can give both you and your dog more freedom when you’re out on the trail, without sacrificing safety or good trail manners.
3. Training and Socialization
Long lines can be helpful when working on a variety of training and socialization goals. Aside from recall training, long lines can be helpful to use with station or mat training, teaching the “stay” cue, loose leash walking, and working with reactive or fearful dogs, to name a few. Long lines are also used in dog sports like tracking and nose work, and for training scent detection and other working dogs.
Long lines are also an excellent tool for working with puppies on appropriate play and social skills. During backyard puppy play dates or puppy socials, a long line can help you interrupt or redirect play if needed, reinforce recall and check ins, and teach your puppy to take frequent breaks. In our group hike service, we work with a lot of puppies and young dogs, and every new dog drags a long line for the first several weeks (sometimes months) of hikes. During the hike, we can hold the line or let it drag on the ground within our reach, and puppies can still wrestle, chase, tug, and sniff freely, even if their recall is not yet reliable. We can then pick up the line as needed depending on what circumstances arise. Over time, thanks to the long line, puppies learn to stay with the group, take frequent play breaks, and come running happily when called!4. Out in the World - Travel, Camping, Picnics, Etc.
I never leave home for a day trip, weekend away, or road trip with my dog without packing a long line. They come in handy all the time - think a spontaneous stop at a park, a local beach, a scenic viewpoint, or a dog-friendly cafe. If you’re doing any camping or backpacking, a long line will help to give your dog the freedom to explore, either in camp or on the trail, without worrying that they’ll wander off.
Remember that new environments can be stressful for your dog, and even a well trained dog may get confused or “spook” at a sudden and novel environmental stimulus - so if I’m traveling and we’re out in the world, my dog wears a leash or a long line. While traveling, an early morning decompression walk is also a great idea to help calm your dog’s nervous system and orient them to their new environment.
A couple more important notes:
Long lines are not intended, and should not be used, as tie outs. They should also not be worn while your dog is unsupervised. While our biothane long lines are incredibly durable, they are not chew proof. If you are in a circumstance where you must use a tie out for safety reasons, please use one expressly made for that purpose, such as a cable.
And always, please obey local leash laws.
What type of long line should I get?
High Tail Hikes offers long lines in three widths - ⅜” for dogs 5-30 pounds, ½” for dogs 30 to 70 pounds, and ¾” for dogs over 70 pounds (recommended weight ranges are approximate). We offer our long lines in 10, 15, 20 and 30 foot lengths - or we can custom make a line for you in any length up to 100 feet. We typically recommend a 15 to 20 foot line for training, play dates, or off leash hikes, and a 30 foot line for puppies learning recall or for any dog who is nervous, fearful, or anxious and needs the extra length to ensure safety.
We offer the option of a handle or no handle for any line 10 feet or over. Most dog owners opt for a handle, but some people prefer their long line without a handle so that it doesn’t snag on rocks, branches or roots if your dog is romping off trail. We use a solid brass bolt snap as standard hardware, but can substitute with a solid brass scissor snap by request. If you have any other questions about choosing a long line, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.