Line Training for Dogs


How it’s done



By Monika Gutmann








For Dino and Hudson




Copyright of original edition © 2008 Cadmos Verlag GmbH, Schwarzenbek, Germany

Copyright of this edition © 2009 Cadmos Books, Great Britain

Translation: Alexandra Cox

Cover design and layout OF THE PRINTEDITION: Ravenstein + Partner, Verden

Cover all other photos (unless indicated): JBTierfoto

Editorial: Dorothee Dahl and Christopher Long

E-Book conversion: Print Web Software GmbH


All rights reserved: No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized

in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.


ISBN 978-3-86127-961-7


eISBN 978-0-85788-664-4



What is long-line training?

Just 10 metres away from success

The most important thing first: how do dogs learn?

Classical conditioning: the bell rings, the dog salivates

Operant conditioning: dogs that can run backwards

Swiftness is the name of the game

Dogs learn in a specific context and are bad at generalising

Act variably

Thoughts about punishment

Rewards – your dog’s wages

Why reward?

What is the difference between rewarding and enticing?

When’s the time to reward?

What’s the reward?

Building up a command, using the ‘sit’ as an example

Learning cues

What do you need to remember?

Consolidating the exercise

The long line and other accessories for training


Long line

For puppies and small dogs

For bigger young dogs and adult dogs

Why is an extendable lead no good?

Treat pouch

Preparatory training

Orientation training

Training schedule for orientation exercises

Levels of distraction – duration of training

Everyday longline training

Walks with puppies and young dogs

Walks with older dogs

Building up recall

Learning cues

Extending waiting time

Summary: recall training structure

Slow down or stop – maintaining the radius

Learning cues

Structured training

Long-line training in a group – open field

Chair circle

Long-line training with aggression problems

Transforming feelings

Orientation training for aggressive dogs

Levels of distraction – duration of training

Potential problems and solutions

Increasing distraction/reducing distance

Walking in parallel

Approaching head-on

Important notes

Accompanying training

The name game

Impulse control – learning how to wait

Exercise at the door

Waiting until the dog is called

When can I stop using the long line?

Discontinuing the long line

Training schedule summary – discontinuing the long line

Clicker training


Various options

Problems that may crop up

Various exercises

Food machine

Looking on command

And finally – thank you!

Useful addresses





Tension-free walks together at last: a 10-metre long line means so much more quality of life for both human and dog.


Do you have a dog that won’t come back to you unless he’s on a lead or simply does as he pleases when he’s off the lead, completely ignoring you out of doors and reckoning that everything else is much more exciting than his human?


Dogs like these commonly spend their lives either on a two-metre lead that’s much too short or on an extending lead, unable to enjoy the privilege of running free in meadows and fields because they haven’t learned to take notice of their humans and come back on call or whistle. The advice that’s often given to anyone owning a dog like this is to give long-line training a try. Many dog-owners, though, fail in the first week. Not many people can explain to them how long-line training works. Just hooking a 10-metre lead to the dog is not the answer. The frustration increases if handling the long lead is tricky: you keep getting tangled up or get terrible friction blisters on your hands or legs, or land on your bottom for the hundredth time. Exasperated, you finally give up and discard the long line and stop letting the dog run free altogether, except in the garden.



What is long-line training?

With well-structured and carefully thought-through long-line training, patience and single-mindedness, you can re-create a happy bond between you and your dog. Your dog will pay better attention to you, will be responsive again and, most important of all, will be sure to come back when called.



Just 10 metres away from success

Long-line training is a safe way to get a dog to learn almost without mistakes. The emphasis here is on ‘a way’. There are many ways to work with a dog – it is not our intention here to propagate the one and only true ‘training method’. However, because it makes stress-free walks possible, the 10-metre lead brings added quality of life for many dogs and their humans. Long-line training enhances a human’s ability to keep a close eye on his or her dog.

This type of training, though, is not for people who expect to see a dog problem that has crept its way in and taken hold over years ‘magicked away’ after two weeks. Learning is a continuous process – and even things that are unpleasant for the owner are going to get learned. The do-it-yourself approach you’ve used so far means that your dog has learned that it’s more worth his while to keep his nose stuck in the mouse-hole than to listen for your call. In this book, training is always described in terms of positive reinforcement, because this is the most effective and enduring technique for changing and shaping behaviour. You will read more about learning behaviour in dogs in the chapter, ‘The most important thing first: how do dogs learn?’.


For people, it is a matter of course to learn everyday things, such as eating with a knife and fork, right from when we’re small. Many years of daily repetition enable us to hone this abil-ity. It wouldn’t occur to anyone to beat this self-evident social skill into an inquisitive toddler – it is practised and refined day by day by playing. The magic word is learning by succeeding. Whatever is learned needs to be repeated many times and improved so that our ‘muscle memory’ works properly – and commonly, it won’t work the way we’d like it to if we lack the talent, the genetic predisposition or the motivation. You may be asking yourself what genetic predispositions have to do with learning. Well, they have lots to do with it! If we were all the same, we would all have the same abilities. There’d be no children with learning difficulties, for example, there’d be nobody who wasn’t exactly as good at playing chess as at sprinting 100 metres, and we’d all have nothing to fear from hereditary diseases. Unfortunately, our genes dictate otherwise; some people, for example, have ‘slow’ muscles and no matter how much effort they put into training, they will never be good sprinters. However, if these people were to give long-distance running a try, they would be the successful ones. No two people are alike – and that applies to your dog, too. There are dogs that learn quickly, while others need time and some appear never to make any progress at all.

You cannot expect something from your dog that you have not taught him and that does not suit his natural abilities. A herding dog, for example, will ponder before deciding that a given auditory signal makes sense. True to his breed, he’ll come trotting up to you. A border collie, by contrast, will spin round on his hind legs and come hurtling up to you. It is essential to remember these things when you’re training your dog.

In my view, a behaviour has been ‘learned’ when a dog performs an action while I’m standing in front of him in the unlikeliest poses. The world could be coming to an end around him, but I expect a sit from him and he obeys.

This book enables you to follow a step-by-step training plan that provides you with important information about the basic laws of learning and a short introduction to clicker training.


So off we go! Train – don’t complain!