Recall training 101: How to use a long line training lead

dog recall training with a long line training lead

If you have a dog who doesn’t come back when called then a long line training lead is your best friend when you start your recall training. 

The idea behind a long line is that it enables your dog to have the freedom to move around and explore, but it stops them from actually running off and not listening to you when you call them back!

Using a long line keeps your dog safe from harm and your heart rate at a steady level, while your dog masters the skill of coming back when called! 

The best leash length for recall training

A long line is a lead that is between 5m and 25m long. Personally, I recommend going with a 5-10m long line as it’s easier to handle than a 25m lead which will likely end up tying you up in knots!

You want a long line lead which is strong, has a good grip and doesn’t tangle easily. You also want it to be easy to clean and quick to dry so you can use it in all weathers, and even at the beach!

I highly recommend the Raptorgrip long lines which tick all these boxes and are super easy to handle. 

Buy your longline here. 

How to use a long line safely

  • Always use a harness with your dog when using a long line. Do not attach the line to their collar, as sudden jolts can cause neck injuries. 
  • Choose your length and material wisely. Too long and you have no control of your dog, opt for a 5/10m long lines. Material that has no grip will not be comfortable to hold and may injure your hands, I prefer a long line with a rubber grip.
  • Don’t wrap your long line around your hand. This could result in broken fingers or worse, a broken wrist. Instead, loop the excess length in the palm of your hand and close your fingers around it. This allows you to easily let each loop go the further your dog moves away from you and loop the excess back up when they get closer.
  • Be careful when trying to grab the line with your hands if your dog is running. You may suffer cuts & burns. Stay safe, drop it and use your feet to stand on it instead.
  • Avoid allowing your dog to play with other dogs while on their longline, as tangles around dog’s necks, legs or body can lead to serious injuries. Your longline is for use during your recall training! 
  • If you are in busy areas with dogs/people/trees shorten your line to a normal lead’s length. This will stop your dog causing an accident by getting the line tangled around anyone or anything!
  • Try to keep your line as slack as possible so your dog doesn’t feel tension through it. You can do this by allowing the dog more line. A tight line means your dog doesn’t have to look for you as they know where you are by the tension on the line, which doesn’t help you achieve a good recall once the long line is removed.

Top tips for training recall with a long line

  • Play your recall games as normal. The line is just a safety net to stop your dog getting it wrong. 
  • Remember not to use the line to pull them towards you if your dog is not listening. Instead, loop up the excess line & walk up to your dog. 
  • The idea is to eventually stop using the long line so don’t make it part of your recall cue. If you’re relying on tugging on the lead to get your dog’s attention, then when you remove the lead, you’ll be back to where you started! 
  • Once you can recall your dog from other dogs/smells/birds and you can’t remember the last time you had to walk up to your dog then you’re ready to drop the line and have it trail behind your dog. 
  • You will need to stand on the long line if they don’t respond to their recall cue. Repeat the same steps now the line is trailing. 
  • When you can’t remember the last time you had to stand on the line and when they always come back straight away regardless of distractions. Then you are ready to lose the line completely.

This can take anywhere from 2 – 12wks. Don’t rush it! Better to lay amazing foundations & have a super solid recall than rush it and be a bit shaky.

Learn how to teach your dog a rapid recall here.

recall training classes with long line training lead

Get your free rapid recall training guide. 

Free Recall training page

Recall Training Classes

We run recall dog training classes at Musselburgh Lagoons. This 4 week recall training course will take you from full of nerves to roaring with confidence that your dog will ace their recall every single time you call! 

Learn more about our recall classes here. 


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Becky Milne East Coast Dog Training with Border Terrier

Hi, I’m Becky

I’m an ethical and positive dog trainer who wants to help you create a fantastic relationship with your dog.

I offer fun and effective dog training that makes you WANT to train.