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Long Lines - what type of rope?

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Hi everyone,

I've searched the forums, but this question doesn't seem to have been asked yet. I'm thinking of using a long line when starting my year old pup one of these days, but the last rope I used broke when she hit the end at speed. So now I'm curious, those of you who use \ have used long lines what have you used? Any specific type of rope? I'm thinking of getting a lunge line for a horse. Trident (big manufacturer of horse equipment here in RSA). I have a halter and lead set of this specific type and it's really nice. Not straight nylon like the normal ones, and affordable.

My other option is cotton rope from the co-op, but it's a really thick rope and quite heavy.

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I use a 1/4 braided poly rope with the highest weight rating I can find. Before I take the dog to stock I make certain they are real good about stopping and not pulling on my leash. I actually make leashes out of the same rope, 10-12 foot long and easy to stuff into my pocket at any point

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Make sure the rope has very little stretch; you want your tugs to be transferred down the line not softened because the rope stretched. I prefer lines that are light in weight to minimize any effects of the dog having to drag dead weight.

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Never cotton. It soaks up water and is easier to break. Look for nylon. I like really thin rope because I use a very long line (ideally 100 yards) and weight can become a major issue. You want something that will not get wet and will glide through the grass.

 

You need gloves that are strong and well padded for grabbing any sort of line, but especially if it's thinner so you don't slice right through your palm.

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I use a long-line to refresh/sharpen-up my dog's downs and flanks. I train with various lengths up to 15 yards or so. I didn't see Liz P's post (above), so there may be a little repetition here, but also some new stuff B)

 

Liz P and others train with lines approaching 100 yds. Managing extreme lengths IMHO would take a special skill that a handler would probably need to gradually learn. I'd want to see one used in qualified hands, before attempting that kind of length. Liz, are you into video? I'd really like to see examples, so that I can try it.

 

I use a light/strong nylon line, maybe one-quarter inch in diameter. It has little stretch, and enough bulk that a person can grasp without too much danger of rope burn. Still good idea with any line/rope to wear gloves and take care of your hands.

 

When a dog is allowed to drag a line, I believe trainers should be sure that there is nothing that it will likely catch-on, consequently abruptly stopping the dog for no good training reason and perhaps injuring it -- e.g. farm equipment, brush piles, structures, etc.

I started my young dog driving/fetching without use of a long-line, in order to maintain power, flow and instinct. IMO it depends to a large extent on your dog's personality. Mine works upright with medium eye and power. I felt, based on qualified advice, that a line at a young age might make her tentative/hesitant. OTOH, it may be (I'm not in a position to say) that an extremely assertive/keen/powerful dog will benefit from starting on a long-line. After I started her fetching well, and driving on-her-own in open field (albeit serpentine at times), only then did the long line come into play mainly to sharpen her downs, and open her drive flanks. Who knows (it's always a balancing act), I may have given-up some pace and width on flanks, by not incorporating a line earlier? But my border collie, now older, appears to relish challenges, such as sheep wedged tightly in corners, unloading stock trailers, and driving stroppy sheep.

 

You can buy canine long-lines made of strap material similar to horse lunge lines, but smaller and lighter. They work well, yet the length is limited.

 

If you have a moment, please get back to the forum as to how the training is going. -- Best wishes, TEC

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I have varying lengths depending on the level of the dog and where I am working the dog. A dog that is going out further distances I will have a 100-150' cord on, in the smaller pen only 25 feet. If there are trees and other obstacles I will also use a shorter cord, maybe only 50'

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If you can get it, tracking lines are smooth, less likely to kink or catch on things, not as abrasive as rope or nylon webbing, very light in weight, easy to rinse or wipe clean, and can be gotten in variable lengths.

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I use parachute cord--lightweight and quite strong. I want the dog to feel as close to possible as if it's not dragging anything. It's very small diameter, so I have to be careful with it, but honestly if I'm using one on an exuberant youngster, I'll just put on gloves. A similar product would be any small, light line used for climbing. I don't use anything super long either. If it's just for starting a pup, I want it to be light enough to drag easily and long enough that I can step on it (and I'll put knots in it for that purpose) if I need to put brakes on or reel a youngster in. I'd probably use the same type of line for a dog I was training, say, to drive, because at that point the dog should be far enough along in its training not to be ripping the line through your hands anyway.

 

J.

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Depends on your training method. I have them driving on a line on day one, so you need it to enforce stops and flanks.

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Go to palominelines.com . The flat tracking lines are terrific. Don't tangle, don't rope burn (much), lightweight, good stuff. Get the 3/8 inch one. I use a 20 foot for starting pups and find a 33 foot one really useful with a dog a lithe further along and out on the big pasture.

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Go to palominelines.com . The flat tracking lines are terrific. Don't tangle, don't rope burn (much), lightweight, good stuff. Get the 3/8 inch one. I use a 20 foot for starting pups and find a 33 foot one really useful with a dog a lithe further along and out on the big pasture.

 

This is the sort of material that I was talking about. The narrower width was what was recommended to me. Really nice feel and good handling.

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Depends on your training method. I have them driving on a line on day one, so you need it to enforce stops and flanks.

 

I would have thought that wouldn't have needed explaining. When I first take a pup to sheep, we aren't training at all, in the sense that I am not putting training pressure on a youngster. So I am NOT training a pup to drive on those first few exposures to sheep. If you're doing that, then obviously you have different needs than I do.

 

As others have said, if one plans to train with a long line as Bobby Dalziel does, then one really needs to be experienced enough to use the method properly, and since the OP hasn't stated her training experience, I'm not assuming she knows how to implement Bobby's methods.

 

J.

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Well, I don't think it's that obvious. As you said, we don't know how much experience the OP has.

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No offense intended.. really. I mean that. No offense intended... but just asking the question suggests you shouldn't be using one without help from a professional trainer that has a lot of experience with it. Keeping in mind that our dogs learn from the release of pressure, not the application of pressure, if a long line is to be used it should be appropriately and with skill.

 

Unless you are just intending a drag line to slow your dog a bit and make it easier to catch... but then some would argue if one needs to do that the youngster might be better in a round pen till it learns what "that will do" means.

 

dave imas

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Thanks everyone. I unfortunately don't have a lot of experience in training. Meg turned a year old on the seventh and she will be my first. Unfortunately I do not have access to a trainer. I live in the middle of nowhere, South Africa and the only people who really does sheepdog clinics and can help you train a young dog live hundreds of kilometers from me. So I'm afraid help will be Faansie Basson's Laying the foundation, Andy Nickless' First steps in Border Collie Sheepdog training. And some books. Vergil Holland, Nij Vyas, Derek Scrimgeor and Stockdog Savvy by the Taylors. I'm mainly looking to use the long line to be able to enforce things like "that'll do", to catch her if necessary. At the moment she has had exposure to goats once of twice, just to see what she'll do. We have unfortunately for the moment had to go back to basic discipline again since with the teenage years the ears have gone AWOL. Long line also for reinforcing the recall. She used to have a pretty good recall... The round pens I have is one horse round pen, 64 foot, ideal for the job, but too out of the way to be of any real use. Then I have a small pen inside the sheep kraal, but I suspect it might be a bit flimsy to hold the goats. Will have to see how that goes, it is also a bit small, might work if the dog stays on the outside, but it's going to be too small very quickly if I throw the dog in there too. So I will probably have to settle for blocking of the corners of the kraal they sleep in and using it for training.

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I think your circumstance, around the world and the US, is more common than many people realize. Sounds like you have gathered a nice library of books and CDs. You have the resource of this forum and other social media, including YouTube. Vergil Holland's book is a step by step "how to.." manual, and a good place to survey the big picture. Supplement his book with your other materials.

 

I believe it can be done. Border Collies are sponges for skills and knowledge. I wish you the best, and keep this Board apprised. It's difficult to instruct over the internet, but sometimes advice can get you over an obstacle, or point you in the direction of a resource that can help.

 

What size and material is your accessible round-pen? Keep in touch. -- Kind regards, TEC

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I have a wonderful 30-foot leash from Lupine. You should see Dixie dance whenever I pick that one from the pile!

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TEC, Thanks Yeah I guess my circumstance isn't exactly unique. The accessible pen is just a small portable one made up of sections, but it's only knee high and only about three or four meters across. The only thing that counts in it's favor is it's actually located inside the goats' sleeping kraal, so getting some or all of them in there won't be a big problem. A bit on the small size, but it'll just have to do for a start. I'm definitely planning on using Vergil's book as my main source. I think I finally found what I've been looking for in long lines. A company who makes a lot of Shutzhund stuff have some lovely textile 10m tracking lines. I just hope they have them in RSA too, the ones I saw was on their European catalog. Gloves I learned the hard way is a must. Got a nasty rope burn when pup took off at speed and pulled the rope through my hands.

http://www.bende-bg.com/en/shop/6-mm-textil-leash-with-brass-hook/ this is the link to the lines I am talking about.

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TEC, Thanks Yeah I guess my circumstance isn't exactly unique. The accessible pen is just a small portable one made up of sections, but it's only knee high and only about three or four meters across. The only thing that counts in it's favor is it's actually located inside the goats' sleeping kraal, so getting some or all of them in there won't be a big problem. A bit on the small size, but it'll just have to do for a start...

Please understand, it is not my wish to down-play the challenges of training a stockdog primarily from books and CDs. You have to do what is reasonable and works for you. I believe it is do-able for a stock/dog savvy handler, and wish you the very best. I admire your spirit.

 

Four meters diameter is about 14 feet across. That's pretty small for starting on sheep. I'm not familiar with goats. 40-50 foot diameter is more standard, but there's no magic number that I am aware of. Will the goats stay in a small pen, with knee-high sides, once your dog is introduced? Could you add more sections to expand it? T-posts that are pounded into the ground and welded-wire cattle panels and/or woven field fence can be efficiently put up. Something to think about. For starting a dog, fencing that has some flexibility and "give" is superior to solid bar/pipe panels .

 

If locked-in to your small round-pen for now, I would put in only 2-3 goats, and work on getting your young dog to come to balance. In other words, the dog maintains his side of the stock, respecting that your side (opposite his) is off-limits for now. Before introducing him, get a good "down" away from stock and a recall. Be ready for much of your preparatory training to vaporize on initial stock introduction. Work in little stints of less than five minutes, and take numerous breaks.

 

I wouldn't know how to use a line to start a dog, particularly in a rather small round pen. Perhaps other members can help with that. I may have seen at least one top handler/trainer utilize a line, both dog and trainer outside a stock-filled pen. As I recall, he used it to enforce downs near the pen, prior to working inside. I personally like to see how a dog is going to flank naturally around the sheep, and then hopefully begin to mold some semblance of balance and separation. A line could easily get in the way and tangled, unless used with skill, but others may have suggestions on that. You will learn when to drop it, and let it drag.

 

The line in the link looks good. Try to follow a respected trainer's curriculum using it. -- Best wishes, TEC

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TEC, thanks for everything. I finally found a suitable line. I really don't know at the moment whether the goats will stay in the small pen, will have to see. For the most part they seem pretty calm with the few interactions they've had with the dogs so it shouldn't be a big problem. I will probably start with just a few goats in the pen, pup outside and then move on from there. I will probably leave the line off while working with the pen and only start using it when we move outside the pen into a bigger enclosure. In the meantime it will come in handy for reinforcing recall and other obedience. Having just turned a year old, ears have gone AWOL temporarily all the same. Just double checked my book and Vergil Holland actually uses a long line starting pups so will definitely be using his book as my main source.

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You are welcome. You are going to do fine. I like the way you collected training materials and sought suggestions before getting started. Your pup will influence how you progress, and dictate any modifications to your training plan that may need to be incorporated.

 

Keep this forum advised how things go. There are members who compete frequently and do well at high levels. -- Best wishes, TEC

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