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When and How to Use a Long-Lead Leash for Dogs (and When Not to Use One) | Pupford

December 28th, 2023

Filed under Training

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As a pet parent, you have likely heard the ongoing debate between on and off-leash dogs in certain areas.

A tool that helps ease that debate is a long lead!  

A long lead is a tool in dog training that just about anyone can get behind. As a positive reinforcement dog trainer, I think every dog parent would benefit from owning a long lead. I never leave my house without one and keep one in my house and car at all times - just in case, ya know?

In this article, we will cover what a long lead is, the types of long leads, when and how to use a long lead, and how NOT to use a long lead. Let’s get started!

  1. What is a Long Lead?
  2. Types of Long-Lead Leashes
  3. When to Use a Long-Lead
  4. How to Use a Long-Lead
  5. When NOT to use a Long-Lead


30 ft long lead leash for dogs

A long-lead leash is a versatile training tool.

These leashes typically range from 15 to 50 feet in length, but you can also find ones as long as 100 feet long! They allow your pup to have increased freedom and the ability to explore while still remaining safe.

By using a long leash you can reduce the risks that come with letting your dog off-leash in unfamiliar areas.

In case you’re interested, learn more about the pros and cons of off-leash play here! 


  • Nylon Leads: These leads are durable and lightweight and are suitable for diverse environments and terrains.
  • Biothane Leads: While typically more expensive, biothane leashes are water-resistant and easy to clean. These are a great option for water-loving pups or if you live in a very rainy climate.
    Rope Leads: These are a sturdier option and are particularly useful for dogs who are known to chew on their leash.
  • Retractable Leads: While retractable leads offer the option of adjustable lengths, as a dog trainer I typically steer clear of this type of leash due to the potential safety risks, lack of dependability, and other options on the market.
retractible leash for dogs


Now that you know the different types of long leads, let’s talk about when to use them.

Training Cues

A long lead is an essential tool to use when you are training cues such as ‘Come’ or ‘Stay’ or working on cues such as ‘Sit’ and ‘Down’ from a distance. The length of the leash allows you to increase the distance from your dog while still ensuring they reliably perform the cue you asked.

You can learn more about how to use a long lead for training cues here! 

Mental Enrichment

dog on a long lead leash for more freedom to play

The long lead is the perfect tool for sniff walks, also known as sniffaris. The length of the leash allows your dog to walk at their own pace and stop to sniff as they please.

This provides mental enrichment and improves the overall quality of their walk.

Learn about the importance of sniffing (and other forms of mental enrichment) here! 

Behavior Modification

When working with dogs who are struggling with reactivity, anxiety, or aggression, the long lead provides a way for them to still run around, play, and explore in their favorite places if being off-leash is no longer an option for them.

If your dog is struggling with the above behaviors, we can help! Check out our Academy Plus for even more training resources.

Exploration in Unfamiliar Environments

If you are taking your dog to a new environment, their training may seem to decline - this is normal! Dogs do not generalize which means they need to practice what they have learned in new environments to reliably perform it.

For example, if you are going to a new hiking trail with all new smells and distractions, your dog may not perform their recall cue as reliably as they would in your neighborhood park.

The long lead allows you both to safely enjoy the new environment, without jeopardizing previous training.


dog on a long lead leash at the beach

1. Gradual Introduction

Before jumping right to a 100-foot-long lead, try a 30-foot-long lead first.

You want your dog to get used to how far they can run out without being jerked back.

There is also a learning curve for you as well, handling this much leash is very different than holding a regular leash and you may need some time to get used to managing that length of leash safely.

2. Safety Measures

Keep a vigilant eye on the surrounding area while using a long lead.

It is important to prevent the leash from getting tangled or stuck around obstacles to prevent accidents or injury.

Also be aware of people or other animals around you, if you are walking on a trail or in a park you will want to ensure that your dog does not block other people's path, but also that they don’t approach others who may not want to be greeted.

3. Reinforcement

One of my favorite ways to use a long-lead is to use it to teach a reliable recall.

A long-lead allows you to build a reinforcement history and increase distance without potentially jeopardizing your recall cue.

One of the most common mistakes I see when teaching recall is when pup parents call their dogs over and over again and the dog doesn’t respond.

A long lead resolves this issue because you can reel them in if they do not respond, this way you can show them what behavior you are looking for and set them up for success.

Do you want even more recall tips? Check out our Recall Mastery Course!  


dog with leash in his mouth

Now that we have covered all the ways you can use a long lead, let’s talk about when not to use a long lead.

  • High Traffic Areas: In bustling, high-traffic environments, opt for a standard leash to maintain control and avoid accidents to others, you, or your pup.
  • Addressing Behavioral Concerns: While a long-lead is a great tool for training, it will not solve your behavioral problems. If your dog is struggling with severe reactivity, using a long lead to take them around other dogs will not resolve the behavior. Instead, seek helo from a certified professional dog trainer.
  • Unsupervised Use: Never leave your dog unattended with a long lead or leash of any kind. The potential for entanglement or other safety risks is too high.

A long lead leash can enhance your training experience, give you peace of mind in unfamiliar environments, and give your dog more freedom to sniff, explore and just be a dog. Yet, with any tool, you want to make sure you are using it safely and properly. We hope that you try out a Pupford Long-Lead today to help you build a better relationship with your pup!


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