How To... Use A House Line
A house line is a lead with a clip but without a handle that is about 2.5 metres long. It can be used to prevent bad behaviour, to stop unwanted behaviour fast, and to help you teach your dog good manners.
When to use
Attach the house line to your dog’s collar (this collar should be an ordinary flat collar and not a slip or choke collar) and let it drop onto the floor and trail along the ground. Put the houseline on before exciting events or whenever your dog will need to learn good habits, such as before visitors arrive, or children start playing.
Use the house line to prevent unwanted behaviours such as:
- Jumping up
- Pestering other dogs in the family
- Chasing children
- Play biting
- Excessive barking
- Toileting indoors
- Chewing household items
- Running off with ‘stolen’ items
- Climbing onto the furniture or your bed
- Run out through an open door onto the street
Stopping the chase-lung-grab-avoidance cycle
Using the house line will prevent your dog learning to avoid you as you lunge forward to remove him from something he was enjoying. It also prevents you getting bitten if he resents or is worried about being grabbed by the collar. Preventing the chase-lunge-grab-avoidance cycle is important since you want your dog to trust you and want to be near you. Using the house line enables you to calmly move your dog away from whatever he was doing and bring him closer to you. It puts you quietly and confidently back in control.
Prevent, prevent, prevent
Preventing unwanted behaviour is always more effective than stopping it once it has started because your dog will not get a chance to practice unwanted behaviour or find out how much fun it can be to be 'naughty'. Prevention does require you to think ahead and predict what your dog might do next.
Always try to get to your dog before he makes a mistake. The house line buys you time to enable you to do this more often. If your dog is about to do the ‘wrong thing’, pick up or step on the house line to restrain him. Distract him from what he wanted to do by calling him, encourage him to show the correct behaviour instead and then praise and reward him well for getting it right.
Stop unwanted behaviour fast
If you are not quite quick enough to prevent an action, a house line will provide you with a quick and efficient means of stopping it instead. If your dog begins an unwanted behaviour, use the house line to remove him from the situation quickly, before he learns to enjoy doing it and it becomes a bad habit.
Guide your dog into good habits
Once you have used the line to move your dog away from temptation, distract and refocus attention on to you by calling him, and then encourage the behaviour you want instead. Praising and rewarding this good behaviour will help your dog learn how to behave well next time. (Failure to do this part may mean your dog will need to continue to wear a house line forever!)
Do not leave a house line on when you are not there to supervise, especially on active dogs or young puppies as they can accidently hang themselves by their collars if you do. Remove the house line (and the collar) before you leave your dog alone to prevent him getting tangled, hung up or chewing it to pieces.
Even if the house line is made of soft material, it can cause nasty burns on skin if it is pulled across it fast so be careful to make sure this doesn’t happen. Be very careful when using the house line around children or people who are frail, who don’t see very well, or who are unsteady on their feet, as it may cause them to trip and fall
Need a house line?
House lines can be purchased from Puppy School.