Mine is pretty simple, but important nonetheless – the long line
Why? Mainly because of my job. Since working as a self employed dog walker, my long line has become my most valued tool. When I take on any new clients they have to give written permission for their dog to be walked off the lead (for insurance purposes). However, I never let a new dog off lead immediately, no matter how good of a recall they have according to their owner. I ALWAYS use a long line as we build our relationship.
The main reason is for the dogs safety and well-being. The dogs I walk vary in what they want from a walk; some love to run, some retrieve and others just sniff and plod along, but I love giving them the freedom and space to do so. Exploring the area and getting enough mental and physical stimulation is what a walk is all about. But, the dog is new to me, just as I am new to him, and there is a possibility he won’t have a reliable recall on our first walk together. Taking care of someone elses dog is a huge responsibility, especially in a public place. The long line eases owners minds, and mine too.
Most of my clients contact me when they’ve just adopted their dog, and so sometimes there is little recall already in place. So I whip out my long line, and get started on some recalls, working alongside what the owner is practicing too. As with all kinds of training, it also allows me to build a bond with the dog. One of the dogs I walk is quite independent on walks, and using the long line meant he had to spend more time with me (to his disappointment!), but we really bonded and now he’s fab off lead :)
I admit, it’s not a perfect tool. It gets tangled, and knotted, and trails in the mud. It’s also not great to use when a dog is interacting with others, as it can get caught on a few paws. However, if used correctly, with a harness and a good technique, it helps me alot!