Highwayman’s Hitch

A great way to work through many exercises is using a long line. One of the things I often then do, especially because I have two dogs, is use the line to hold a dog in place, tying them to a tree or bench. Out in the training field it’s easy to leave tethers all set up and ready to be used. I’ve sunk earth anchors under the turf for quick and easy places to tie dogs. Out in the woods though it’s better to have an easy knot that can quickly be untied and for that I use the Highwayman’s Hitch. It’s design means that you can pull the free end and easily undo the knot without having to untangle yourself from the tree. It’s not the stongest of knots, but holds Scout pretty effectively and he’s yet to discover the way to untie it. Horses apparently can be quick to learn how to pull on the free end, so much for having a clever collie.

This is how you tie this hitch. Make a loop in the line and pass it around the tree. Through the loop pull another loop made with the dog’s end of the line, and then through that pull a loop with the free end. Adjust it all slightly, pulling the knot tight up to the tree. Although it holds under most conditions it seems to come loose with repetitive tugging, gradually undoing the loops. For that reason I only use it for temporary, non-critical and supervised tethers. Because I have a flat line I try to make sure the releasing loop is flat too, that way it doesn’t jam when you pull it free.

Sometimes the challenge of training a dog is simply about making it easy to practise. The easier it is to practise the better the result. The highwayman’s hitch makes it really easy to practise. Being able to tie the dog up without fiddling around with extra equipment, clipping and unclipping leads, is a great help in teaching lots of the exercises, and having a quick release makes for a seamless transition to movement. Just a pull on the free end and the dog is able to run around on the line.

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