Short answer is no they do not need to be connected or looped. But it is a good idea to loop them, just in case the lever gets bumped which would cause a deadhead situation. Some do not like the loop (worried about hooking something with it) and opt to install a hinged lever block, to keep the lever in the center when not needed. My 224-78 came with a quick connect on one port of the PTO and a hose on the other port with a QC on the free end of the hose. The tiller is set up the same. So the hose from the PTO connects to the tiller and the hose on the tiller connects to the PTO. Aside from the safety issue this leaves a loop on the PTO and tiller, having them connected in the loop also keeps the QC's clean.