Flirt Poles are awesome!
They are a fantastic way to exercise your dog! And not just in that “screw it, just get em tired” kind of way. But, in a way that can help establish rules, boundaries, and bonding.
It’s just like tug. Literally. It’s just an extension of your arm. You can make them cover more ground, and have exciting near misses in between your actual tugging bouts.
If they have reliable “outs” you can just play tug with the pole like you’re fishing for dogs! If their “outs” aren’t solid yet, you can just hand over hand down to the tug, and immobilize it to encourage the “out”. I’ve recently become a fan of the -P method of corrections!
In this way it’s just a higher energy draining version of tug.
But I’ve used it with a few dogs that didn’t have any desire to play tug. It’s been a great bridge to get to tug as a new activity.
One of them just wasn’t that excited about about the “prey” I was holding. I just couldn’t move it enough, or in a fashion to trigger her interest. But, with a flirt pole, I was able to draw her out. Literally, like fishing. I would throw it out like casting. She would sort of ignore it. I would make very small movements. After a minute or two she FINALLY got a little interested. When she bothered to give it a sniff, I made it jump and run away from her. It took about two of those for her to go absolutely apeshit chasing it. When I let her get it, I gently tugged “fishing pole” style. I am not going to start “outing” her for a few more sessions. I don’t want to discourage her drive in any way. If I can get it away from her, it means she’s not really gripping it. Which means her drive isn’t high enough. Once she can grip that thing and I can’t get it back from the pole I will transition into teaching the “out” and possibly switching to straight tug.
On another dog I was working, they had trust issues. They had a TON of prey drive, but….. If you tried to engage them in tug, they would just let you have it. They didn’t want to “challenge” you for this thing that you obviously wanted. Sometimes, you can just tug less vigorously to help build their confidence. But in this case it was bad enough that I had to use a flirt pole so that the toy didn’t seem “attached” to me. They could chase, and chase. When they caught it, I would tug “fishing pole” style, and praise a lot. Then once they are into that, when tugging, I will slide down the line and tug holding the line. I’ll get closer and closer until, I can actually tug while holding it. Once you can use the pole to engage rounds of hands on tug play, you may be able to just switch to straight tug.
Anyway, flirt poles are bad ass! Use them to build trust, or drive for tug work, Or just use them to wear you little one down. Cause, even though I am a HUGE proponent of obedience work, if a dog is tired, it’s hard for them to be bad!
Or call us…. We’ll bring ours!