Guide to Flirt Pole Exercise for Dogs

What is a Flirt Pole

Dog playing with Flirt PoleA flirt pole sometimes called a flirt stick, is a dog toy and piece of exercise equipment that entices your dog to chase a moving lure. It is like a giant version of a cat tickler. A flirt pole consists of a handle or long stick, a rope (usually a bungee rope with stretch in it, with a lure or toy tied to the end.

What is the purpose of a Flirt Pole

A flirt pole has many uses. It is a fun toy to entice your dog into a game and is also an excellent way to exercise and tire a dog out quickly. A short game of ten minutes will tire a dog just as much as a much longer walk. It is one of the best exercises for a dog. For more ways to exercise a dog see here.

A session with a Flirt Pole will not only give your dog a great cardio workout but is an excellent muscle strengthening and conditioning exercise. It is important to give your dog a warm-up first to prevent injury. This can be a short walk or play to increase the heart rate and get the muscles warmed up.

A Flirt Pole is also an excellent training tool. It can be used to teach new and very useful behaviors and commands, such as stay, wait, leave, and a reliable recall. In addition, it can teach a dog impulse and self-control.

If you don’t have a flirt pole for your dog they are available here on Amazon US, UK, Can.

Flirt Pole

Benefits of Flirt Pole Exercise for Dogs

Using a Flirt Pole with your dog has numerous benefits including

  • allows your dog to engage their natural chase instinct while you maintain control of the toy.
  • an excellent exercise to tire a dog in a short time. Ideal for a high-energy dog or if you have limited time.
  • provides good muscle conditioning and strengthening exercise. The rapid movement and change of direction work the core and the whole body
  • engaging your dog in a game like this helps to build your bond and teaches them to focus on you.
  • a flirt pole is a useful training tool to teach your dog self-control and commands including leave, release, wait, stay. etc
  • is mentally stimulating for your dog catering to their natural chase and prey instinct and figuring out the movement of the lure.
  • improves your dog’s coordination.
  • requires minimal effort from you allowing you to remain in one spot while your dog goes hard.
  • allows your dog to be involved in a chase while remaining close to you.
  • a great training and conditioning tool for certain competitions such as lure-coursing and Schutzhund.
  • can train calmness into a dog. Using a flirt pole as a controlled game it teaches the dog’s brain to go to high arousal and come back down.

How to train a dog with a Flirt Pole

Before beginning with the flirt pole ensure your dog is warmed up to prevent injury. Take them for a walk or other activity to increase their heart rate and prepare their muscles for the intense activity. When you are finished, do the same to allow them to warm down.

Start with your dog in a sit or down position. Move the lure around in a circle along the ground to engage your dog. Once your dog catches the lure have them release it. Don’t turn it into a tug of war. If they won’t release the lure just put the flirt pole on the ground. This lets them know that the game won’t continue until they have released. Reward your dog and start again.

This video gives a good demonstration of using a flirt pole.

Does a Flirt Pole increase prey drive

Many people are concerned that a flirt pole will encourage chase behavior in their high prey drive dog. Prey drive is a natural instinctive behavior in dogs. You can’t completely train an instinctive behavior out of a dog, but you can redirect the behavior.

A flirt pole will help to teach them the needed impulse control and rules and boundaries. It will also give them an outlet for this natural drive. You have control over the flirt pole which you don’t have over a cat or squirrel. You can build up to a strong leave it, down-stay with prey distraction, and chasing only on a release cue.

At what age can you use a Flirt Pole

The physical and exercise capacity of a puppy is different from a fully grown adult dog. A puppy’s body is developing and growing and their growth plates are still open. High impact or rapid twisting can cause injury.

The age a puppy’s growth plates are fully healed varies from breed to breed. For most puppies, it is not until a least 12 months of age. I would recommend not using a flirt pole until after that age. You can introduce them to a flirt pole when they are an older puppy, but the game needs to be very controlled and not involve rapid movement and direction changes.  For more on puppy exercise see here.

Even with an adult dog, you should not use a flirt pole with any dog with joint issues and it is best to use it on a soft even surface such as grass. A flirt pole is also fantastic to use when swimming your dog. See swimming exercise for dogs to learn more. If you have any concerns, consult your vet for clearance before using a flirt pole.

Flirt Pole vs Spring Pole

spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs that love a good game of tug of war. Providing a spring pole for your dog is a great muscle-building and conditioning exercise.

The main difference between a spring pole and a flirt pole is that you are involved with the flirt pole. This makes a flirt pole better as a training tool and also burns energy faster. A spring pole will also tire a dog though not as much as a flirt pole. The main advantage of a spring pole over a flirt pole is your dog can use it without you and is more of a muscle-building exercise.

If you don’t have a flirt pole for your dog they are available here on Amazon US, UK, Can.

Flirt Pole

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