The Thrill of the Chase
Flirt Poles Basics
Does your dog have energy to burn? Do they love the thrill of the chase? It could be time to introduce them to a flirt pole.
Intrigued? These toys tend to be less known to dog owners than the usual balls and plushes, but they come with numerous benefits that benefit a dog’s physical and mental health. They also offer a great exercise solution for dogs who get reactive on walks. In fact, just 10 minutes of flirt pole play can provide as much exercise as a 30-minute walk! And, not only do they burn off excess energy, but they can help dogs learn impulse control, too!
Flirt Pole Basics
If you’ve ever seen a cat “wand toy” with a stick and long string attached, you’ve met the smaller cousin of the flirt pole. For dogs, these toys are larger and much sturdier so they can hold up to the chase – and the catch!
Flirt poles include three primary components:
- A long, sturdy handle
- A length of strong rope
- A toy
You can either make your own with supplies you have around the house or purchase pre-made versions online, like Squishy Face Studio’s Flirt Pole or the Lure Wand from Outward Hounds.
Flirt Pole Ground Rules
Lots of dogs love playing with flirt poles because it fulfills their natural instinct to chase. Before getting started, make sure to establish a few ground rules.
First off, dogs shouldn’t grab the flirt pole or toy until you give the signal. We recommend putting your dog in a sit and asking them to wait until you give a command, like “Take it!” or “Chase!” If your dog is too excited to wait, try hiding the pole or keeping the toy out of reach until you can give the signal.
Let Them Succeed!
It’s tempting to keep your dog running after the toy indefinitely, but don’t forget to let them catch it from time to time. The amount of time can vary based on your dog, but the chase shouldn’t last more than a few minutes between catches. Remember, if they can’t enjoy the thrill of the catch, they could become frustrated and lose interest in the game altogether.
Teach Them to Drop
Playing with the flirt pole shouldn’t become a wrestling match. Instead, after your dog successfully catches the toy and plays with it for a bit, encourage them to release it so you can play again. It’s helpful to teach a signal, like “Give” or “Drop it.” If this is a new command for your dog, have treats on hand so you can offer a trade when they comply.
It’s easy for dogs to get excited and focused while playing with a flirt toy, so be ready to stop immediately if they seem overly aroused. If they grab your clothes or body at any time, even if it seems to be an accident, stop playing immediately and try again at a later time.
The Best Places to Play
Playing with a flirt pole is a very physical activity for a dog. However, depending on the size and activity level of your dog, you can use a flirt pole almost anywhere. We’ve even brought ours indoors on cold winter days!
To create a positive experience for your dog, you should avoid slippery or harsh surfaces that could cause injury. Instead, let them enjoy the freedom of the chase on carpeting, grass, sand, or soft snow. It’s also important to keep their physical health in mind. Playing with flirt poles encourages dogs to run, jump, and change directions on a dime. If your dog is a puppy, senior, or has a medical condition, talk to your vet before introducing them to this new game.
And, if your dog seems wary of the flirt pole in the beginning, slow things down and introduce them to the new toy. In these cases, it helps to put the pole on the ground and move it around before holding it in the air. Still too much? Try getting your dog to play with the toy or switch the toy you’re using as a lure.