Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

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Shalista
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Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by Shalista » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:21 pm

Just checking in on this cause I'm a bit concerned.

Bax has had a flirt pole for years that i made out of some rope tied to a broom handle with a stuffed toy on the end. he LOVES it. beyond any other game or activity he loves his flirt pole. Sadly we don't do it much mostly because I think I'm doing it wrong.

We go out to a fenced in enclosure and i let him off lead. Then i swing the pole around and make the critter run across the grass and he chases. he LOVES to chase so it's great.

the problem is when he catches it. I'm not good enough or fast enough for him to not catch it and frankly i think it would be cruel to not let him get it sometimes. Once he gets it he doesn't let go and just chews on it for forever.

He knows "drop it" but not very well and A) i dont think even liverwurst could make him drop this toy and B) i'm uncomfortable mixing cues/training with fun play time.

i used to try to pull it out to keep doing more chase so we'd end up just doing tug but he has a death grip on that critter and i dont really like playing tug with him since i'm so much bigger and ive heard that pulling up is bad for dogs necks? and he really DOESNT let it go if you pull.

so my most recent strategy to continue chase is to watch carefully until he opens his mouth mid chew and then whisk the toy away. but then i kind of feel like that's cruel to?

Are flirt poles themselves inherently cruel? I feel like im being such a tease... but he enjoys it so much.

tldr, how do you get the toy out of your dogs mouth when he catches it? Are flirt poles cruel? am i using my flirt pole correctly?
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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JudyN
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by JudyN » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:44 pm

Shalista wrote:I think I'm doing it wrong.
Is there a wrong way to have fun? What do you actually want to achieve? Do you want to teach a reliable leave, or do you want to entertain him?

What is on the end of the flirt pole? You could possibly attach something that is still fin to chase but less interesting to chew, or you could come up with something that can be detatched easily and is designed for chewing, so it's a 'reward' after the fun of the chase. This might be easier if, once he's got a grip on it, he's OK with you putting your hand on it to detatch it from the flirt pole.

Some toys are better off without instruction leaflets :wink:

I'm not sure if you can damage necks by playing tug, seeing the way some dogs shake their prey. I always give in when playing tug with Jasper though as he sure can damage my shoulder!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Shalista
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by Shalista » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:09 pm

I just want us to have fun to be honest but chewing is a one person/dog activity and chasing is a two person/dog activity. if he catches it with 10 seconds then he only gets 10 seconds of chase if i dont have some means of retrieving the toy :? he has plenty of other toys to chew at home that aren't attached to a flirt pole

and yeah his trainer said that tugging back and forth was better than tugging up and down cause tugging up could damage his neck?
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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JudyN
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by JudyN » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:12 pm

What would happen if you had two flirt poles and enticed him with the second while he was chewing the first?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Shalista
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by Shalista » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:15 pm

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo :shock: i like this thought :wink:
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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Erica
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by Erica » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:29 pm

I just wanted to comment on not wanting to mix training and playtime...

honestly, playtime is the best time to train! A lot of dogs consider training a game, anyways - Delta certainly does. A lot of scent detection dogs and other highly-trained dogs are trained with games as the reward, so they may come to think of the entire task as a game. Training shouldn't be boring and serious - it should be fun and enjoyable for the both of you, like a game :)

If you can't do a swap for food with the flirt pole toy, I would second Judy's second-flirt-pole idea! Once he's used to dropping one flirt pole to chase the other, start adding the cue before you move the second toy (and he presumably drops the first toy), so he learns "drop it" means "if you let go of that, something awesome will happen."

Dogs are built to endure unsuccessful hunts. Delta's never caught a squirrel, but he still chases them when I let him! Think of all the dogs who are obsessed with chasing small fuzzies, without ever having caught one. So I think a lot of the fun comes with trying. I agree that it would be mean to never let him catch it, but most of the fun is in the chasing so don't feel bad about stopping his chewing time.
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

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Nettle
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Re: Am I doing Flirt Poles wrong?

Post by Nettle » Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:15 am

Great advice from the others :D

Just also remember he is a terrier, and hanging on to something he's caught and shaking the living daylights out of it is in the programming. That's how they kill rats etc. without getting bitten. He isn't going to play tug or catch like a different type of dog.

If two flirt poles is hard on your co-ordination, keep another toy on a long line in your pocket, and while he's shaking the first one, draw it jerkily through the grass and pretend you are really interested in it. He'll soon come to investigate.

Dog trainers always wear garments with deep pockets, or else permanently carry a game bag.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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