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A Flirt Pole Is Not Dog Fighting Equipment

A Flirt Pole Is Not Dog Fighting Equipment

If you haven’t checked out my author page, let me tell you this: I live in Georgia. And not only do I live in Georgia, I live in southern Georgia, where it does not get merely hot in the summertime — it gets downright boiling. That can make it difficult to exercise your dog while staying cool.

In my neighborhood, you have a few options when it comes to exercising your dogs. You can let them roam (no leash law here), walk them around the neighborhood (asphalt roads), or you can do exercises in your backyard. When it’s only May and the temperature is in the triple digits, you can bet I’m not walking the dogs through the neighborhood. Last year, Axle scared me to death on a walk when he overheated and spent an hour laying in the shade to cool off.

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I’m also definitely not letting my dogs roam, although many people in my neighborhood choose to. That leaves me with the backyard … but what can we do? Axle doesn’t fetch, Remi half-fetches, and they both need exercise that is fun and encourages bonding. Enter the flirt pole.

A flirt pole is really a giant cat toy for dogs. They’re easy and inexpensive to make, and man, do they work! I finally made one after numerous people suggested it and Jessica Dolce wrote this cute blog post about them. I was super excited about making my first one, and happy to explain to the cashier in my local farm store why I needed PVC pipe, rope, a dog toy, and pretty duct tape. While she thought it was super cool, some customers didn’t think so. In fact, they decided I must be a dog fighter, especially because the cashier greeted me with, “Hey, how’s that Pit Bull?” I’m sure it didn’t help their image of me when I mentioned I’d really love to have a doggy treadmill.

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Apparently, the customers asked the cashier whether she had ever met my dog, and did he have scars. Actually, Axle does have scars. He has a few. They don’t know his background, or mine, but somehow they did the following math: Flirt pole = dog fighting tool to increase aggression. Flirt pole + Pit Bull = dog fighter. They weren’t the only ones who believed this. I’ve spent a lot of time directing people toward BAD RAP’s video about flirt poles, as well as explaining what a wonderful tool it is.

We have other things for the dogs to play with outside, but the flirt pole is in a class of its own. Basically, you play with a dog with the flirt pole like you would a cat. They chase it and try to catch the toy on the end. When they do catch it, you have them drop the toy, leave it and come to you, where they should be told to sit or lie down. You can reward them with a click, a treat, a “good boy/girl,” or a simple scratch behind the ears. Then it’s off to chase the flirt pole again! This engages you in your dog’s play and doubles as an obedience challenge. You are teaching your dog to listen to you in a moment of high arousal — chasing and catching. After only a few times with the flirt pole, Axle would voluntarily drop the toy and come sit at my feet.

More from Dogster Magazine: 6 Tips for Running with Your Dog as Exercise

I am disappointed that some people automatically jump to a negative conclusion over such a wonderful and useful tool like the flirt pole. Tools are what we make them. Haven’t you read about Wallace the Pit Bull? They used a spring pole and weight pulling as part of his training. These things are also often associated with dog fighters, but they shouldn’t have to carry that stigma. Doggy treadmills, flirt poles, spring poles, and weight pulling are actually fantastic tools to exercise and train your dog with.

Axle loves the flirt pole. Whenever he sees me bring it out, his whole body begins to wag with his tail! Remi is still wary of it, but she loves to snatch the toy when it’s on the ground, then quickly drop it and come sit at my feet for a treat. We’re loving the flirt pole, and I’m quick to tell anyone who will listen how awesome it is, particularly for these hot summer months. I’m sure I’ll still run into a few people who will think I’m a dog fighter or something else crazy like that, but I hope I can help them see just how great a tool a flirt pole can be when used in the right way.

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Safety

This post was written by Meghan Lodge, regular contributor to Dogster Magazine.

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At Dogster, we believe life is always more meaningful with a dog. Get a daily dose of news, views and cuteness over at Dogster Magazine.

61 comments

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4:10AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Thank you Dogster, for Sharing this!

4:19AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

8:39AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

creative solution

1:16PM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

I enjoyed the video of the dogs playing with the flirt pole. It's a great way for them to get exercise without going for a walk. It's actually better than a walk. Thanks.

2:13AM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

Wrong dog fighter DO use Doggy treadmills, flirt poles, and spring pole for dog fighting http://www.workingpitbull.com/springpole.htm

BUT they are also used by responsible pet owners. Most pet owners including myself have squeaky toys at the end of their flirt poles instead of the furs of dead animals. They also don't force their dogs to run until they can't run anymore. Major difference between using something to exercise your dog in a fun way and conditioning dogs to fight.

If more people used these items FOR GOOD THINGS we wouldn't even be having this discussion. What we need is to stop dog fighting, when the dog fighting stops there won't BE ANY DOG FIGHTERS to misuse these items to condition their dogs to fight.

10:26AM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

As an open minded person who loves all animals I commend you on your great attitude in the face of ignorance. I had never heard of 'flirt poles' which is why I decided to click on this article, and I agree - it sounds like a fantastic tool/toy. Sadly the media has spent so many years vilifying pits and other breeds for the crimes committed by their human keepers (bad training, fighting etc - none of which the dogs would have participated in willingly!), so too many people don't do any research for themselves and assume the worst. I am currently learning to live with a rescue Rottie, and while as a first dog (I've always had cats until now) it was a huge leap, but she is a sweetheart and we are patient with each other. Her back hips won't allow for the sort of exercise the flirt pole provides, but my next rescue will surely enjoy it ;-)

2:48PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

No. It's good, even though you're temporarily misjudged, that these people do care about the dogs, ;)

3:10AM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

noted

7:37PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

I will be making one of these toys very soon. thank you for passing this idea on.

3:27PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

Everyone should help Pits redeem their good reputation. Even tho I can't have a dog, I recognize these wonderful dogs need good exercise and especially training. They can be great pets!

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