By Eric Gillaspy CPDT-KA
Stress can be very common in dogs. There are lots of reasons for a dog to feel stress. They may be over stimulated, under stimulated, fearful, bored, or some of their needs like exercise and activity aren’t being fulfilled. Sometimes, when dogs feel too much stress and don’t have a way to relieve that stress, displacement activity occurs.
“Displacement activity” is defined in “Dog Language” by Roger Abrantes as all activity performed to change the motivation in a given situation. In some cases this can lead to some destructive or unhealthy behaviors.
Us humans have many of ways to relieve stress. We have exercise, activities, social interactions, hobbies and countless other ways to relieve the stress of our everyday life. Dog’s don’t have all those ways to relieve stress.
One easy way to help relieve that stress is to exercise your dog mentally and physically with a flirt pole. Mentally and physically satisfied dogs exhibit much fewer behavioral problems. I have two American Pit Bull Terriers, Allegra and AlleyGator, and a Boxer named Lulu, and all of them use a Flirtpole.
A Flirtpole is pretty simple and looks like an overgrown cat toy. I use an 8 foot long piece of PVC with a rope on the end and a toy on the end of the rope. Dogs have a prey drive that instinctively makes them want to chase things and flirtpoles tap into that drive.
My two very fit American Pit Bull Terriers get so tired they don’t move for about 20 minutes. It’s a great game to play and an interaction that I control, much like tug of war without the tug. When the dogs catch it, I cue them to drop it and only then will the game continue. I am rewarding them with the ability to continue playing and believe me, they want to keep playing. I have been using Flirtpoles and making them for my clients to use for almost 10 years.
When you Flirtpole your dog, I suggest going around in a circle and keeping it close to the ground. Encourage your dog to chase it and let them catch it every once in a while, just to keep it fun.
Exercise is vital to a dogs health and fulfilling your dog’s needs only makes you a great canine partner and friend. I recently found out that Dr. Ian Dunbar, the founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, has discovered the Flirtpole and fully endorsed them. A prototype was introduced and sold at the 2012 and 2013 APDT conference and was “the hit” of the conference. It was called “the Best 5 Minute Workout Your Dog Can Get” in the magazine “The APDT Chronicle.”
So, go Flirtpole with your dog. The sky is the limit. Just have fun and exercise your dog. That is what having a relationship with your dog is all about.