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A professional dog trainer shares how she uses this interactive teaser toy to train and tire out dogs of all energy levels

© Provided by INSIDER   Ren Volpe/INSIDER

By Ren Volpe, INSIDER

  • More than a glorified cat toy,  is an interactive dog toy that is fun for both you and your dog.
  • Flirt poles provide indoor or outdoor play and exercise for dogs of all sizes.
  • This exciting dog toy can be used as a training tool or simply to tire out an energetic dog in a short amount of time.

"Flirt poles" have long been popular with dog trainers, but with many of us stuck at home, this interactive dog toy is a good solution for owners looking to keep their dogs occupied and entertained.

Outward Hound's Tail Teaser Dog Flirt Pole is a sturdier canine version of a string cat toy. Its design is simple: a long stick with a dog toy attached to the end of a rope. The pole is used to mentally and physically challenge your dog, and it can be used as a training tool, too. It's more engaging and less repetitive than a game of tennis ball fetch — I have as much fun playing with it as my dog does.


How to play

The means your dog will tire out before your arm gets sore. Ten minutes of play wears out most dogs.

Playing with the requires some space. In a pinch, a large room will suffice, but it's best to play on a carpeted or grassy surface. Hardwood or linoleum floors may cause your dog to slip and hurt themselves.

Flirt poles are especially helpful for dogs who want to chase everything. This toy encourages your dog to safely engage in their instinctual prey drive. All domesticated dogs have prey drive, which is the desire to chase moving objects.

As with any new toy, some dogs instantly figure out the game, but shy or fearful dogs may need a slower introduction. Drag the stuffed toy along the ground so it looks like a small animal and in no time your dog will stalk and chase it. More reluctant dogs can be coaxed to engage with the toy if you rub it with a stinky dog treat.

Stalking, chasing, leaping, and catching the moving toy is all part of the game. I always allow my dog to catch the toy frequently enough so he doesn't become frustrated or bored.

© Ren Volpe/INSIDER   Ren Volpe/INSIDER


How to use it as a training aid

The main purpose of this toy is fun and exercise, but as a professional dog trainer, I often recommend it for dogs that need help learning impulse control. Impulsivity in dogs looks like snatching food, darting out open doors, jumping on people, or chasing anything that moves. Teaching impulse control means teaching your dog self-control and focus — crucial life skills for family dogs.

After your dog knows some basic cues like "wait", "sit", "down", and "drop," start practicing these during flirt pole play to teach your dog to switch quickly from a state of high-arousal to calm. Ask for a sit or a down and then use play to reward them for waiting. This teaches your dog that patience leads to more fun.

Exhausted puppy parents will also benefit from the . One of my clients had a tween who began avoiding the family puppy that played too rough and would grab at her clothes. They needed help with training their new dog how to play appropriately, but in the meantime, they also didn't want their child to be afraid to engage with their shark-puppy. Supervised flirt pole play saved the child-dog relationship.


What makes it stand out

Sure, you can DIY your own flirt pole, but the materials alone will cost more than the price of . The price, durability, and availability of this toy make it an easy choice.

My dogs love it so much that I must store it out of sight and high on a shelf. If I accidentally leave it out, my dog will destroy it in a matter of minutes. But at $14, I've never hesitated to purchase a replacement (yes, I've gone through three of them).

© Outward Hound   Outward Hound


The cons

There is no one toy that is right for every dog. Even with coaxing, some dogs will just think this is a boring game. To each their own. Not every dog likes fetch or tug, either.

If you have a very excitable dog, you'll first have to teach some basic skills like "drop it" and "wait" to avoid whipping them into a frenzy they can't come down from. And as with any high-impact exercise, running, leaping, and twisting can lead to injury if your dog jumps and lands awkwardly. If your dog is recovering from injuries, this is not a toy for them.

The squeak toy is not sturdy enough for large dogs to play tug, and while it's fairly durable, serious chewers need constant supervision. It comes with only one extra fuzzy squeak toy, and unfortunately, Outward Hound does not sell replacement toys. You can easily tie any toy to the end of the cord if your dog eviscerates the stuffy. Also, while the toy is fairly sturdy, don't expect it to last forever.


The bottom line

A good majority of dogs will enjoy the right off the bat and some dogs will need to be taught how to have fun with it. There's no guarantee it will become your dog's favorite toy, but for the price, it's worth a try.

A flirt pole requires human interaction and supervision, so it won't keep your dog busy when you're working on your computer or when guests come over (try a stuffed Kong for that). But this dog toy is great for training and fun for both human and dog.

Pros: Most dogs enjoy flirt poles, great for burning off your dog's extra energy in a short amount of time, cats love it too

Cons: Not recommended for large dogs in small spaces, nylon cord and stuffy is a potential choking or swallowing hazard if toy is left unattended with dog, no replacement squeaky toy

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Home Magazine: A professional dog trainer shares how she uses this interactive teaser toy to train and tire out dogs of all energy levels
A professional dog trainer shares how she uses this interactive teaser toy to train and tire out dogs of all energy levels
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