A Cheap and Easy Toy That Also Trains Your Dog

How to use a "flirt pole" to exercise a dog who loves to chase and catch.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
1-minute read

You’ve probably seen those “fishing pole” toys for cats – basically, a slender rod with a feathery or furry toy on the end of a string. Similar toys for dogs are called “flirt poles,” and they’re a great way to exercise a dog who loves to chase and catch. You can buy them online or make your own.

Securely tie a piece of fur or leather, or a squeaky toy, to a length of strong cord. Then attach the cord to a piece of light, flexible plastic piping or bamboo about 3 or 4 feet long. Presto, a flirt pole!

Run the toy along the ground in front of your dog – make like a squirrel running away, and watch Dogalini go, go, go! It’s great backyard exercise or indoor rainy-day play. (Just pick a room without a lot of breakables…)

You can also use flirt-pole play to teach your dog to pay attention to your cues when she’s excited, and to drop valued items on cue. Check out my article on tug-of-war games for more.

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About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).