Thursday, January 24, 2013

Puppy, It's Cold Outside!

      Even if you live in a place that's traditionally warm in the winter, you may be experiencing some very cold weather this week.  Here, in upstate New York, we're in the single digits. Brrrr!  One of our two dogs, Cody, has almost no fur, and even with a coat, he can barely stand a one-block walk in this weather before begging to go home and sleep on his favorite heating vent.  However, Cody has the energy of a Jack Russell.  I was at my wit's end during the frigid winter after we adopted him, until a friend suggested I use a flirt pole.  

     If you've never heard of this miraculous toy before, you're in for a treat, as is your pup!  A flirt pole is, basically, a long pole with a toy attached via a long string or rope, as seen in the photo at left.  But how does this strange contraption actually help exhaust an energetic dog like Cody?

     Here's how it works: you swing, dangle, and toss the toy just out of your dog's reach and he or she exhausts tons of energy jumping, leaping, and racing after it. Eventually he or she grabs the toy (or you make it easier to catch), and they have the satisfaction of chewing it a bit.  After a few minutes, you tell them to "drop it" (or, if they haven't learned that command yet, this is a great time to teach it: try bribing them with a treat while saying the command, and praise when they let go of the toy), and the fun starts again!

You can see what I mean by watching this video:  
     While you can certainly use a flirt pole outside, what I love about it is that it's equally useful in the house, especially during weather as cold as this.  I can thoroughly exhaust Cody without the danger of frostbite (to either of us!). 

    So, how do you get your own flirt pole?  You can either make it yourself, as I did, or buy one. I used this tutorial on eHow to make mine, but I think this tutorial from "notes from a dog walker" is really good.  The 1" PVC I used for my flirt pole is very sturdy, but it's a little heavy for me to hold for long periods.  The 3/4" pipe that "notes from a dog walker" recommends seems like a better option.  I tied one of Cody's favorite squeaky toys on the end of the rope.  When he catches it, I praise him and let him squeak it a couple times.  Then we're off again!

     I hope you find the flirt pole as useful as our family has.  I'd love to hear about your adventures and even see photos, if you want to share.  Just post them below!

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