Pup U
October 17, 2023

Playful Pup 301: Toys on Sticks for Dogs

This is the third lesson in our Pup U series, Playful Pup. In this lesson, you will learn the benefits and best practices for using a toy on stick with your pup. 

Dog running after a flirt pole

This is the third lesson in our Pup U series, Playful Pup. In this lesson, you will learn the benefits and best practices for using a toy on stick with your pup. 

Many people have used this type of toy with a cat. However, there are specific products also designed for dogs! The design allows for the toy to move quickly and in prey-like ways. It also allows lots of toy motion without you having to move as much. Because the toy is on a string, we can provide many play opportunities without a dog running away with the toy. This is also an excellent option for young puppies who like to play bite - your hands are far away from the toy!

Toy Play Safety Tips

If your dog loves this type of toy, it’s essential to give him a warm-up before playing and a cool-down afterward to decrease the risk of injury. Any high speeds and sudden direction changes can be risky, especially if your dog just got up off the couch and is not physically prepared for activity. Also, if your dog is panting hard afterward, he’ll need at least a cool-down walk to get his respiration rate back to normal before you return to work or get busy with your next task of the day.

Avoid having your dog jump up to grab the toy. This looks cool but can be a safety hazard for any dog, especially for growing puppies. Also, avoid super sharp sudden turns, especially if your dog is enthusiastic.

Vary the direction you go - so that you don’t get dizzy!

Keep it Fun and Challenging

Move the toy so that your dog has enough of a challenge. It won’t be as fun if he easily grabs the toy each time. If he can never catch the toy, he may give up trying. It’s ok to have some repetitions where you move the toy away at the last moment - this can build enthusiasm.

Vary the time you let your dog chase the toy before he can grab it. Variation will create persistence and keep him participating for a more extended period.

Advanced Stick Toy Play

Once your dog loves this toy, we can add self-control games such as letting go, waiting for permission to chase, and holding still while you wave the toy around. This is a great stepping stone to having control around wildlife, joggers, and other temptations.

Start easy - have your dog sit while you hold the toy portion in your hand and move the toy slightly. Reward your dog for staying with a treat to his mouth or permission to chase the toy. On the next repetition, add in a little more motion. Continue to increase the challenge until you can wave it on the floor. If your dog gets up before you give permission, just pick up the toy and pause before trying again. 

Need a refresher? Check out Playful Pup 101: Tug of War Basics and Playful Pup 201: Learning to Let Go.

Ready for more? Schedule personalized one-on-one training sessions to help you and your dog take it to the next level.