I’ve gotten this question a few times in the last couple of days. Thought I’d share my response here since a few other people may have the same question. Enjoy:
Question: “What are your thoughts on people who tie a tug and let the dog hang? ……..What’s the purpose?”
(old school shot of a tree Spring Pole)
My Answer: “Back in the day Spring Poles were just ways to develop grip and drive. They would put dogs on them and let them rip. Most dogs didn’t have an out so they would break stick them off the hide/tug. This is CLASSIC agitation. Take the dog up pulling on a 2 inch collar going apeshit. Let them get it and go NUTS. Then….. Literally pry them off! Makes a ton of drive. Not to mention physically conditions their wrestling, and biting musculature. That said….. There were a lot of stuff in old school Keeps/Pit Dogmanship that can be super useful if done a little different. Spring Poles are one of them. Typically everyone now knows that tug can be a great way of training your dog. Builds great obedience, and impulse control. Develops relationship. And, satisfies a very biologically appropriate style of play. Spring Poles have all those same benefits…… AND……
1- MORE impulse control. The tug is being directly controlled by you. Which means “some” of what keeps them from early strikes is spatial/social pressure. And “some” of what makes them out is you “deading” the toy (-P) to enforce the command. Well….. If the toy is inherently self reinforcing and not being controlled…… Their impulse control must be SOLID. And their out must be BOMBPROOF. Because, when you say out, they “can” keep going. That’s a HUGE jump in impulse control.
2- Increased area of influence. For you to send away, out, recall, down at distance etc…. your obedience from a distance has to be solid. Most people can say down and get compliance at 2 ft. At 20…. Not so much. compliance from your dog at 20 ft, in the face of an available, HUGE temptation…… That’s monster training.
3- Real world translation of skill. If you can out and down at a distance….. Or recall your dog OFF a spring pole, you have a much better chance of calling them off a squirrel!
4- People have adopted WAAAAAAY to much dog. There are a gang of nice little old ladies that are adopting Pits. Good for them. But they couldn’t play tug with their dog to save their fucking life. That’s a huge bummer. That dog will forever miss out on an amazing activity. And that owner will miss out on a great training modality. a trainer can do a few sessions and get the dog working on a spring pole. Then help them put one up. Get them all set. Then,,,,, Granny can work that dog like a champ! That’s a HUGE benefit. Really fills a hole for new, over their head adopters.
(modern day Bully on a constructed pole Tell me that dog’s not the epitome of happy)
Here’s one of my dogs during their 3’rd session learning Spring Pole. As he gets better it’ll get higher. (the higher it is, the more it “fights”, the more impulse control it requires)
So…. There you are. Why I like, and teach people how to use the old school spring pole!
Maybe now I’ll put up a “How To Make One” article.
One thought on “Spring Pole: Good Or Bad?”
I guess it depends what you want from your dog – years ago I adopted a shropshire puppy ( cousin to a staffordhire ) – I didn’t know a lot about the breed at the time, and was paying more attention to the media bias about “pitbulls” than my own common sense about dogs – I’m a sleddog racer, and I wanted to train a weight pull dog as well, but I didn’t want a “loaded gun” on the place – I discouraged any behavior that might lead to aggression – I told my kids NOT to play tug of war, “if the puppy grabs the end of the T towel when you’re drying dishes”, for instance, “drop the T towel!” – when the fat little black puddle of a puppy came to me, the name that had been given to him was “Fang” – I promptly changed that to “Ozzie” – I insisted that he play gently with other dogs, —— and the story goes on – Ozzie grew up to be one of the most gentle dogs I’ve ever met – he did his utmost to avoid any dog who he thought might be a threat – to give credit where credit is due, he did keep his ability to recognise a human with bad intent, once saving me from being mugged by a group of agitated young men by walking 20 feet in front of me and merely standing with his front feet spread a bit wider than normal and an attitude of “just try to get past me” – he didn’t have to say a thing – the gang abruptly changed direction and headed off in a different direction – twice he pulled the fat out of the fire for my wife when she found herself in trouble – once squeezing through the sliding rear window on her truck to sit between her and a very weird passenger she had given a ride to – he made no threat to the passenger, but a 60 LB black “pitbull” bulging with muscles from his weight pull training doesn’t have to say much to to make an impression when he’s sitting close enough to be touching someone – Ozzie did become a great weight puller, but over all would have to be considered a wuss when it came to being around other dogs – he stayed away from trouble to the best of his ability – if I were going to raise and train another dog like Ozzie, I’d do much the same training as I did with Ozzie, perhaps allowing more room for breed specific play than I did with Ozzie, but I’d still avoid activities that tend to build aggression ( a bit of background about me — at the present time I still have my 30 racing huskies, and do behavior modification therapy for dogs with behavior problems – I seem to have built a word of mouth reputation because dogs with very severe problems are being sent to me from literally 1000s of miles away and I am having to expand my facility to be able to take in more dogs )