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Tugmutt Method

 

 

 

The Tugmutt strategy for working a springpole focuses on a simple idea.

 

Reward for Tugging

 

Sounds simple but the spring itself needs to be designed to make this easy and effective.

It is important to understand why dogs enjoy tugging and how you can use that to your advantage.

When you encourage your dog to tug on a springpole they view it as participating in a group activity with their pack. 

This mentality and instinct comes from when they had to work together as a team to take down large prey animals. 

Taking the animal down was the goal and the reward was getting to eat that day.

It makes sense to tap into this natural instinct to increase motivation, output and gains using the springpole.

The Tugmutt Method relies on this instinct and creates an easy to understand reward system for your dog.

It encourages them to tug as long and as hard as they can which greatly increases the effectiveness of the workout.

 

Proper Setup is Critical

 

This tutorial is designed to be used with the Tugmutt Bungee Spring, the larger velcro strap makes it easier to adjust the holding strength.  

Hanging the spring at the right height is the most important aspect. 

Too high and they will hang with their legs freely swinging or not have enough traction to perform a full body tug.  

Too low and their front paws will touch the ground changing the angle from which they tug to more horizontal, this is not a desirable position for starting out. 

They will have trouble staying under the spring and might be tempted to constantly let go and regrip or just chew the bite lure.

The effectiveness of this method relies on training them to tug in a consistent manner. 

Getting them to do a proper tug over and over and over again is ultimately the goal. 

 

Bite Lure  

 

The bite lure is what your dog will be gripping on such as a knotted rope, rubber tire, bite pillow or rag.

The Spring should be hung at a height that when they grip the bottom of the bite lure their front legs are off the ground with both back legs firmly on the ground. 

This should give them ample traction and range of motion to perform a proper tug. 

At the lowest point of a tug, their front legs should come close to or actually touch the ground.

 

Now its Time to Work

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 First build some excitement by using the bite lure to play traditional tug of war.

The next step is to make your dog sit or wait while you hang the bite lure.

Attach the bite lure using the velcro strap but only use enough overlap so it just barely stays up, it should break free and come loose with very little weight.  

Command your dog to “get it”  

The bite lure should come down right away, praise your dog heavily, let them know that this is the goal of the game.

Command to drop or let go, make them sit and wait while you hang it back up.  

This time use just a little more overlap on the velcro so it will take 2 or 3 tugs for it to break free.

Again command to get it and praise heavily when it comes down.

Repeat this scenario a few times the first session, gradually increasing the overlap so it takes longer and longer to pull free.  

You really want to keep the first couple sessions short with lots of excitement for getting the bite lure to come down.  

You can always add a little more motivation by using the bite lure for fetch or a quick game of tug as a more significant reward in between hanging.  

Once you've done this a for a few cycles its time to end the game.

 

Always Take the Bite Lure Down

 

Place it somewhere they can’t get it and never let them have long term possession of it since this will negatively affect excitement for the game. 

Always end the game before they become bored, leave them wanting more.

Continue this strategy of hanging the bite lure and having them tug on it until it comes down and rewarding for the effort. 

You can gradually increase the overlap on the strap until it won’t come down at all and just manually loosen the strap when you feel the time is right for them to be rewarded.  

Let them Win

It's important that they are the one that actually causes the bite lure to break free.  

If you’ve ever set up a springpole or similar toy before you will have found out that even if they like to use it they will quickly abandon it if you aren't there to enjoy it with them. 

That's because the reward for a regular springpole setup is your pleasure at the job they are currently doing, not the eventual praise for getting the bite lure down.

 The Bungee Spring outer jacket creates a hard stop when fully stretched that helps slowly break the Velcro's hold.  

If your dog can fully stretch the spring then they should be able to eventually break the Bite Lure free no matter how much overlap you use.

By reinforcing that there is an achievable goal for the effort of tugging and a promised reward that they want, you eventually will be able to leave your dog to continue the game when you are not even there.  

As long as they can come find you after getting the bite lure down and receive their reward you should be able to leave them alone. 

As with any dog training program you have to supply a dog with an appropriate reward. 

If you want your dog to learn something quick or do something difficult you have to provide a high value treat or reward.  

If your dog is tug oriented, reward them with a quick game of tug o war, if they are fetch motivated then reward with throwing a ball they like or the bite lure itself,  if they are food orientated then reward with a high value treat like hotdog or cheese. 

Using food treats as a reward can be tricky when first starting out because the smell or even thought of you holding treats can confuse or distract some dogs. 

It is not recommended to use treats at first unless they refuse to work for anything other than a food reward.

  • Tim Maggs

Setup

Choosing the right springpole and setting it up correctly is critical for success! 

There are 2 basic types of springpole and they each focus on a different type of workout.

  

The first type of springpole setup is the Bite and Hang.

This type of setup should have a short and stiff spring that doesn't stretch too much.  This will allow your dog to jump, bite and hang with all 4 legs off the ground.  

Our Bungee Spring XL are used most often for this type of setup but you don't even need a spring at all, just a bite target hanging at the right height will work also.  

A bite and hang springpole is a great plyometric workout and used to increase bite strength and endurance.  

Springpole sport competitions focus on how long a dog can stay gripped and freely hanging on the bite target, so this is the type of springpole to use if you plan on competing in this sport.

Bite and Hang Springpoles are great for grip and endurance but the best feature of this type of springpole is the plyometric aspect of it.  

This is the simple act of jumping for the bite target over and over again.  

There is so much effort expended and muscle to be gained from jumping that it can be a really valuable condition tool.

To get the most out of this type of springpole it's important to be able to lower and raise the minimum height of the bite target.  

They gain so much from jumping and you want to force them to jump as high as they can every time.

When setting up a Bite and Hang springpole you want to start them off low and gradually raise the height until they really have to try to reach it.  

This will greatly increase the effectiveness of the workout.

Motivation is Key!

Jumping as high as possible is the key to gains.  

Do not lower the bite target once they start to get tired, this will negatively impact motivation.  

Instead it is better to end the session and let them have possession of the bite target for a quick reward and then take it away until next time.

The Bite and Hang setup is the most common type of springpole you see people using, mainly because it looks cool to have your dog swinging around but it is not the most effective for building muscle.  

 

The second type of springpole is the Bite and Tug.

This is the best type of springpole for building muscle.  

Just like a human builds more muscle doing a proper chin up vs simply hanging and holding on with extended arms, the same is true for dogs.

This type of setup should have a longer spring and a greater stretch ratio.  

Most dogs need about about 12"-18"of stretch to do a full body tug.  

These full body tugs are essential for maximizing gains.

The Tugmutt Bungee Spring and Springpole are the best option for this type of setup.  

They are specifically designed with the proper length and amount of stretch to maximize gains.  

Setting the bite target at the appropriate height is again the most important aspect for success.  

The bite target should hang at a level so when they are gripping it they have both front paws off the ground with their back paws firmly on the ground.  

Their back paws should have enough weight on them for good traction and their front paws should almost touch the ground when they complete a full body tug.

Motivation is key!

The most effective use of this setup is to encourage a full body tug over and over and over again.  

TugMutt Springpole products make achieving this goal simple and easy.   

Achieving a controlled and effective springpole workout with this setup is best done by reinforcing a tug for reward system.  

Dogs view tugging and working the springpole as a group activity like taking down large prey animals together.  

You can use this to your advantage by reinforcing that the goal of the exercise is to tug on the springpole until the bite target comes down.  

The velcro strap is the key to this strategy, it makes it easy to release the bite target, which reinforces them to tug as hard and as long as they can.

Learn more in the next section about how to effectively use a TugMutt Springpole

 

 
  • Tim Maggs

Should I get a Springpole?

A Springpole can be a very effective exercise and conditioning tool for dogs. 

It can be set up in a small space and gives your dog the energy burning workout that they need to be happy and well balanced.  

  If your dog likes playing tug-o-war then they will most likely enjoy the springpole. 

The instinct to bite and pull has deep roots from thousands of years ago when they had to work as a pack to take down large prey, today it manifests itself as the healthy drive to play tug. 

That instinct is still inside every breed of dog and you can use it to your advantage, helping to keep them healthy and well balanced.

 

 Everyone wishes they had more free time to invest in their dogs well being.

 The less time you can devote to exercising your dog, the greater the intensity the exercise has to be.

 

Focus on how to get the most effort out of your dog in the time and space that you do have.

The springpole is one of the best options for people who are struggling to tire their dog out everyday or want to increase muscle and strength.

 

A Springpole can be an essential piece of home gym equipment for your dog. 

Dogs build muscle the same way we do, by using them to lift, pull or tug heavy weights.  

Since the wolf evolved to take down large prey using its mouth, a dogs body and muscle structure reflect this adaptation.

Making comparisons to a humans upper and lower body workouts, dogs basically have a forward and a backward body workout.  

The forward body is focused on increasing forward pulling strength.  The carpet mill and weight pull are the 2 most effective tools for forward body workouts.  

The backward body workout is all about increasing tug strength. 

Your dog engages a lot of different muscles when they tug on something and a springpole is the most effective tool for bulking those up.

There are a couple different ways to properly use a springpole and they are all effective backward body workouts.  

Just like humans, dogs need good resistance based workouts if you want them to build muscle. 

There is no substitute for putting in the effort and using a springpole is the most effective way to get the results that you want.

  • Tim Maggs

History

The Springpole has been used by professional dog trainers for over a hundred years. 

  

The benefits of a dog tugging on something overhead and the results that are produced is well documented.  

A springpole is technically any stretchy device that is hung and tugged on from below by a dog. 

If your dog uses a springpole regularly then you will see an increase in strength and muscle.  

Just like doing pull ups over and over again will make a human stronger, the same is true in dogs.

The first springpoles were just a bite target (cotton rope or linen rag) attached to a long springy tree branch or a sapling. 

The name came from the similarity to a “springpole lathe” a wood working tool that has been used since at least the viking age. 

Springpoles are actually very simple to make, anyone can assemble an effective springpole from supplies found at the hardware store. 

The concept is so simple that most people do just that and can have very good results but Tugmutt springpoles have been designed to get the very best results in the safest and most effective way possible.

There are a lot of misconceptions about springpoles especially what they are used for and the results they produce. 

Most of the misunderstanding comes from the fact that up until recently they were used exclusively by dog fighters, so unfortunately a lot of people now associate springpoles with dog fighting.

The fact is dog fighters did invent and continue to use springpoles but the reason why they use them is misunderstood.  

The reason dog fighters use them is clear, they are simply the best way to strengthen and condition a dog. 

They do not use them to promote aggression or dominance.

Experts now agree that tugging has no negative effects towards dominance and aggression, in fact the opposite seems to be true (Rooney & Brandshaw, 2003)

Dogs have a deep instinct to bite and tug, it comes from when they had to work together as a pack to take down large prey.

  Playing tug of war and working the springpole is seen by your dog as a team effort, not a war or game they are trying to win.

  

  • Tim Maggs

Velcro Strap Instructions

TugMutt velcro strap

  • The TugMutt attaching strap is made from strong lightweight nylon webbing and high quality velcro.
  • The retaining flaf stops it from shifting or moving duringplay. Alays make sure it is properly in place.
  • Being able to remove or switch the rope toy is an important aspect of the Tugger.
  • You can easily replace the rope toy when it becomes damaged with another rope toy or almost any suitable chew toy for Dogs.
  • Being able to easily disconnect the rope toy can be important to keeping your dog interested in playing with the Tugger. Some dogs will become bored or frustrated with the Tugger if they can neve get possesion of the toy. The strap allows you to detach the rope toy to let your dog have possesion.
  • You should never let your dog have the Tugger when connected to the rope toy, they may swing it around injuring themselves or others.
  • One tip for encouraging your dog is to loosen the strap just enough so it breaks free when they tug, this will motivated them to work as hard as they can.
  • Always be careful and ready for the recoil of the bungee cord.
  • Another useful tip is to use the rope toy for fetch, alternating a certain amount of time of time of tugging for a reward of tossing the rope toy, this can build motivation for tugging.
  • Anuj Collaborator

Will My Dog Use A Springpole?

Are you concerned your dog will not use a springpole?

What is the best way to introduce a dog to the springpole?

Learn the proper way to get any dog started with a springpole!

  • Tim Maggs