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
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 target.
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.
The bite target 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 target 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
First build some excitement by using the bite target to play traditional tug of war.
The next step is to make your dog sit or wait while you hang the bite target.
Attach the bite target using the velcro carabiner 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 target 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 target to come down.
You can always add a little more motivation by using the bite target 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 Target Down