Is Teasing Really THAT Bad?? A Lesson on Building Excitement

Thanks Dogs the Dina for the Photo. This is a dog with a flirt pole.

I’m sure that this will be another very controversial article; although ha ha I am never sure when controversy will arise, but let me say that I believe in teasing.

Let’s break down teasing a little bit so I can help you to understand a little bit from a dog point of view.

Typically when I say the word “tease” when referring to dogs, my mind conjures up a small child perched outside a chain link fence barking and running back and forth and enraging the dog within… this is the BAD kind of teasing.  And really there is no good that can come from this kind of horrific behavior (make sure your kids are good with dogs)

Actually GOOD teasing can only be done effectively by family, friends (adults for the most case) and other trainers that have good intentions and know how to effectively play this game.

Human Teasing

Look at the Air on this Dog!! Doesn't it Look fun??

Look at the Air on this Dog!! Doesn’t it Look fun??

Usually when someone calls you a “tease” they are calling you a flirt, and flirting isn’t so bad.

Teasing can have multiple meanings.  In human interactions teasing usually comes in two different forms; playful and hurtful.

Obviously we are promoting the “playful” variety here!

Teasing (as long as there is a guarantee of payout) is fun and can lead to excitement.

Teasing also builds drive.  The more teasing that goes on, the more the person/dog usually wants whatever it is in question.

And, getting what you want all of the time is not very exciting; you may feel entitled but you certainly don’t feel excited about it or much less like you have “EARNED” something.


Remember your first real paycheck?

Remember how great it felt to EARN something (even though most of our paychecks didn’t equate to much).

It was so very exciting to spend it on something that you had wanted!

This is how your dog feels when he works for something.

Why I Tease

I tease my dogs with toys to build drive and excitement for toys.

Eventually this drive or excitement for the toy will help me to compete at a higher level and it will keep my dog from wanting to chase people or animals or pay attention to other things and keep him focused on me.

Often people tell me, that their dog doesn’t like toys or treats enough for them to ignore everything else that is going on around them.

But that is because “on their own” toys are not exciting enough to ignore most other things in their environment… unless…

A Multiple Teasing Session

A Multiple Teasing Session


Teasing them builds their drive and excitement for the toy.

I don’t just throw a ball, I dangle and whip and keep that ball away from my dogs for a few moments.

I tie it to a pole and whip it around in front of them (called a flirt pole).

For older dogs or painful dogs you don’t need to encourage this kind of jumping, running around trying to grab the toy is enough!

The inability to be immediately rewarded by grabbing the object makes it WAY exciting!

They want the ball/toy/tug even more!!

I Even Use a Tie Out

I often even use a tie out to make the frustration, and then eventual reward even greater.  I never leave my dog on a tie out and for more on that and how it creates an aggressive dog click here.

If my dog is in a certain space and I know they can’t get past it, it makes my ability to tease them easier for me.

Otherwise my dogs get so excited by the dangling and the whipping and the game of keep away that they begin flying around me with teeth out; which is good for drive building but it puts my skin at risk.

I have a few scars I could show you from playing this game with super high drive dogs!

A tie out makes things safer for my body and can help facilitate me teaching my dogs to bark and then be quiet (for more on that click here).

Make It Fair

You can’t tease and not reward!

The Face and Paws of Joy and Excitement!

The Face and Paws of Joy and Excitement!dd.  You have to reward and in the beginning it needs to be pretty quickly after you begin teasing.

You can make it longer and longer in duration for the required behavior.


This is a short term type of training.

Whereas I make my dogs work for longer and longer periods of time before they are rewarded; I don’t tease them for very long (unless I need some short term drive building to spruce up their excitement).

If you use it correctly, this can be a great way to train!

This is why a ball is more exciting to my dogs than any deer, dog, squirrel, child, or anything else going on in their environment… because I play this game!  and they LOVE it!!!


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  1. Asa Mika'el says:

    Can 6 month old pup that has eaten a chicken on a farm be corrected, or, do I have to put it down, please? Thanks for your kind response.


    Minette Reply:

    You have to keep the pup on a leash and keep it fro happening again…


    Asa Mika'el Reply:

    Thanks. I have taken to keeping her on a leash all day and releasing her in the late evening when all the chickens that open range retire to their tree branches for the night. I am open to other suggestions. I have been thinking of playing with the chickens very close to her on the leash, and even giving her a close-up whiff in perhaps 30 minute sessions per day. I’d welcome your comment/feedback.


    DogWatch Hidden Fences Reply:

    Not sure if this is the right solution for you, but it is an interesting story nonetheless – and a true one. Someone having a similar problem contacted her local DogWatch representative (she has a DogWatch Hidden Fence). They came up with a creative solution. The woman made a little “backpack” for a chicken and the DogWatch rep made a little portable battery operated transmitter (same frequency as the hidden fence) to fit into the “backpack”. One of the chickens wears the “backpack” so when the dog comes close to the flock, the transmitter in the “backpack” sends a signal to the collar the dog wears for the hidden fence and the dog backs away. The dog still has the run of the yard (within the hidden fence boundaries, of course) but does not bother the chickens anymore. Everyone is happy.

    Ndw Reply:

    Hi Asa, this happened to our dog (Schnauser) and the good news is that it can be reversed through gradual exposure and reinforcement. When we first got chickens. When we found the bird we were very stern, put the dead body in her face and said no! in a very loud voice. She then was put on a tie down outside and had to sleep outside for the night (she usually sleeps indoors and knows this consequence is serious)
    The following day we brought her over to the chickens on lead and every time she looked at one or went to sniff them she heard a firm No! The day after that a longer lead and the same process, the day after off the lead followed with lots of praise when she ignored the chickens. This was about 5 years ago and while she still runs after magpies (we encourage this and give her heaps of praise) she’s never gone for a chicken again. They even peck around her and she either ignores them or gets up and walks away. Every breed of dog is different but this worked really well with her. Good luck with yours and know it can be done even if they’ve killed before.


    Kristy Reply:

    I agree with NDW. That is how we train our dogs but also maturity of the dog needs to be concidered. Leash always if they are immature or high drive towards the chickens at all! Leave it!! Loud and firm!


  2. Gary Martin says:

    I liked the article and teasing is a great enhancement.

    When I was in the Air Force Sentry Dog Training,back in the 60’s teasing was used for exercise and to get the dog to focus. They loved it and it was fun.

    Can you give me a description of a “Flirt Pole”? I have used a wet towel on a light rope, but the pole idea for my Lab sounds like real fun. He is an avid ball chaser, but I want some variety too.




  3. Rowena says:

    I have greyhounds. Many sighthound owners give intitial training as puppies for lure coursing using a buggie whip with a racoon tail or some other attractive fuzzy. Using a buggy whip you can drag the toy on the ground but pull it up in the air to keep them from catchng it right away.


  4. Linda says:

    I’m always looking for new things to get him up and moving. I have a Shih Tzu and if any dog is temper mental this is the breed that shines. We show in Obedience and sometimes it’s a struggle. I definitely will try ur suggestions.


  5. Michael Casey says:

    Hi Minette, I love these blogs, always something new to learn. The photo of the jumping dogs reminded me of advice that I received from my vet recently (and that you might like to pass on)…never get your dogs into play mode after they have eaten. My vet had a German Shepherd like mine recovering from an operation, after his owner had fed the dog his son started to play with him and the dogs stomach had flipped causing an obstruction that would have killed the dog without intervention by the vet. Just a word of warning to all dog lovers, it was something that I had not heard of previously.
    Best wishes


    Minette Reply:

    thanx Mike!


  6. Sien says:

    When my dog (white shepherd cross) and I play together she teases me as much as I tease her. Great fun.


  7. I live on forty acres in the Kootenai Forest in Montana. Deer are everywhere and will show up at any time. My 8 month old Aussie has become obsessed with chasing them. It is purely chase response. She will sit and watch until there is movement and then she’s off like a rocket.

    She has only gotten to chase them 2x as I put her under house arrest as soon as the behavior manifested. She is either in an enclosure or on a lead at all times now. I just hate it and so does she.

    I have been working with her on a long line and she is absolute perfection with “wait” and “stop” until a deer shows up and it’s like I cease to exist. It’s all I can do to hold her back.

    I’m trying to think of ways I might use this tease information to help with our training. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    Yes, use it to teach this


    Kinsey Barnard Reply:

    Thanks for the reply.

    I didn’t make myself very clear. I was wondering, specifically, if I could somehow use the teaser in the no chase the deer training?

    Molly makes very good eye contact. She responds perfectly to “stop” and “wait” commands. But, the minutes she sees a deer it’s like everything she knows is erased. This is my biggest training challenge.

    How to you train dogs not to chase?


    Minette Reply:

    That is exactly it, when I see a distraction I ask for eye contact and I become the most important thing in my dogs environment.

    while I was running the other day two baby fawns came out and I was able to keep their focus with just a ball and the command to give me eye contact.

  8. Travis says:

    Hi Minette, I have a mini poodle who just turned 1 year and she likes to tug but only when she is all worked up–that is usually in the evening. When I want to work her in the morning it is virtually impossible to get her to tug or show interest. I can run her toy along the ground in attempt to activate her drive to “chase” and play. She is very high energy at times but it has been frustrating to be able to “tap” into this energy. I want to build focus with her but am frustrated at this point. I can jump around wiggle a tug in her face, tickle her belly and run off and she will just keep her attention on a bird in a bush or any other little thing. If she hears a dog barking across the street it is enough to break her concentration on me and run to the fence for a look. Anyway ideas you might have, I would be extremely grateful to hear. Thanks for all your blogs and comments you have posted–they really are such a benefit to many people!


  9. doribones says:

    I have tried the flirt pole idea and it was a real lifesaver this winter! My pup turned one the end of Feb. and this winter was pretty brutal. We live in the Poconos on the NY border, and I am a wimp about the cold so I don’t enjoy being out in winter. My pup is a GSD/Malamute mix so cold is NOT a problem for him, he loves it. The flirt pole was a great way to exercise him (especially up & over the 5′ snow wall along the driveway from the plow) I only had to be out 1/2 hr 1or 2x a day to mellow him out enough to keep him from nipping and pestering our older female until she bites him. I would play fetch with her while flipping the rope on the end of the pole. He is so excited by the game I now use just the rope, with the loop that we had a rag in still intact (once he caught it, I couldn’t get it back and my goal was more about exercise) he still loves it and goes nuts! I used an 8-10′ bamboo pole ( cut from friends driveway) and tied (&taped) yellow nylon rope of the same length and started out with an old sock or t-shirt (went through several as he’s a “shredder” and was tearing them up when he got hold of it) the length keeps him away from me and gives a wide circle to run when we spin or I flip back&forth. It has definatly made me the most interesting thing in the yard (& the feild we play in is next to the chickens!) Thanks for the great idea!


    Minette Reply:

    Glad it helped!!!!


  10. diane says:

    Thank you for the suggestions to get my 7 year old yellow lab to learn to play. Can’t wait to try. I neglected to meantion she also does not bark. I have heard her in her sleep but that is all in 3 months. We feel she must have been abused. We live in a condo so it is OK but it does worry me. Do you have any thoughts? We also feel she was in a puppy mill. She was not fixed until 3 days before we picked her up. She is very sweet and is extreemly loyal. We are in our 80’s and needed a dog just like her but feel she needs stimulation. Thanks


  11. Barbara Smith says:

    We just adopted a stray Glen Terrier, now with the energy of a cat. 5 twister. I’m constantly working on ways to divert his interest and cunning bratty behavior. My best solution so far has been two (safely smooth) 14 oz cans, one slightly bent to fit snugly into the opening of the other thus leaving enough of a hole to insert some tasty kibble. He runs, jumps, shakes, tosses and otherwise beats up the contraption until every piece has fallen out. It’s a riot to watch and harmless fun for him.


  12. Sharon Gross says:

    I have a nephew who is 26 years old who constantly kicks at my dog, who is a yorkie,an my dog becomes very aggressive,and I am afraid now that it has gone on too long an he may become a biter,I am living at my sisters house and try to keep the dog from him,but living in the same house it is hard to do. How can I help myself and my dog,my sister is no help at all.


    Minette Reply:

    Obviously at 26 you aren’t going to change his behavior. All you can do is keep your dog safe and keep him with you.

    I would use a leash around the house and a crate when you are gone. I have even padlocked crates to ensure that no one tampers with my dogs while I am away, or lets them loose outside.

    I would do my best to get out of that situation as soon as possible, because the kicking will cause the aggression to escalate and possibly be associated with other people as well.


  13. Evelyn Mayer says:

    Recently adopted a stray female Norfolk Terrier 5-6 yrs, 15 lbs. Please give me suggestions on how to get her to play. Her breed are ‘chaser’s’; yet she will not chase a ball. She does chase cats out of the yard.
    Are there chase type toys that also tease?
    Always learn a lot from your articles. thanks.


    Minette Reply:

    This article outlines how to get them to play. Also read this one


  14. ron says:

    This type of teasing I consider more of play. My dog likes old shoes, chews on them, the ones we give her. She is still puppy, about 1 year old. I often grab the shoe and try to take it away and she fights for it. I always let her win, but we have fun with it. She often brings the shoe to me wanting to play, well that is how I look at, but sometimes it is difficult to really know what a dog is thinking.

    Yes the article is excellent. We cannot interact with our dogs the same way we do with our kids. We have to work with them as they can understand and teasing/playing is necessary so the dog will know you care. IMHO


  15. manoj dwivedi says:

    Send me some video 0f traineed dog


  16. Sue says:

    I read your post daily and have really picked up some good training tips. I do however cringe every time I see someone luring their dog to jump in the air – some just high off the ground – some look like their back is going to break. The canine chiropractors and veterinarians are definitely getting job security here OR your dog will very possibly live in a lot of pain and/or develop arthritis which is also quite painful. I do play Frisbee with my dogs. They love it. But I throw it for distance and such that it stays close to the ground. Can I just suggest to your readers that they watch out for the health of their dogs while they play and/or train? I watched my trainer do this consistently and didn’t feel like I should say anything – after all – she was the trainer. Well, both she and her dog paid (malanois) at a young age of the dog – her in $$$ and the dog in health. PLEASE think about it.


    Minette Reply:

    Dogs jump… they jump in agility, flyball, dock diving, protection work, obedience, Frisbee… and just about any sport I know


  17. Dave says:

    Our husky just loves his flirt pole, it’s such an awesome play tool and has allowed us to train him to perfection! Some great pictures on here, the dogs really look like they are enjoying themselves.


  18. Bonnie Moore says:

    Both of my dogs are very food motivated, but don’t care about balls, frisbees, stuffed toys or anything that doesn’t have food in it (such as a stuffed Kong), or something that is made for a power chewer to chew on. Toby is a Labrador Retriever/German Shorthair Pointer/Siberian Husky mix and Lacy is a Texas Blue Lacy (Greyhound, Coyote, scent hound). How can I get them interested in playing with toys or balls? They both love to wrestle and play chase, and Lacy herds the dogs at the dog park going about mach 1. She also sails over 4′ plus fences and can jump straight up onto a 4′ platform from a stand still, like a cat. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    read the article and play the game


  19. Ella says:

    Why do you suggest putting the dog on the leash??? Wouldn’t that be bad for him to be straining against it??


  20. Barb says:

    Hi there. This sounds great to me. I’ve never heard of a flirt pole before, and no pet stores in my area (Ontario Canada) sell them. So if I make one at home, can I just use an old broom stick and attach a clamp to the end? Does the dog have to jump and pull the toy out of a clamp or do you give it to him after playing a bit?


    Minette Reply:

    I use a horse whip but yes anything works and after a bit of teasing I let them play with the toy for a bit before grabbing it and teasing them again.


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