It’s also very popular among bully breed owners to construct a spring pole do accomplish the same sort of exercise. A google search returned millions of entries!
What I have found thus far in my research has surprised me. My initial inclination was that this activity is not a safe training tool. It turns out that, when implemented properly, this can be a very good addition to any exercise/fun/conditioning program.
Here is one in particular that I’ve seen a few times:
Properly here needs an airtight definition. Think of it like this; skydiving is a very safe activity–statistically– in which to engage, but if done so with a tattered parachute, no training, and no regard for how or where you land, you may get lucky a few times, but eventually, you will hurt yourself. Just like taking the time to do these things before you jump out of a perfectly good plane is prudent(understatement!!!) , proper implementation of a spring pole/hanging type exercise is extremely important, proper implementation, in my humble opinion, is as follows:
-Always use a spring that can handle the force your dog will be applying to it. For ours I am using a ~300lb porch swing spring, attached to medium duty chain, that is hanging from a very sturdy tree branch in our backyard. I tested the rig with my own weight, swinging, pulling, jumping, etc before allowing my dogs to grab it. The spring functions to lessen the static force that the dog applies while pulling, and a heavy duty spring won’t snap and injure the dog!
-This type of exercise, whether the feet are off the ground or back legs just barely touching, cannot be done on a daily basis. Having the teeth bear such a heavy load, day in and day out, in the long term can cause nerve damage which will lead to tooth death.
-Do not allow your dog to swing at a height from which a fall/slip could cause serious injury and/or death. A few inches is all that is necessary to accomplish the muscle building and strengthening benefits of the exercise. Any higher is extremely dangerous for the dog because there is always a chance of him losing his grip or falling wrong when given the release command, a good example of this can be seen in the video below, Mama Coral loses her grip at one point early in the video, but only falls an inch or two and without incidence.
-Be in control of the situation. This should go without saying for any responsible dog owner, but I’ll say it anyway. First consideration always should be the dog’s safety, the only way to accomplish this is to be in control of every aspect of the fun. As you can see in the video, I have taken this as far as being completely in control of Mama C when she is off the ground. If I feel she doesn’t have a good grip, is in a unsafe position, etc, I can lower her to the ground to avoid injury.
In my reading I also found a lot of references to this type of activity causing aggression in dogs. This comes from “old school” techniques where the dog was untrained and just let loose on the lure(whatever she would be hanging from). Because the dogs didn’t have a trained release command, the person would have to use a break stick to get the dog to disengage(which causes frustration, anger, increased drive, and uncontrolled impulsiveness). This obviously led to dogs that were very powerful, yet were untrained and aggressive. So when this exercise is used properly and with training it does not cause aggression in the dog.
So this is the video I put together today showing off Mama C and her new spring pole attachment. I have another attachment that we use for “more free” play, but that one is long, the kong touches the ground, and all four of her feet are planted when she is pulling.