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The Agitation Whip/Clatter Stick -- Do you use it and how?

23829 Views 17 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Mark Connolly
I've heard alot of things about the agitation whip, from "it's a crutch for weak dogs" to "it can't be used defensively" to "it's a must-have tool!".

Do you use it? How do you use it? What type of dogs do you use it on?

If you don't use it, why not?

How do you view the whip in comparison to the clatter stick? Would you compare these as similar tools? Would you say that a whip can't be used defensively but a clatter stick can? Or are both just prey tools in your opinion?

Would you rather use a clatter stick than a whip? Or a whip than a clatter stick? Both? Or neither?

A whip used in the hands of an experienced whipper can be cracked loud enough to momentarily stun your hearing senses similar to the volume of a gunshot -- would you say that if a dog can withstand an extremely loud crack from a whip, would this dog be OK around gunfire in the Standing-Gun exercise in something like ASR? Or can dogs differentiate between gunfire and a whip cracking?

If you use a whip, does the whip ever make contact with the dog? Do you teach a dog to work thru the physical sting of the whip to get a bite or do you use the whip purely for it's noise and motion? Does the contact with the dog depend on the individual dog? If so, what type of dog would you sting with a whip and at what stage in training would you do this? If the whip never makes contact with the dog, are you opposed to trainers who do train in this fashion?
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We have one helper at SchH Club that loves the whip. He's constantly whirling it around and cracking it, even when there isn't a dog on the field - he's even got a couple of handlers (including Wayne) on the legs with it by accident. :lol: I think he just likes to get all the dogs riled up because as soon as he starts cracking it, the cars in the parking lot start booming and shaking. :twisted:

He uses it for noise, and yes, does hit the dogs with the whip part sometimes, and sometimes he'll hold the whip and just use it the way a regular stick would be used; waving it over the dog and hitting the dog with the stick as opposed to the whip itself. There are a couple of dogs that have learned that if they're quick enough, though, they can grab the whip and yank it out of his hand! :eek:

This is one of them, and right after this pic was taken, he DID:

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Kristen Cabe said:
We have one helper at SchH Club that loves the whip. He's constantly whirling it around and cracking it, even when there isn't a dog on the field
I think that's a guy thing... :lol: At my training sessions we usually have 3 or 4 decoys (myself included, we're being taught to decoy by the trainer) and some other people n we're always walking around cracking whips "practicing"... I've gotten quite good at it :lol:
We have a whip, we use it on young dogs only who have to be attended, or sharpened up a little (NOT with the very drivey or hectic dogs). For the last agitation is also done by hitting the dog :wink: Rolled up it is used like a soft stick when dog is on the sleeve.
Mike Schoonbrood said:
I think that's a guy thing... :lol:
No wet towels out there on the field, huh?
I knew you enjoyed cracking that whip, Mike... first person (seriously) I've seen that will just walk around cracking a whip for the hell of it :lol:
I use the whip as much as possible during agitation, I love the whip, and the clatter stick, and we have one made of bamboo – cut into thin broom like bristles – for a lack of a better description.

The clatter stick is used to put pressure on the dog whilst on the arm, by beating the opposing end, contra to the bite end - suite, or leg – bite tug, this is just my distraction device – I stroke the dog and rub him with it to calm him on the bite.

The whip is to get the juices pumped up – and yes it is intended to mimic a gun shot, it does hit the same pitch and is as effective, imo.

The more you use it the harder the bite – but this is not a rule, just an observation, and yes they fight the whip, if you nick them with it, or jump clear of it, i use it to improve vigilance, foot work, and to imprint a serious fight.
I have a whip, don't use it all that much. EArly in agitation perhaps. We do use a lot of gunfire during agitation, but of course the proper response to gunfire is; no response. I do use a piece of pvc pipe with a rubber insulator, like you'd use for protecting pipe from freezing. We strike the dog with that, while he's biting. Legs, flank, head etc.

I use it for the show and sport dog people's a trigger for prey, to "wake" a dog up, to reduce spinning or unattentiveness, to keep a dog from getting the sleeve and make him work harder for the bite. I do not use it to ellicit defensive responses too often, as the dogs look at the whip too much, and I would rather they were looking at me.

I also crack it while the sport and show dogs are biting sometimes...but I think that's for my own enjoyment!

For the serious dogs I don't use it at all.

For gunfire I use..... :eek: gunfire. I do the shooting for the most part, and very often while I'm doing regular obedience, as David wrote, to get NO RESPONSE.
We use both of them to acustom the dogs to different noises. Amazing how many dogs bail the first time they hear the clatter stick. Even some of the ones you think will be solid may leave for just a sec on their first exposure. The best are just ramped up with the noise when on a sleeve.
Even though we're a sport club, we put the dogs through as much as possible. Plastic bottles with rocks. Water pistols in the face. Anythig we think up.
I have a female of Czech/Slovak Policia lines who doesn't have any drivey/hectic behavior. Being so calm and serious, she doesn't work through prey drive at this point. Today we used the whip to bring out her civil drive, and got great results. She wanted the decoy badly, and once when he threw the sleeve off his arm to one side she barely glanced at it. I guess every tool has it's most appropriate uses, and when snapped loud in the air and contact at her feet, we got our best responses. If she was focused on the whip, I didn't notice.

No shots showing the whip, but you can see she's worked up.

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Not all dogs notice...but if you use the whip long enough and consistently will BECOME a predictor of civil stuff about to happen for ALL dogs. If you'll continue her "civil" education, she'll need to learn other triggers for civility. If you're trying to get prey/fight behaviors (bites at a distance, chasing) through defense your dog needs to be a very good dog. (Civil responses=defense/avoidance/fight.) I hope she is. She sure is a looker!
Related question: any tips on making a homemade bamboo clatter stick?
Clatter STick

HI Maren

Go to your local Family Dollar, Dollar Tree etc. store and look for
those bamboo tiki/lawn oil lights. You can probably find then at
Loews or Home Depot but they'll be cheaper at the $ store.
Take it apart and throw away everything but the bamboo stick, which will already be split :)
They don't last as long as a regular stick, but they're a lot cheaper.
The homemade bamboo clatter stick.

I use this recipe for curing the bamboo;

The easiest and most effective way to treat bamboo against insect and
fungal attack is to stand the freshly harvested bamboo (with leaves still intact) in a container with COPPER SULPHATE solution 1:10 (1 part copper sulphate to 10 parts water)

The leaves continue to photosynthesise and draw the solution up through the stem as they transpire. I've found they need about 24 hours. You take them out, trim the branches then store them to dry/cure

Copper Sulphate is an approved substance for organic certification as a fungicide so there's no big toxicity problems.


Bamboo will last longer if slowly dried (cured) in the shade and storing them horizontally is preferable and more effective (though takes longer) than standing them vertically.

I put a copper pipe clamp 1/3 of the length – (one foot) - around a two-inch bamboo, and clamp it tight. Then I cut it into strips, across the circumference.

When finished I just dip it in outdoor wood varnish, (shake off the access, and then beat it against a wall, until there is barely anything left – this keeps the bristles hard, and separate, the sharp ends – (spines are covered, and then let it dry), just the bristle part gets treated. – :wink:
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Thank you Thomas and Reinier! I'm not sure I've even seen fresh bamboo available around here (other than the kind people put in little pots for decoration) the size it would need to be, but thanks for the detailed instructions. I'll probably try out the tiki torches.
Thomas and Reinier, excellent suggestions and advice.
There is a large stand of bamboo in the parks that I mow. I've been scratching my head on how to use them. :D :wink:
I use the whip on a limited basis. I use the whip when I start defense building.

I move away from the whip early in training so that dogs do not become dependent on audible cues from the decoy or suspect. Suspects don't crack whips or hiss at dogs :roll:

I have discovered many dogs that get way to worked up over gunfire. When questioning the handlers most inform me that the whip was used very heavy in training.

As David stated earlier in the thread I want a dog that is passive to gunfire and minimal use of the whip helps me acheive this.

I don't understand trainers that insist on all the bitework involving gunfire. You never bring a dog to a gunfight. :idea: A dog should accept gunfire and be passive to it. A dog should be obedient while his handler fires his own weapons.

I do use a whip quite often when working with dogs that are to equipment focused.
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