Please send us comments. Is the Y pole new to you? If not, what are your experiences with it?
Y poles are an essential tool when working with feral dogs or fractious dogs in animal shelters. They are a simple tool that is merely a safe extension of our hand. The Y pole is intended for situations where the dog is caught, cornered or penned. People find that the Y pole is far more versatile and much more humane for the animal than when a snare pole is used. When used properly, a Y pole creates a much calmer situation that is more compassionate for the animal and more pleasant for the animal handler who has no desire to fight the animal.
If you cannot get your hands on the dog because it is unsafe, the Y pole allows you to do whatever you wish. You can move the dog into a transport kennel or crate. You can “invite” it to submit to examine the surgical site after it is sterilized or conduct a physical exam. (I am using unusual terminology because I wish to teach new ways of working with difficult dogs. These methods strive to blend or connect with the dog whenever possible rather than forcing a dog to do what we wish.) You can blindfold and hobble it to move the animal; or you can use the Y pole with a syringe pole for a truly successful chemical immobilization.
How It Works
The Y pole utilizes fundamental principles for canid behavior to restrain them. It is about 75% psychological control and 25% physical restraint. It is the nature of canids to submit to this gentle restraint device when properly used. Proper use requires a combination of dominance with kind and calm movements. The dominance motivates the dog to submit. Kindness and compassion will make the animal feel safer and more will to do what you request. The Y pole will not work with physical force alone.
An effective way to use the Y pole is to cover the head with a towel (by a second person) as soon as the Y pole is applied. This will calm the animal more and prevent it from being able to track your movements. A second Y pole may provide more dominance and when the animal is down may provide more control during a procedure such as a physical exam.
I believe that every animal shelter in North America (and elsewhere) should have two Y poles for handling fractious dogs. The Y pole will significantly improve how difficult dogs are handled in shelters and will create a more comfortable working environment for shelter staff. I also believe that increased use of the Y pole will help change a trend from physically forcing dogs to do things (i.e. with a snare pole) to incorporating animal behavior and working animals in a manner that is for forgiving and humane.
Useful for All Captive and Wild Canids
As I have written in the About page, I learned about handling feral dogs from handling hundreds of captive and wild wolves, coyotes, and fox. I have introduced the Y pole to several captive wolf facilities and now they are a critical tool for safely working with the wolves. The California Wolf Center captures their wolves every January to conduct annual physical examinations, vaccinations, and blood collection. I have taught wildlife handling courses there for over 10 years and introduced the Y pole during the first class. Over the years, most of the captive wolves have learned that submitting to the Y pole is much better than trying to evade capture by a net (the net is a very common method for humanely capturing captive wolves).
Where to Get Y Poles
You can either make a Y pole yourself or purchase them. Here is a PDF file with directions for how to make a Y pole: Making a Y Pole It is important to make them light but strong. Aluminum is best except for the largest canids, such as wolves. It is better to make the tines too short rather than too long. If they are too long, the animal can slide its head through the tines. The best covering for the tines is first a layer of tough rubber hose such as radiator hose, very sturdy garden hose, or wraps with bicycle inner tubes. Then cover with a foam tube used for insulating water pipes. Lastly, cover with many, many layers of tape.
My non-profit organization, Global Wildlife Resources, offers an unfinished 2 piece Y pole which is both sturdy and affordable. It comes with directions on how to pad the tines. Visit our on-line store for more information.
For more information on the Y pole, visit our website Y Pole Page.
PLEASE SEND US YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THE Y POLE. WE WISH TO HEAR FROM YOU. Dr. Mark