Tug-of-war is a fun and harmless game to play with your furry friend.
Playing tug-of-war is some of the most fun we can have with our dogs. Played by the rules, tug will strengthen your dog’s self-control and teach her to respond to you even when she’s amped. The consequence for breaking a rule is that the game ends, so dogs who love tug generally learn the rules PDQ.
Two quick cautions before the fun: if your dog acts possessive over food, toys, or space, consult a behavior specialist before you play tug. In fact, consult a behavior specialist anyway. Also, if your dog mouths hard when excited, keep tug-of-war games brief and low-key. Interrupt play often.
A few last pointers. Many dogs get growly during tug. Look at your dog’s body overall – is he wiggly? Are his eyes soft? Does he look happy and playful? Good. Also, as a rule of thumb, play growls are relatively throaty and high-pitched; growls that mean business are deep and come from the chest.
Finally, play gently with a puppy or adolescent: no pulling upward; keep the toy at the level of the dog’s head, or lower. Skip tug altogether while your pup is teething.
Dog With Rope image courtesy of Shutterstock
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