Quick Tip for Fun with Your Dog – Tug-of-War

Tug-of-war is a fun and harmless game to play with your furry friend.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,

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

Want to raise a happy dog who loves to play and cuddle -- but still comes when called and doesn't chew up your favorite shoes?

Then check out The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet!


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