Tug with Your Dog - Good or Bad? - Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

Playing Tug With Your Dog. Good or bad for your dog?

A lot of people have read that it’s not a good game to play  tug with your dog. But it can be a great energy burning exercise for your dog.  But there are a few rules to understand about the game.


First, let’s talk about the type of toy for Tug of War

When  teaching your dog to play tug, I prefer that you use a cylindrical toy, kind of like this.  Or if your dog likes stuffies, here’s a well used stuffy.

The reason that I use a cylindrical toy, is I can grip both ends.  When I grip both ends, I control 2/3 of the toy, Keeper’s 1/3 is in the middle, in between my hands.

So, type of toy is critical. Never share 50% of the toy with the dog, initially, because then he has more control. 2/3, 1/3, that’s your rule on toys.

The next thing is how you play the game of Tug.

You have to have rules and the rules are this:

1. Always sit to earn the right to play. It’s real simple.
2. The second most important rule, is no being mouthy
3. Being mouthy equals game over.

He can’t go for your hand and put his teeth on your hand. Dogs are very precise about their bite grip.  They can drill right down on their 1/3 without hitting your hand, if they want to.  They’ll test you a little bit by trying to nip or bite your finger sometimes, so if that happens, game over.

Don’t lose your patience. Just say, “Oops, game over.” Put the toy away, play again later.

Tug  Let’s You Also Teach “Drop It”

The tug game is a great way to teach your dog to drop it.  How many times during the day has your dog picked up something of yours, taken it and not wanting it to give it back? If only he knew the command, “Drop it.”

So here’s a good way to teach your dog to drop it, playing tug.

Now you’ll notice a couple of things.
1. I’ll make Keeper sit and then I’ll say, “Take it,” that’s his command word to play the game
2. Then when I’m ready to drop it, you’ll see me pull the tug toy tight, side to side. I never want to pull it towards me when I want to end the game, I’ll pull it side to side.

Keeper may want to continue the game by trying to back up and pull on it himself.

But if you always practice on a leash, at least initially, what you can do is you can step on the leash to prevent him from backing up.

I’ve played the Tug Game With Keeper A Lot!

So that means you’ll notice a lot of this is sped up.  He tends to drop it when I say, “Drop it.”  I usually don’t have to step on the leash, but for purposes of demonstration for you, he’s on a leash here plus he’s outside.

So I’m just going to drop the leash like this. “Come here Keeper.”

Look here, “Drop. Good. Sit.” Always make him sit to play the game.

So I pulled it tight like that and kill the toy action basically.

If I need to or if you need to, step on the leash with your foot to prevent him from backing up.
Then you say, “Drop,” pull the toy tight and wait him out.

Don’t repeat the word, “Drop it,”

Just be patient. “Take it. Good boy. Drop.”

• This is a good way to burn energy
• It creates calm in your dog,
• It works really great on your relationship because he looks forward to the toy.

Remember: Always make him sit before you play the game. Teach him drop it, just like I showed you, and then when the games over, you put this toy away so that it only comes out when you play the game with your dog.