Click here to learn more.
Nothing is more fun than a good game of tug with your pooch. Unfortunately, tug has gotten a bad reputation; many pet owners believe that tug teaches their dogs to “be dominant” or to “be the boss.” Not to worry — it doesn't. In fact, tug is an excellent way to bond with your dog and to direct his excess energy into a healthy outlet.
Tugging on the end of a toy comes naturally for most dogs; when dogs play, they often rehearse behaviors they would use for survival. Playing tug mimics the natural predation sequence of pulling an animal down and ripping away pieces of the meat to eat. Although most dogs are not capable of actually taking down a wild animal, they still have the genetic programming to do this part of the predatory sequence, which makes tug an excellent tool for mental stimulation and exercise. In addition, tug can be used as a reward for a job well done; many working dogs, including canines for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, are motivated during training by the promise of a good game of tug.
Be aware that some dogs will growl when they play tug. In the majority of cases, this growling is a normal part of dog play. However, if your dog has a history of guarding objects or food, or if he shows tense body language, check with a behaviorist or certified professional dog trainer to be sure that tug is a safe game to play with him.
When tug is played with appropriate rules, it can be used as a powerful reward for displaying good behavior, which helps create more structure in the human-dog relationship. Here are three simple steps to a safe game of tug.
Teach “take it.” Give your dog a specific cue that lets him know he can take the object into his mouth. This helps prevent your dog from putting his mouth on any object to engage in a game of tug and lets you initiate the game of tug. Only use specific toys for tug. Some dogs will try to play tug with any object, such as a child’s stuffed animal, but if your pooch is taught that tug only occurs when the command “take it” is given and only with a specific toy, tugging on off-limits objects becomes less of a problem. I like using rope toys, such as a pet dental rope, which has the added benefit of cleaning teeth while your dog plays.
Teach “drop it.” In order to keep the game of tug under control, teach your dog to let go of the tug toy on command. Unfortunately, tug can get out of hand when owners are trying to pry a dog's teeth off an object to get him to let go. By teaching “drop it,” you are actually teaching your dog self-control; only after he releases the toy can the game continue. In other words, you are teaching him that in order to get what he wants, which is to continue tugging, he needs to drop the toy first. In some cases, you may need to teach “drop it” with a less valuable toy first, such as a tennis ball, before you work on teaching it with the more exciting tug toy.
Teach no teeth on skin. Your canine needs to learn to be extremely careful about where he places his teeth. As soon as teeth touch your skin, mark it with an “oops” or “ouch” and immediately drop the toy. Wait 15 to 30 seconds before you begin the game of tug again. The no-teeth-on-skin rule helps keep you safe and teaches your dog to be careful with how he uses his teeth.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
A baby squirrel who fell 75 feet from her nest is being nursed back to health at a rehabilitation center in…
Jan Jeffries, Jr., was working at a miserable jobsite when he encountered a dog who would change his life forever.
With their adorable matching outfits, best friends Zoey and Jasper have quickly become the new darlings of the…
With Easter on our minds, we combed our database of rabbits names to find out the 10 most popular monikers of 2013.
Dentistry used to be the outcast of the veterinary world. Now many vets dedicate tons of time to oral care for…
Our friends at JeanKnowsCars.com reveal cars that are great for pet owners, from versatile minivans to rugged SUVs.
With Easter coming up this weekend, we jumped at the opportunity to celebrate the holiday's most iconic species.
The Abyssinian, who wears a beautiful ticked coat, is an intelligent and athletic feline who stays in constant…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.