Dogs just love interactive play with us and a game of tug is a fun way to exercise and entertain your dog. The game offers a great mental and physical workout and an opportunity to do some basic obedience work while training impulse control.
Like any dog game, you should keep some basic rules in mind when playing tug of war.
Puppy training guide to tug games
- Teach a “drop” or release command – this will help if you need to end the game.
- The best dog toy for tug is durable, flexible and long enough for your pup to be able to grab on to in while keeping teeth away from your hands.
- You should be initiating the tug of war games – store the toy out of reach and sight when not playing.
- Teach a “take it” command. The game should only begin once you have given permission. Reduce the likelihood of jumping up and grabbing the toy by first asking your dog to sit and be calm. If your dog is not familiar with tug you might need to encourage your dog to take the toy in his mouth, and slowly move the toy from side to side to encourage him to pull.
- Tugging should be from side to side. Pulling up can lead to injuries to your dog’s spine.
- Dogs really enjoy a vigorous game of tug and might growl during play. This is normal behaviour. However, if you feel that the game is too intense, take a short break.
- Your dog should be mindful of not getting their mouth and teeth near your hands. If there is contact, you should end the game. Let out a yelp and ask your dog to release the toy. Wait for your dog to calmly sit and use the “take it” command to resume play. Should teeth make contact with your hands again, stop the game for the rest of the day. Your dog will eventually learn to be careful of your hands when grabbing the tug toy.
- Small children should not play tug with your dogs. Older children should always be supervised so that you can step in when you see signs of over-excitement.
How long should a game last? It is up to you and your pup, as long as you are still both having fun and it is not too exhausting. Generally, these games can be pretty intense, and only last for about 5 minutes.
This is a great activity for indoor play, and especially rainy days. The next time the weather turns miserable, make some space and initiate a game of tug with your dog. It’s a fabulous fun workout and a great way to bond and train with your dog.
Click here for more benefits of playing tug of war games with your dog.
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