Tug of War, What is it Good For?

Lisa and Cailie enjoying a game of Tug

I actually prefer the term Tug of Love. It’s hard to imagine that it was once thought that playing tug with your dog would cause him to become aggressive. Thankfully, we now know that’s not true.

What “is” true is the number of benefits derived from playing tug with your dog.  There are many!

Let’s take a look at some of those benefits.

  • Tug is a great bond building game. The two of you are focused on one goal and it’s a give and take game.
  • Tug is a great game to play to help teach a solid “drop it” behavior.
  • Tug is a great mental workout for your dog.
  • Tug is also a great physical exercise. 
  • Tug can be used to redirect inappropriate chewing and mouthing. 
  • Tug can be used to redirect attention back to you in a distracting environment.
  • Tug is a great game for teaching impulse control. 
  • Tug can also be a great reinforcer for teaching all kinds of behaviors. 
Cailie enjoying some tug with Brad

Tug does have a few rules in order to keep everybody safe:  

  • The tug toy should be long enough to prevent teeth from reaching your hands. If the dog begins to work his way up the toy and reaches your hand,  merely end the game and start again a few moments later. He’ll soon learn to keep his mouth on his end of the toy.
  • There should only be one or two toys that you use to play tug. These toys are kept out of the dog’s general play toys and brought out only when you’re ready to tug. This helps the dog learn that not everything in his mouth is tuggable. When play is over, put the tug toy away.
  • When tugging, shake left and right, not up and down. This is to protect the dog’s neck from injury. 

We all know that our dogs tug at our heart strings so now let’s break out that tug toy and have a big ol’ Tug of Love. 

Brad Waggoner is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP), a Dogbiz Certified Dog Walker, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and Partner of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. He enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. www.coldnosecollege.com

Lisa Lyle Waggoner is the author of The Original Rocket Recall™: Teach Your Dog to Come. She’s a CPDT-KA, a CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer Level 2, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior, a dog*tec Certified Professional Dog Walker and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. The company’s trainers enjoy providing virtual behavior consulting and training solutions to clients around the globe and offers coaching, mentoring and behavior case support for pet professionals. www.coldnosecollege.com


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