Most dogs love to play tug. I especially like this game because it makes me a critical part of the game.   Whenever I am playing with my dogs I try to be consistent with the rules and incorporate some basic obedience behaviour as part of this fun time.  Play can be a strong reinforcement for training.

Teaching your dog to tug is a great relationship building game.  It can help your dog learn impulse control as it goes from ‘crazy dog mode’ to ‘thinking dog mode’.  Played correctly, tug does not cause aggression in dogs.  In fact, your dog will learn self-control as well as to listen to you when he is getting excited.  If your dog does mouth or bite you during the play, the game must end.

NOTE :  However, if you are worried about being bitten, then do not play tug with him.  Also, if you or your dog has a medical condition that could be worsened by vigorous play, then do not play this game.

Your dog should control how much tugging is going on and what intensity.  Your job is to hold the tug toy and provide some light resistance.  Avoid quick, jerky movements.

Rules to follow for playing tug:

  1. The tug toy is yours.
  2. The tug toy is never left out but your dog can have other toys available to him.
  3. You start the game.
  4. You end the game.  See below for teaching the release cue.
  5. If he happens to put teeth on you, say “oops, game over” and put the toy away for several minutes.
  6. End the game before your dog gets tired of it, that way he will be keen to continue the game next time.
  7. Put the tug toy away when the game is over.
  8. Children should not play tug with your dog, unless they are supervised and you are confident that they know the rules!