Tug should not be played with a recently adopted dog. This information is based on a well established relationship between an ADULT owner and a dog where play and socialization are regular with one another.
Before initiating a game of tug – consider the following:
- Does your dog know drop? I mean really, really know drop? Teaching a solid drop behavior where your dog is successful 85%-90% of the time is absolutely key to having a good game of Tug-o-war.
- Think carefully – does your dog have guarding tendencies with toys or perhaps redirection issues when frustrated? If you’ve answered yes, do not initiate tug games and seek to further help your pup with those behavior issues with a professional trainer.
- When you play tug of war only move the toy side to side and back and forth- never up and down. Moving the toy upwards, towards you, creates an invitation for the dog to jump up and use it’s teeth, not a behavior anyone wants. Tugging the toy in an up and down motion is not a natural movement for your dog and is strongly discouraged because it can cause pain and severe injury to your dog.
- Do not allow small children to play tug with dogs.
The Rules of Tug
- Use appropriate tug toys. The bigger, softer and squishier the better!
- Use toys that are lengthy and give plenty of space between the dog’s mouth and your hand.
- Get OK with losing! Allow the dog to win 70% of the time. Remember it’s a game…fun!
- Practice ‘drop’ and generously reward your dog for dropping the toy.
- Feeling teeth? Drop the toy and disengage with your dog for 15-20 seconds.