Is Playing “Tug O’ War” With My Dog Okay?
Who hasn’t heard the age old advice that playing “tug o’ war” with your dog will make him aggressive?
I remember believing this over 20 years ago when I got into dog training.
And, I’m ashamed that I, too, fell for this old urban legend.
Because it, in and of itself, is not true.
Why Is this Misinformation Perpetuated?
There are a lot of old urban legends that claim certain things make dogs “dominant”.
The problem with playing tug with your dog is that it can create excited behavior which is hard for your dog to control.
Dogs love to pull and tug on things.
The excitement that is created can cause some bad behavior and agitation.
But that doesn’t mean your teddy bear of a dog is going to be aggressive after the game.
It is important that the terms of the game are controlled by you.
I LOVE Playing Tug with My Dogs
I actually love playing tug with my dogs!
It increases their prey drive and excitement level, and in the beginning sometimes they miss and a tooth hits my hand, but I use this game to control my dogs’ obedience.
It also makes my dogs’ obedience happy and animated and who doesn’t want that?
Do I Always Win?
I mean, I suppose I win because I am in charge of the game and everything that my dog gets, but I often let him have the toy.
I also make him do things just to start the game.
I make him sit and control himself.
Or I make him lie down.
I might even ask him to heel and give me eye contact.
I even make him drop it or spit it out while we play and I am tugging.
The obedience puts you in control and teaches him to control some of his basic impulses and instincts.
And, impulse control is critical to good behavior.
The problem, and the reason people feel this game incites aggression, is because the dog is just stimulated to the point of overstimulation and agitation and control is never added.
Or the person tries to win every time…
And, it is very difficult to drop your toy and end a game if you are overstimulated and excited and you never win the toy.
I mean, would you play a game that you literally could never win?
Either dogs lose interest or they get possessive and neither will help you with the training of your puppy!