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Tug or not to tug??????????

1149 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  widow
I'm curious about how all of you view playing tug with your dogs. We have "always" played tug, over the years (with our first dobe, then a great dane and a mini doxie, & now our second dobe - 9 months old). I've seen so many negative views on it lately that it's made me curious as to dobe owners opinions. We only allow the game with family members (or friends) that can make her "release" when told. She LOVES it (as all of our others did). And is now getting to the point where - if you take more than a few seconds to grab the rope - she will give it up on her own. :clap2:

BTW - I don't post much - but JUST LOVE THIS SITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :cool2:
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IMO, it depends on the dog.

I play tug with Maggie and am seeing no aggression at all out of it. When I say "Give", she minds gives with no hesitation. She seems very happy doing it, and we do not get rough.

If you see your dog is a "challenger" or becomeing aggressive, I'd nix it. From my readings on this,when playing tug, you, as the Alpa should "win" the majority of the time, especially on the last go-around, but let him/her win a few as well. They'll usually bring it back to you like "Here - let's do it again!".

Having a release command is the key.
in order to play a really nice game of tug I have rules. Like they must drop it when asked, or game over. I always start the game, not them. I also stop the game when I want. And people always win. Sometimes I mix the game of fetch in with this, which is double fun for them, the rush to bring it back so we can keep playing tug.

And the tug is put up until we play, the tug toy isn't always lying around, I use it for training or a fun reward or just b/c, they have other toys they can use for tugs around the house, but the special fleece and one really large rope tug stay put up (they would prob. destroy them anyway) =)

If you have a low confidence dog or are involved in Sch. they do let the dog win to build up confidence. I think tug can be a great and fun game in the right settings with the right dog. And

yes, if the dog gets too aggressive during play, put it away and don't play tug.
I have always played tug with my dogs, both Dobermans and Italian Greyhounds. The most competitive tug player I had was my IG Hayley. If by some chance she didn't win, she insisted on a "do over" until she did.

Sometimes I let the Dobermans win, sometimes I won, sometimes the Dobermans won whether I intended for them to or not. Sometimes if a dog brings me a tug toy and wants to play I will play with them, I don't always have to be the one who initiates the game.

To me the key is whether the situation is in your control, whether the dog is becoming too serious/aggressive over the game or not. I was playing tug with dogs for years without knowing there was supposed to be anything wrog with it, just like you. And like you I didn't have any aggression problems because of it. I think that like others have said here, it's a good game, fun for both people and dogs, except if aggression enters into the picture. I think the article that are written saying not to play tug are thinking that it leads to aggression and the dog challenging the owner but that is not the case most of the time.
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Thanks bunches for the replies. I've always felt, as long as you are in control, then it's a great way to burn energy. But I've read, quite often, people strongly against playing tug "with ANY dog, ANY breed"! Reasoning - if the dog were to ever bite someone - they would hold on and PULL, therefore doing more damage, because of playing tug.

I think playing tug and having a release command is a benefit in overall training, not a negative one. But I'm always open to new ideas in training and wanted to see what others thought. :)
widow said:
Reasoning - if the dog were to ever bite someone - they would hold on and PULL, therefore doing more damage, because of playing tug.
That's kind of the nature of dogs anyway, whether you play tug with them or not. Dogs have what's called "the opposition reflex". If you pull, they'll automatically pull in the other direction. This is why if you want to remove something from their mouth, you're best advised to push IN, not pull back.
I always play tug with Abbie she loves it and it wears her out too!! I let her win quite a bit but knows the 'leave it' command and will let go straight away. Diesel bless him doesn't really understand and just lets go when you start pulling! Abbie is always trying to get him to join in and drops the rope in his mouth but as soon as she pulls he lets go and sits there looking confused.
Java loves playing tug - nothing better in her opinion than having another dog grab the end of a rope toy @ the dog park and pull. Of course they always end up standing there staring at each other for 20 min , neither giving an inch, but if the other dog does let go, she practically waves the dropped end under its muzzle to get it to grab hold again. No signs of aggression with this game or any other.

Our trainer @ Obed School suggested I use a rope toy during recall exercises as a reward simply because she loves the game so much.
Maybe this wont apply to this breed, but I have a springpole for my pitbull. They can tug all they want and never win! Maybe dobes wouldnt be into it as much as pits because its more natural for them
Tug Or Not to Tug....I say TUG....

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LOL Kratty!! What an adorable pic! I LOVE it! :)
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