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Playing Tug of War With Dogs

Added on 02 August 2018

Fact or Fiction - You Shouldn't Play Tug of War With Dogs

If you have been holding back from playing tug of war because you have heard that it makes dogs aggressive, the Should you play tug of war with your dog?great news is that you don’t have to! Contrary to what some may say, tug is a great game to play with most dogs - as long as you and your canine pal play by the rules. The game should be equal on both sides, sometimes you win, sometimes your dog wins.

The benefits of tug of war are:

  • Tug-of-war is a fun way for you to bond with your dog
  • Played properly, it teaches your dog impulse control
  • Dogs aren’t born knowing what you mean by ‘drop’ or ‘give’, this has to be taught (using kind force free methods). Despite how much they want to keep tugging, you will be asking them to control their urge and to release the toy
  • When dogs mouth at you, tug-of war can be used for redirection. This can help show your dog that it’s appropriate to chew on the toy but not on your arm
  • It can be a way of releasing pent up energy and decreases the chances of boredom or stress-related negative behaviours by leaving your dog happy and exhausted
  •  It allows for ‘rough housing’ play that has ground rules and means you are not using your hand or arms to engage in that type of activity
  • Dogs can love tug-of-war so much that it can be used as positive reinforcement during training sessions

The benefits far outweigh the outdated myth that it causes aggression. You can read more about how to teach your dog the rules of tug of war and other training tips, visit Speak Dog Training & Behaviour


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Eastcott Veterinary Clinic & Hospital
Edison Business Park
Hindle Way, Off Dorcan Way,

Telephone: 01793 528341