‘How Can I Teach My Dog to Enjoy Tug?’
Playing and training go hand-in-hand. More than any other game, tug-o-war is great for teaching discipline and new skills. For lots of dogs, playing tug comes naturally. Stick a toy in front of them and all they want to do is grab and tug – great fun!
However, for other dogs, nothing could be further from the truth. When you put a tug toy in front of them, all you get in return is a blank stare. This can be frustrating for you as an owner and your dog might be labelled as ‘lacking drive to play’ – but this isn’t the case!
Play is an adapted form of instinctual dog behaviours – to chase, grab, bite then kill. Tug-o-war taps into this chain of behaviour. But some parts of it might be more familiar to your dog than others. Let’s say your dog knows how to grab and bite, but doesn’t know how to chase. Using a tug toy, try a short chase of 3-4 metres followed by the reward of grabbing, biting and tugging.
On the other hand, if your dog loves chasing but isn’t familiar with the rest of the chain, start by letting them grab, hold and bite a toy and follow this up with a chase. You should start to enjoy a successful game of tug in no time.
About the Author: Danny Rouse is one of 4 directors of Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, a family business based in Exmouth that has gone from a small local firm to an internationally recognised brand in the dog sport market. His role focuses on customer satisfaction and driving the business forward. In his spare time he enjoys long walks with his dog Horatio and loves sampling good food out and about in Devon. Danny and Horatio also train regularly at East Bowerland Farm with Devon Dogs.