Tug of war – a game that many dogs naturally love to play. This is a game that allows dogs to display their predatory nature in a healthy manner.
Although some would argue that this causes dominance and aggressive behavior, the game is actually a great form of mental and physical exercise. Other than that, playing this game with your beloved dog reinforces your bond with your dog too.
There are some rules that must be followed in playing this game to keep it from going overboard.
- Have your dog master release command like “drop it” before playing the game. This ensures that you will be able to stop the game if need arises. You should be confident that your dog will release the toy if things start getting out of control.
- Use a toy that’s specifically made for tug of war. Choose one that’s sturdy, flexible, but at same time comfortable for you to handle. Those that are made of rubber materials are usually the best tug toys. Make sure that the handle is designed to have enough space between your hand and your dog’s mouth.
- Ensure that the area is large enough for you to play without distractions or harmful objects. Tug of war is usually played outdoors. However, this can be played indoors too, that is if you have enough space without any object that would get in the way.
As the game is a predatory in nature, you might notice that your dog begins to growl especially as he gets excited. This behavior is normal. However, take control and ensure that he doesn’t get overly excited.
If his tail is still wagging while he’s growling a little, this should still be fine. However, if he gets more intense or if you start to worry about the situation, go for a break. If at any point his teeth touches you, go for a break too.
Break time is when the “drop it” or any other release command would come handy. Give him the release command and take a break for about 30 seconds. Give him other commands like sit and down while having a break if you want to. Then, resume the game once you notice that he’s already relaxed.
If he repeats the mistake of being overly aggressive or having his teeth touch you, end the game. This will teach your dog that he should be more careful, especially with his teeth. While it is normal for his teeth to graze you every once in a while, he will eventually understand that being careful is part of the rule.
Don’t worry about letting your dog win. This is actually a great way to boost his confidence and also a way to reward him. Don’t let him win if he misbehaves while playing the game though.
You may also allow your dog to play tug of war with another dog. Just make sure that they get along well and that you’re supervising their playtime. Follow the rules to keep things from getting out of hand.
Playing tug of war does not just mentally and physically stimulate your dog. It is a good way for you to exercise too!