It's no secret dogs love to play tug of war! Puppy Kisses recently did a poll on Facebook asking if their dog preferred a tennis ball to a tug toy. And while it was not a slam dunk, most dogs preferred to play tug.
Tug of war is a healthy display of their predatory nature though some feel the game causes aggressive behavior and dominance. However, tug of war is actually mental and physical exercise for your dog. It is also a great way to reinforce the bond with your dog.
When playing a round of tug with your pup, remember to always set the rules to keep the game from getting out of control.
Before playing, teach your dog a release command, like “drop it” or “give”, before you begin playing. This will help you stop the game if necessary.
Choose a toy that is designed for tugging. The toy should be durable and flexible. The best tug toys are typically made out of rubber or a similar material and have a comfortable handle that keeps your hand away from the dog's mouth. Good choices include a rope or pull tugs.
Whether you are indoors or outside, play in a large area without clutter or dangerous objects. Make sure there is room for you both to move around and that there is nothing in the way should one of you back up.
It is normal if your dog gets excited and begin growling, however, it is important to keep your dog from becoming overly excited. A low, mild growl with the tail still wagging is probably okay, but anything more warrants a break. To take a break, stop tugging and use your release command. Take 30 seconds or so to go through basic commands like sit and down. Once your dog seems more relaxed, the game may resume.
It's ok to let your dog win while playing tug of war! This builds their confidence and rewards fun behavior. However, if they misbehave, you should be the one who ends up with the toy. Two dogs can play tug of war with one another - if they get along on a normal basis. The game should be supervised and the same rules apply.
Playing tug of war with your dog can be a quite rewarding experience. Games are mentally and physically stimulating for your dog, and pretty good exercise for you too! (source: the spruce)