Ever since I started training dogs I have been told that I should never, under any circumstances, play tug-o-war with my dog.  That if I did it would turn my dog mean, aggressive, and uncontrollable.

I have always disagreed with this advice.  I think that one of the best games to play with your dog is tug.  Especially when your dog is a pup.

Here are the 6 reasons why I recommend tug:

  1. Great way to exercise your dog.
  2. Playing tug will strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
  3. Tug can become one of the best rewards to use in training. I know a lot of dogs that would rather play tug than take a treat.
  4. Tug allows your dog to use his or her teeth. Dogs have a physical and psychological need to use their teeth and jaws.
  5. Playing tug with rules gives you control over the most dangerous part of your dog, his teeth and jaws.
  6. Done correctly, tug will teach your dog that you are the pack leader.

Now I want to make one point extremely clear.  When you play tug it has to be played with some rules.  If you don’t follow these rules, tug can become a bad game to play with your dog.

Rule #1: Always start the game.

The only time your dog sees the tug toy is when you bring it out. The tug toy should always be left in the closet or a drawer.

Rule #2: Don’t allow your dog to ever put his teeth on your skin while playing tug.

If he does, the game is instantly ended and the tug toy is put away.

Rule #3: Make your dog work for the tug toy.

During your tug sessions have your dog do commands…sit, down, stay, etc.

Always, always, always end the game.  When you tell your dog to “Drop It,” he should release the tug toy immediately.  During your tug sessions have him release the tug toy a few times.

If you can follow these rules you won’t have a problem with tug-o-war. If you can’t follow these rules, don’t play. It’s as simple as that.