Should you play Tug of War with your dog?

dog training tips

Cow enjoying a game of tug @ home

“Tug of War will make your dog aggressive”

Is a common myth I still hear from people.

I have proven to my clients for over 20 years that this is untrue - and they have learned how to play properly with their dogs and enjoyed the game very much.

Dogs love to bite and pull and thrash. Giving them an outlet for this is constructive and a proactive approach to living with a dog. Expecting them to not want to explore this side of their character is asking for trouble.By encouraging them to bite and focus on the toy - it allows them to have a release and helps prevent problem behaviour. It is also a very bonding experience because you are now sharing a favorite activity with your dog. Quality time.

Will it make my dog dominant or think he’s the boss?

I have never seen a case of playing tug of war with a dog create any dominance issues or create relationship issues between dog and human. If anything - like mentioned earlier it is a bonding and fun experience.If you have concerns that your dog may have doninant traits or your dog challenges you and especially if you have a possesive dog than I would suggest not playing tug with your particular dog.

Should I let my Dog win?

Sure - why not? I let mine win from time to time - and as long as your are in control of the toy and the game - there is no harm in letting your dog win. You can see in the videos below that the dogs win and would rather play with their person than keep the tpy on it’s own.
Havanese puppy training
Playing tug is not just for big dogs.
Monty a 5 month old Havanese puppy enjoys playing tug as well.

Tug of war as a reward in training

Here is a video of Barbara learning how to play tug with Ikie - a young German Shepherd.Ike is a strong dog with lots of character from working lines and playing tug is a hugely rewarding event for him in training.As you can see when Barbara switches him into a heel command Ike is happy to go to work becasue fun things happen when working.

Using tug of war as an advanced training tool

Here is an old video of Roxy - a PitBull who stayed with me for training years ago accompanied by my old Dutch Shepherd hyper. Roxy loved to play tug and I used this opportunity to condition her to work around Hyper and have to control herself both on and off of the toy - not only outing on command but also waiting to be told when she would be allowed to take the toy again. This is especially challenging becasue each dog now feels competitive witht he other one and wants to grab it prematurely to try and control the toy for themselves.
If you pay attention you will see how each dog is respectful of the other dog’s space and are careful to grab the toy at a distance fromt the other dog.
Hyper and Roxy are not buddies and really have not spent any time together before this video was filmed - it was a spur of the moment thing that came to me while working with Roxy and filming her towards the end of her course.
This video makes a HUGE point about tug not making dogs aggressive and about dog training and pitbulls as well.

The above advice is given in a general sense and not intended to be used without professional supervision and/or guidance. Family K9 and Nick Zevgolis assume zero liability in any and all actions arising from utilizing any information found on this website. The dog’s owner assumes all risk and liability fromt heir own dog’s actions. It is recommended that you seek out preofessional advice with regards to any and all training for your dog.

Working like a dog - with the dogs!

A day of dog training for me typically involves training dogs at the kennel and visiting clients and their dogs in their homes and local parks as well. It is without a doubnt the greatest job in the world. I get to commincate, share, interact and learn from canines and humans alike, enjoy the outdoors, have a constantkly changing and stimulating environment and get to help people and their dogs acheive their goals and make their lives together more fullfilling.

Vaudreuil/St Lazare Dog Training In Kennel Training - K9 bootcamp

Here are a couple fo the dogs at the kennel in for training:

Leo - a German Shepherd mix who is a large, powerful and very excitable! In 1 1/2 weeks he has had a complete turn around and is now easy to manage and already trained to heel, come when called, leave it, place, sit & stay - all on and off leash - around some pretty huge distractions like when out playing with is buddies.

Dog Training St Lazare, vaudreuil, Family K9 com, Nick Zevgolis

Up next is Sauske
A Shiba Inu - whose owners called me becasue they were afraid for his safety since he is was constantly escaping from them when the door is open - and he would run off and make a game out of it - wanting the family to chase him around the neighbourhpd.
In the one week he has been with me he is has kearbned to not run through doors and to come whenever he is called. Sauske is a very independant, strong willed and sweet dog - true to his breeds characteristics.

Shiba Inu, Nick Zevgolis, Montreal Dog Training

Leo and Sauske having some playtime during training.

Puppy training in Westmount

Golden Retriever, Westmount Dog Training
Mosby Learning to leave the Leave it command

Mosby - Golden Retriever enrolled in Puppy Pre School
Mosby is a Golden Retriever pup - who not only needed training like all pupsdo - but also had a tendancy to be aggressive when possesing objects in and out of the home.
His owner ran into someone in the street who told her to google Family K9 and she contacted me for training. They are off to a great start - here is part of an email from his owner after our first lesson:

“Hi Nick,
I just wanted to say Thank You for today and the tools you gave me to help our family and Mosby. We had a really successful afternoon and evening and saw a big difference in his behaviour tonight. I know it's day one but I have high hopes his name will be downgraded soon to something more polite.
I look forward to next week.

Dog aggression Downtown Montreal K9 bootcamp

Montreal Dog Training, K9 bootcamp , dog aggression

Grover - Mix breed and HUGE owner signed him for in home intensive training. Dog aggression is a common problem many owners face and is no joke when the dog is any size - let alone over 100 lbs and powerful! In 2 weeks Grover will have completed his course and his owner can enjoy taking him out enjoying the ability to control her dog.

In Home Dog Training - Hampstead

Hampstead Dog Training, Nick Zevgolis, Family K9Frankie Labrodor Retriever/Pitbull Mix - Frankie’s owners had previously trained with another trainer and not acheived the results they were hoping for. After several different people recommended Family K9’s servcies - they contacted me and I have to say Frankie was a delight to train. Here he is @ the end of his course - completely on and off leash trained.
Here is a link to his video:
Frankie in action!
Frankie;s owners wasted no time putting everything they learned into ation - here is an email from the VERY FIRST DAY they began working with Frankie right at the end of their course.
I trained Frankie each day @ their home for two weeks and in that time he learned all of his obedience both on and off leash.
We had one lesson together at the end of the course and here is how they are doing right from day one of dealing with Frankie on their own.

Hi Nick, 

Thanks. He sat on place the entire dinner. Just came in from working with him, he's doing great.
We are thrilled so far!



He was fantastic again at dinner. One of my kids spilled there food as they were bringing their plate to the sink when they were done. He didn't move until I released him to let him eat it. 



Puppy Training in Brossard

Brossard Dog Training, Dressage de chiens brossard
Monty - Havanese - link to Finn - Link to Puma - Link to Board and Train - Link to Puppy class
Monty’s ownber found Family K9 through the facebook page
They have started Monty in in home puppy training and have plans to have Monty complete the Board and Train in kennel dog training program when he is old enough. Here is Monty learning to leave it working with his owner Niki.

Back home in St Lazare with my own Family K9 - see everyone tomorrow!

bulldog, montreal, st lazare, dog trainer

A Balanced Approach to Dog Training

Finding Balance in your dog’s training is one of the most important aspects of having a happy & well trained dog.

Here we see Romy a young pup learning to Leave It or not touch.
This is her first lesson with regards to leave it and she is doing great!

Watch her take the cookie from my hand on more than one occasion - she aproaches and takes the cookie right next to the piece of Melba toast without hesitation - however, she does not touch the toast. She comes back for a second piece of her treat and again does not try to grab the toast.
What does this prove?
That she is comfortable around the item she has to leave.
In other words she is not afraid of it.

No Fear or Bribes - just a happy & Obedient dog.

Some trainers use fear to train and while no doubt those dogs will listen - it comes at a very heavy price. Our dogs don’t have to pay such a heavy price - carrying the burden of fear for the sake of being obedient.

Romy has no fear of the item she is suuposed to leave - she is just learning limits and boundaries - there is no need for fear - ever.
She feels safe and comfortable taking what is hers - even right next to the item she is not allowed to touch - Balance.

Always train your dog with clear communication keeping balance, fairness and compassion at the center of your work.

The cutest Labrador Retriever puppy!


Leo is a 5 month old Labrador Retriever pup who has been trained with nothing but love and affection and it shows.

He is a wonderful little worker and a special pup.
Here you can see him working on his recall while the other dogs at the kennel are providng some big distractions.

The key to dog training is to adapt to the individual

dog’s character and needs and Leo is a happy, upbeat dog who likes to interact and play and loves affection - so his obedience is focused around that and you can see how he loves to work - becasue work equals play..

Take a look at how thrilled he is to be working.
Even thrilled to be called away from the dogs he so desperately wants to play with.

He is only half way through his training program - one and one half weeks into a 3 week program and then he and his owner will be reunited and his owner will be taught how to properly maintain his training.

Porscha - Off Leash Heeling in 2 days!

Check out this 5 month old Cane Corso puppy heeling off leash after 2 days training!


Bringing home a new puppy

How to raise your puppy - have a plan