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.

Is Your Dog's Training Distraction Proof?

Is your dog’s training distraction proof?
Reprinted with express permission by MontrealDogTrainer on September 30, 2016 in General
Marlo staying on his place despite an other dog’s efforts to get him to run and play. Can your dog focus under distraction?

Teaching a dog to work even when distracted is a huge part of my training programs.

If you aren’t training your dog to focus on you and be reliable under distraction – your dog is not going to be able to listen to you when you need it most.


Fully off leash trained

Here we see a young puppy – Marlo – who is an  11 month old Husky showing how well he functions under distraction – by staying on his place while another dog does her best to get him to come and play with her.  This is Marlo’s 5th lesson and he is doing great. His owner Elie is very pleased as you can see by the grin on his face as looks on his dog with pride.  The gentleman in the ball cap with the female asked if they can approach us and of course we obliged since it was a great test for Marlo.





A well trained dog is a thing of beauty

There is a lady walking her 2 small dogs  by in the background as well who has stopped to admire Marlo and was even taking pictures of him.  Marlo’s owner tells me he regularly has people stop and ask about his dog and comment on how well behaved he is.

Springtime equals distraction training

Cow Clara Hughes Dog Training
My dog Cow a.k.a. Clara Hughes doing her “Put Em Up’ Command on a NYPD van in the middle of the financial distratict in Manhattan, NYC. You need a high level of trust in your dog’s abilities to obey and focus to remove a leash and know they’ll perform under such circumstances.

It looks like we are enjoying an early spring or at least a preview of what is to come.With springtime come distractions that were dormant durting our long sleepy winters. More poeople and dogs are out. Squirrels. More scents to explore.Many people find thir dogs coming to life this time of year and it is a great opportunity to work on your dog’s distraction training.Here are some ideas for you to help you improve your dog’s ability to focus under distraction:

Dog Training with Distractions - Pro Tip:

Find a location that allows you to work with your dog at a distance from a distraction. It could be a dog park or an area where people walk their dogs - you know your dog best - whatever is a distracting environment for your dog will work for our purposes.Pick an excercise that your dog knows well - it could be as simple as a sit stay or heel - it doesnt even matter what the excercise is - but make sure t is simthing your dog is familiar with so that she is comfrtable in her work - becasue distractions add pressure to thew work.Ask your dog to perform and encourage with praise and treats or play. Release - and rewards your dog.Repeat the excercise.

How to make distraction training easier for your dog

If your dog is having a hard time - work further away from the distractions and gradually increase the proximity when your dog is performing with ease. Think of the proximity to distractions like a volume dial - the closer you get to them - they louder they are to your dog.One last tip - don’t rush this training. if I see one very common mistake - it is the lack of time taken to develop a skill before trying to rush the dog to perform at what the owner feels should be the dog’s level of difficulty. It is better to prgress slowly and inside the dog;s comfort zone - building skills and confidence as well as trust in the training and the handler. One hand washes the other with this aproach and it not only builds obedience but also helps build trust and confidnce.

Cow off leash demonstrating great focus in Manhattan NYC practicing her “Get in Line” with tons of traffic and lots of people walking around.