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.

How do you train a 140 pound aggressive dog

Carefully and thoroughly.

Grover weighs over 140 pounds and is both heavier and more powerful than his owner.
He is dog aggressive and has attacked other dogs resulting in serious injury.

Grover is at the end of his training program and he has done great.
Here he is with his owner walking around Dr Penfield Park - with all the dogs runniing free and with several of them not only approaching but following him and trying to interact with him.

Dog owner and dog aggressive dog working together for the 1st time in Montreal Dog Park.

Dog aggression, Montreal dog trainer, dog training, behavioural problems

Sheryl opted for an in home intensive training program to help Grover get past his issues with other dogs and it took us 2 weks from start to stop. This is Sheryl’s first lesson with Grover at the end of his course an they are off to a great start.

Sheryl does a great job and you can see how well Groveri responds to her. No change of body language at all when the dogs get up close and personal - and his focus is unflappable. Really great.

Did I mention it is their first time working together right after Grover’s training?

To add to things further - I am following them to give instructions and film and Grover is ignoring me - even though he spent 2 weeks glued to my side - and totally in Sheryl’s hands.

Trust your dog and his/her training

The reason we are at a dog park with a dog aggressive dog is to prove how controllable he is when other dogs come into his space. We would never purposely put another dog at any risk - and have taken every precaution - more than we need in fact to ensure things are ok. Grover’s behaviour is proof positive that the training has been succesfull and his attitude really shines and tells us all we need to know.
He trusts his owner and his training and even though he does not like other dogs getting into his space - there is no shift in behaviour nor any change in his body language when dogs approach him. He trusts his training and feels very safe working with Sheryl - the way it should be.

We cant control what we are going to encounter with our dogs once we head outside - so we need to build up our training for each person and dog’s specific needs.
Sheryl needs to know that Grover is well trained enough

A lovely review from Grover’s owner about her experience with Family K9 Dog Training

“Incredible! This was the forth time I have worked with Nick. This last time was to train my 140 lb Anatolian Sheppard who had become aggressive with other dogs over the past two years. I should have nipped his aggression in the bud right away but I kept on deluding myself to believe that I could control this and make it right myself. It had gotten to the point where I felt I might have no choice but to put him down and I was dreading every walk with him because I was so afraid he would attack a dog again and hurt both the dog and myself.
I am so glad I called Nick for help. He was incredible! Within three sessions Grover was already on his way to responding to the training. Nick is the consummate professional. He is a pleasure to work with. Always pleasant, very patient not only with the dog but with the owner and a fountain of useful knowledge about dogs and how their minds work. He is also very affectionate with the dog he is training. Grover was happy to see him everyday! On Friday he asked me to shadow him and Grover so I could see the new behaviour before he did the transfer session with me and I was bowled over. If you didn't know you would never guess that Grover has an aggression problem. Yesterday was the transfer lesson and I couldn't believe that I also could work with Grover, that he would respond to my commands and that I was back in control again. Nick adjusted the training to my needs as an owner with a physical handicap and I am so grateful for that. I would recommend him to anyone and everyone. If you the job done properly Nick is your man. Grover and I can't thank him enough!”

** A note about Grover’s muzzle.
He doesn’t need it - in fact in another video with Sheryl’s neighbour and her 2 dogs - you can see Grover working without the use of the muzzle and the dogs a very close by.
BUT - it gives Sheryl a sense of well being and that to me is very important because when the handler feels more confident - they are going to do a better job.
Further, Sheryl has done an excellent job teaching grover that the muzzle is a very positive thing - putting it on before walks and giving him a treat when he is wearing it.
He comes running happily to have it put on. Go Sheryl!

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

Interviewing west island Montreal dog owners - post training.

A chat with Tina after Jack’s training has come to an end. Hear what she has to say about how training transformed jack from a dangerous dog to a well behaved and loved family member.

Rehabilitating rescue dogs in Montreal

It starts like this …

Everything is under control until the dog who used to
only bark and carry on like a silly fool decides to bite. Then it is decision time.


Dog Aggression

Dog aggression can be genetic or can be a learned behaviour or a combination of both - either way - proper training is key. Read More...