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.

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom anywhere and at anytime

Bulldog playing
Clara’s stomping grounds

Housetraining your puppy or older dog can be an exhausting excercise in frustration or it can be reltively simple and worry free.

The difference?Have a plan and execute that plan.We all know that having a schedule and supervising and using a crate are necessary steps. But what about getting your dog to go on command? What about a dog who has a habit of only going to the bathroom under specific conditions i.e. on the snow (winter puppy owners - you know what I mean!), or only going when off leash or in a specific spot.

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom on command

You aren’t actually teaching your dog to go to the bathroom. They are born with the ability to do this.You are teaching them to associate going on command.So - use the words you’d like them to associate i.e. “hurry up” “do your business” etc … when you see them starting to go. Do this over and over for as long as it takes - until you can successfully get your dog to go on command just like Cow does in the video below. (I use Hurry Up with my dog Cow and you’ll notive in the video when I tell her to Hurry Up - she goes right away)

Teach your dog to go to the bathroom anywhere On Command

Many dogs have bathroom habits - some like to go in the busjhes - some have a favorite place - or need a complete preamble of circling and sniffing relesntlessly. Sometimes we want them to just hurry up and go where we are right now so we can move on with our day.If you have a spot you would like your dog to go to the bathroom - bring your dog to that spot repeadtedly - maybe you will get lucky nad that is all it will take.In most cases it is exactly that simple.What you can do is bring your dog to the spot and give your dog a minute or two and keep them moving in the general area. If they dont go to the bathroom - bring them back inside. Either supervise or crate your dog for a little while - 15-30 minutes if you feel your dog actually had a need to go before - dont push too hard - we dont want to stress the dog - just give them a little bit of a stronger urge to go to the bathroom. Of course this is only for dogs who do not have housebreaking issues - since we dont want to invite accidents. If your dog is not fully housebroken - do not attempt this.

Potty train your dog
A 10 minute walk to get to this spot just wasn’t cutting it

Bring your dog back out to the same spot. Remember to keep your dog moving around.Repeat as needed until your dog is going to the bathroom where you’d like.It really is that simple.The video below is quite frankly gross - but it makes a point. My dog Clara Hughes a.k.a. Cow is a country dog. She lives on several acres and runs off leash at home. She rings her bells to go outside and has complete freedom.The video was shot in NYC and I taught her to go to the bathroom @ the curb in one afternoon - and was done becasue the nearest greenspot (see picture above) was a couple of blocks away. Cow’s pfront paws turn inwatrds and walking for extended periods on pavement cause her to have torn paw pads. It also isnt very convenient to have to walk for 10 minutes before the dog can relieve itself first thing in the morning.So I used the above approach and taught her to go on the street near our hotel.This isnt just a case of teaching a dog to go somewhere it isnt used to - i.e. replacing grass with street - but also changing a multitude of other conditions: • Grass Vs Street • Leash Vs No Leash • Quiet countryside Vs Urban Jungle

Like any other aspect of dog training - patience and persistence are key. The end result is a dog that can go to the bathroom anytime and anywhere - which is great and makes travelling as well as daily living for both owner and dog much more convenient.

Choose your trainer wisely

Dog Training, K9 School, school for dogs, Dog training scams, bad dog trainers

This morning I spoke with two different dog owners who already spent their money on training courses that left them feeling flat and they both abandoned the courses towards the end. Of course now - they are skeptical of dog training in general which makes for an interesting conversation for me since the next trainer they speak to is under a magnifiying glass.

Yelling, Barking and throwing discs at your puppy

or “I spent money on worthless dog training”

Caller #1 has a Shiba Inu puppy and was horrified at the thought of having to bark at her 3 1/2 month old puppy, use a choke chain and throw discs at it. When she challenged the trainer about this - and pointed out that her dog’s tail was tucked and he was in a corner - he told her “don’t worry - he’s fine”. She called the head of the franchise and gave them heck for what she felt was false advertising. They told her to keep doing what she was instructed to. Of course she knew better than to believe that line when she saw how upset her dog was - she trusted her eyes and cancelled the course.

I wish she would have seen these dog training videos in order to know exactly what I could have done to help her with her puppy:

Sasuke - Shiba Inu off leash trained - off leash on a busy road.

Jackson - 5 month old Doberman Puppy brought to Nick all the way from Boston fully trained

Julia and Cody - a 6 month old dog - fully off leash trained and working with the youngest in the family for the 1st time.

Jello - a 6 month old Weimeraner puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Riley - a 5 month old Husky puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Lola 1 - a 5 month old Boston terrier puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Lola 2 - working with her owners for the 1st time

Finn - a 5 month old Havanese puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Betty - 5 month old Toy Poddle puppy fully on and off leash trained by Nick

Porscha - a 5 month old Cane Corso puppy (who looks like a pony!) fully on and off lkeash trained by Nick

Angus - a wonderful labradoodle who was trained by another trainer and the owner met Nick in a dog park while he was training Baylor and couldnt believe the difference in the two dog’s abilities.

“Get in the corner with your dog “

Another dog owner payed an unreal amount of money for a group class and despite speaking to the trainers beforehand about her concerns about her dog’s behaviour towards other dogs - she was brought into a class full of dogs - not given any real, practical advice on how to handle her dog around other dogs and either told to stay in the corner or told to keep running him through hoops and balance beams.Sound like a plan for success?They then tried to sell her a package of private lessons


I wish she and her family would have watched these dog training videos before choosing the wrong trainer the first time:

Grover video 1 - a 140 plus pound Anatolian Shepherd Mix with Major dog aggression issues fully rehabilitated.

Grover video 2

Grover working with his owner for the first time after Nick’s training

Kaylee - a street dog that was recused and went through prior training only to be told by the trainer that she could never be around other dogs - Check this dog out!

Winston - major dog aggression and another dog and owner who went through prior training and failed, thinking the dog had no hope.

Jack video 1 A Rescue dog from Montreal’s West Island who had bit the neighbour and another behaviourist took several weeks only to be able to handle his paw! Really?!?

Jack Video 2 an interview with his owner post training

Cody - Dog Aggression, people aggression. Had been through prior training, No Results. See him here.

Nyka - Major dog aggression. Fast like a bullet. Had been through other training with an “expert” and still tried to attack dogs every day on his walks.

Good money after bad

I’ll be up front and tell you that I charge more than these people paid for training - BUT at leaast they would have gotten the results they were after with my training and it would have been money well spent intead of money wasted.Now they will have to pay a 2nd time in order to get the results they were hoping for and promised from the start.They both expressed the regret of their decision and reminded me how important it is to “do it once and do it right”.

Choose your dog’s trainer wisely!

I guess to a certain extent I am tooting my own horn and I hope it doesnt come across as arrogant - but I can tell you this after having trained 1000’s of dogs in over 2 decades:Not all trainers are created equally - kust like any other service, professi0n or industry - there are many different levels of “quality” and very often you get what you pay for.Price isn’t the only factor of course but it is an indicator and then you need to do your homework. Also word of mouth is something that I believe in very strongly. I cant tell you how many times I get a call from someone who was out walking their dog having a miserable time with it’s behaviour and they were stopped by one of my clients who offered them my phone nuber or website address.I may or may not hear back from caller number 1, caller number 2 already booked her training program for her dog by the time we ended our conversation. We’ll meet next week and get her dog on track.I completely get the skeptical nature some people have towards dog training in general and especially after they have been burned. No one likes to feel like they’ve been had - I have been there myself and hopefully have learned how to choose wiser the next time.

Choose your trainer wisely - your dog’s future depennds on it.

What's up @ the kennel First week of April 2015

Porsche, Toby and Chipie showing their progress