Tug toys? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Tug toys?

This is a little silly, but I have had problems playing tug with both my current dogs. They tend to "bite up" (adjusting their grip, higher and higher) on whatever tug toy we use, and eventually seem to get a little to close to my hand. I have never been seriously injured--not a scratch, just a bruise here and there. But how do I avoid that?

Boy, do I feel idiotic asking that question. It should be simple and when someone tells me the "trick," I'm going to smack myself (with a wet noodle) for being so dense

Maureen
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 10:10 PM
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Get something long that you can hold with one hand at each end and let the dog bite it in the middle...then when they "bite up" one direction or another, just drop that hand. Also, mix the game up and don't give them so much time to adjust their grip higher and higher...pull them side to side...let them win...if you win a tug, play keep-a-way for a bit.

My dobie would drift up the tug and be in danger of accidentally biting my hand, too...but only if I let her. Just use a toy that gives you more options (dropping one hand while the other stays safe, for instance), be quick, and keep the game moving in different directions (including letting them win) so they get less chance to drift toward your hands.

That's my lay-man's approach to tug, anyhow.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 08:23 AM Thread Starter
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Get something long that you can hold with one hand at each end and let the dog bite it in the middle...then when they "bite up" one direction or another, just drop that hand. Also, mix the game up and don't give them so much time to adjust their grip higher and higher...pull them side to side...let them win...if you win a tug, play keep-a-way for a bit.

My dobie would drift up the tug and be in danger of accidentally biting my hand, too...but only if I let her. Just use a toy that gives you more options (dropping one hand while the other stays safe, for instance), be quick, and keep the game moving in different directions (including letting them win) so they get less chance to drift toward your hands.

That's my lay-man's approach to tug, anyhow.
Thanks; I think that is kind of what I do, and it seems to "interrupt" the game---but that IS the game, if I follow you correctly. I had a dog that would just pull and pull--no adjusting--and maybe it's just that dogs play it differently.

Maureen
Radar, Aussie/BC mix, b. 2/27/2012
Jett, GSD foster pup, b. 7/15/2018
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 08:28 AM
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sometimes it is easier to see, than read about.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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sometimes it is easier to see, than read about.
That is very helpful; thanks!

Maureen
Radar, Aussie/BC mix, b. 2/27/2012
Jett, GSD foster pup, b. 7/15/2018
Madison, WI
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 09:33 AM
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That is very helpful; thanks!
Yeah, it's nice outside and I think I'll go out and play tug with my dogs.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 12:35 PM
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Part of it is teaching the dog to target the tug. Smaller tugs can actually be better for this. You can see in the video that car2ner posted that the people hold the tug on each end with a fairly small area between their hands for the dog to bite, and the tug is only 8" long. If you have a larger tug, just don't give them all of it, present a smaller area for them to target. Once your dogs have learned to target it correctly, you can probably use a longer tug, or hold it on just one end or whatever., and the behavior will hopefully transfer.

I have a very long braided fleece tug to use in flyball, and Cava is learning to grab it while I'm running away from her with my back turned. In this case, a long tug is preferable, something that can be dragged on the ground as you run, but also so there's plenty of room for the dog to grab it without being dangerously close to your hand, lol. Some dogs will still bite up though. I have two Orbee balls on Cava's tug, and I've taught her to target those, like I did with Halo. If Halo missed a ball and got the fleece she'd usually re-grip on a ball on her own, or I'd just say "ball" and she would let got of the fleece and grab a ball. At first I used an Orbee ball on a rope with Halo but that was a little gnarly and she did get my hand a couple of times, so I got the idea of making her a tug with Orbees on it.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 12:43 PM
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Mine likes rubber frisbees, but they can bite up the tug on any size or shape. I also use a ball on a rope. You are safest teaching them where to bite rather than increasing size. I was doing scentwork and my dog was having a lazy day so I amped him first using a tug. He got so excited he jumped and bit at the same time at the top of the toy and nailed my hand. Fortunately it was a scratch wound rather than a puncture and easy to clean out, but awfully painful. As soon as I bandaged it, we started working on where to grab. I also taught him the word “take” so he won’t grab the toy until I’m ready for him. He must wait for permission.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 04:40 PM
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Ouch! I had that happen with the rubber Kong flying disc when my boy was much younger. He got excited and my body language was confusing. He jumped up and caught the disc and my finger and I had to not yell at my boy. I made sure to work on making my movements clearer so he'll know when to join in. It is like two people trying to dance together.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 04:57 PM
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It hurts! My last male rescue was a ball fiend. Once, he grabbed a tennis ball I was holding and squeezed. My fingers were stuck and he would not let go. He didn’t bite down, just squeezed, so I wasn’t injured, but he didn’t ever learn Aus and would not release. So, we walked over to the ball bag and I grabbed several more tennis balls and threw them. He was so excited he released the ball and my fingers. I never did that again. I always threw the ball before he was anywhere near me.
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