Originally Posted by KentuckyGSDLover
I read someplace not to play tug with your dog because they invariably "win."
I've heard that too. I think it represents a fairly antagonistic view of the human-dog relationship. Your dog shouldn't be allowed to run away with the toy and self-satisfy on it, but he should be able to "win" the toy briefly, and bring it right back because you're the source of all the fun.
So if he's having a really good tug session and is super engaged, and is showing all the energy and strength that you want, it's OK to let go of the tug, and let him prance around with it for a few seconds, victorious. Then, he should come right back to you to play all over again. That to me, is a win-win.
If you never let your dog win, he might not want to play with you as much (would you want to play with someone who never let you win?). Or, on the occasions where he has grip of the toy, he may try to run away with it because he knows he won't get it at the end of the game. Never letting him win places an artificial value on the toy by depriving him of it. The point of tug shouldn't be about the toy, it's the interaction between you and your dog.
I really like how Michael Ellis trains on this. His view is that your dog should see the tug as valuable only because it's a vehicle of engagement with you in this fun game that you play together. It's not like a bully stick that he wants to go chew on for hours by himself.
Before you can have really positive tug games, you need a solid foundation of engagement, and your dog must be reliable on the "out" command. Some people start playing tug before the foundation work, and that makes it harder to have good tug sessions.
I highly recommend the Michael Ellis DVD on playing tug with your dog. That might be the best of all his DVDs. It is very, very good.