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Discussion Starter #1
i did a search but didn't see anything.

i do a lot of tugging w/neb, letting him win, etc. he's turning into a great little tugger, pretty focused i think for his age (8.5 weeks) and he just loves it. he's got a nice little death shake and given his size, he's got a decent grip (i can pick him up when we're tugging w/the sock by the sock, though i generally don't do that b/c i don't want to accidentally pull on his teeth, though maybe i don't need to worry about that).

he has started sometimes to growl while we are tugging.

i am sure it is play growling only, but i just wanted to run this past people. i mean, he's only 8.5 weeks old - i kind of default to play growling - plus the context.
 

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He is just playing
I wouldn't worry about it
 

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I am far from an expert.... but from what I have heard/read you shouldnt play tug of war with your puppy/dog. It promotes aggression. Even if you do, Never let him win as you are alpha. Not sure about the growling. Neither of my 2 dogs have ever growled at me or while I am playing with them.
 

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Agree with Dawn. You've gotten him into a great level of enthusiam with the tug game. And that bodes well as a tool in your training.

Enjoy the tug games.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
yeah, i figured he was just playing. thanks
it's great to see how much he enjoys it.

cindy, i'm doing it to learn about building his drive (or maximizing what he's got) and to build his confidence. my understanding is letting them win makes them confident, not aggressive. from what i've read on other sites and from people posting on here, it's simply a matter of bringing out what they've already got, not creating aggression. i'm also using it so that when he bites/nips, i just redirect to tugging, i haven't been yelping or anything.
 

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Originally Posted By: MebI am far from an expert.... but from what I have heard/read you shouldnt play tug of war with your puppy/dog. It promotes aggression. Even if you do, Never let him win as you are alpha. Not sure about the growling. Neither of my 2 dogs have ever growled at me or while I am playing with them.
I heard and went along the same thing when I started with Kayla. We really did not do tug games her first year. I have since learned from others and discussions on this board that it is not so much not playing tug or winning/losing, it is that you make the call as to when you play tug and when you stop. Building/encouraging that drive and intensity can go a long way in your training program.

It is important to let the dog "win" once in a while so they do not lose their interest up in the game. I let Kayla "win" and she brings whatever we are tugging with right back to me to start all over. I can also tell her to "out" to release the tug toy or end the session.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
neb doesn't win all the time....i want him to want it, and not to make it easy for him. but i do let him win sometimes, and sometimes he just wins.

ruth, yeah - i couldn't see it being anything else. he's so obviously having fun. teagan will growl when playing w/high value toys, but that's teagan being teagan - it's entirely different w/neb.
 

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I play tug with Lucy and almost always let her win on the advice of our trainer. She hasn't shown any aggression at all, ever. Maybe it depends on the dog?
Interestingly she will growl when she tugs with my boys but not with me. The youngest's favorite game is to tow her around on her bed on the hardwood floor
 

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Discussion Starter #11
i try to have neb win more often than he loses - my goal is that he win about 75% of the time.

should i let him ALWAYS win? i just don't want to make it too easy for him - i want to bring out his drive and confidence, but i want him to be able to come right back after something hard and go after the toy we're tugging with. i want him to be confident but also be able to handle adversity (i know, losing a game of tug....not the most adverse thing in the world) and keep going - that he'll keep going for it until he gets it, basically.
 

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I don't get the whole alpha never let them win thing? Malley loves to play tug and I try and do a 50/50 win with her. She's so happy with herself after she wins.
She always brings it right back to my hand when she wins and I do the same to her when I win.

IMHO, I would think never letting them win would be worse for confidence and agression????
 

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my first shepherd Sasha was a tugaholic - she loved playing that - and if i remember correctly (s'been years since she was a pup and is now gone) .. she growled every time - she was very vocal ...

Now if I could get one of the boys to play - they never play tug with me
.... i'm tug deprived ....

sigh
 

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Quote: I don't get the whole alpha never let them win thing?
This comes from people who think being Alpha means that you FORCE everything to what you want----totally false. Being alpha is just a calm, in control attitude. You direct, not force. You become alpha, by giving praise for correct responses, and corrections and discouragement to wrong responses. Alpha's are patient, calm, in control of themselves and situations. True alphas don't have to strain to get attention and response----it is a matter of being a guide to situations---the dogs will naturally look to you for direction, and with habit over time, simply follow your direction because that is what they are in the habit of doing. Many people have to learn how to be an alpha---a few just seem to have it inborn in their nature.

Growling while playing is perfectly normal.

Nobody likes to play a game that they can never win. Dogs included.
 

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I play tug with Juli and let her win to build confidence as advised by my trainer. She sometimes lets out a little growl when she is playing but she is pretty vocal with her squeeky toy anyway and is not agressive. I don't agree with the alpha theory of not letting them win.
 

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Dante won at tug, does most of the time now 'cause he's stronger than me

But I did make sure he knew the "Give" command
 

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Originally Posted By: MebI am far from an expert.... but from what I have heard/read you shouldnt play tug of war with your puppy/dog. It promotes aggression. Even if you do, Never let him win as you are alpha. Not sure about the growling. Neither of my 2 dogs have ever growled at me or while I am playing with them.
+1 I agree. Tug games reduce bit inhibition, and lead to dominance issues (potentially). I will hold a toy while he chews it, but I don't let him turn it into tug of war.

Growling can be very playful - but can also escalate. You should learn what the growl means... what body language is being displayed?
 

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Everyone has their opinions but one thing I do want to throw out there is that for a time Dante was NOT food motivated (And yes I tried it all) but he'd do ANY THING for a game of tug!!!!! Huge motivator for training, still is!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
His body language is playful, not at all dominant. I have a female who can become aggressive over possession issues with high-value toys, and I have to be very careful with her - she's completely different.

People raising working puppies tug with their dogs all the time, and it's not like all of those dogs are alpha - they're simply confident. That's what I'm trying to do w/Neb and to learn to build drive effectively.

edit to add: I've worked with a dog - my female - who has some rank issues but is not in my opinion dominant - it is just my opinion, but if you give your dog structure and consistency w/leadership, tugging is not going to somehow make you less of a leader or develop a dog that is alpha and will challenge you for the top role.
 
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