German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

I'm losing patience with my dog. I feel I am trying my hardest to play tug with him. I am jumping around and trying to make the tug look interesting. I feel he knows what I want. He takes the tug from me sometimes, but does this very softly. I could take it out of his mouth by pulling easily. I have been trying to get him to tug for a couple months now and its exhausting. He just kind of mouths the tug and loses interest. If I let him do what he wants, he would just sniff around and mark everywhere.

He definitely has a bunch of energy. His protection instincts are pretty high. His prey drive seems to be high too. Sometimes I use a jute shammee on a flirt pole. He chases it like crazy, and he bites hard. We play tug a little harder with the shammee, but he's really not tugging too hard. The thing that bothers me most is that if he doesn't get enough energy out of his system, then he just paces around my apartment whining. I am more than ready to play with the him for a couple hours a day. It just isn't interesting for me to walk around while he sniffs and marks.

Did anyone else have this problem? I am looking on the internet and every article is about how good tug is for building a relationship. I really just want a great relationship with my dog. But when he acts so uninterested I lose patience and quit playing and end his time outside. My dog is 16 months and I'm wondering if he's going through his "rebellious" stage. We are currently enrolled in our second obedience class. He knows many commands and is one of the best in class. The class is helping him not to fixate on other dogs and focus on me. With time will this pass? I just get frustrated because I'm trying so hard to play with him and I just want a little enthusiasm out of him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
One last thing, as a puppy he would tug like a madman. When he started teething, I stopped playing tug to protect his teeth. After he finished teething, its like he lost all interest in tug. He does tug on a blanket or towel if I wave it around. Just no intense tugging sessions like other GSDs I have seen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,863 Posts
My girl doesn't like to play tug with a regular tug either. She will tug the life out of the lure on the end of her flirt pole but if we try to play tug with a rope or other tug toy she will just walk away. She isn't a chewer either unless it's a real stick. She does like to play frisbee and soccer though.
Sounds like it's jsut not your dogs thing. Maybe change things up and play scent games. Frisbee, soccer/kickball fetch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
My girl doesn't like to play tug with a regular tug either. She will tug the life out of the lure on the end of her flirt pole but if we try to play tug with a rope or other tug toy she will just walk away. She isn't a chewer either unless it's a real stick. She does like to play frisbee and soccer though.
Sounds like it's jsut not your dogs thing. Maybe change things up and play scent games. Frisbee, soccer/kickball fetch.
My dog does the same. We can tug on a stick very hard. He loves fetch and tugs on the frisbee. He tugged so hard on the frisbee and tore it up, which led me to get a french linen tug. It’s just he has endless energy and fetch doesn’t really exhaust him. I heard that tug is more exhausting and builds focus on the owner. I must’ve gotten it in my head that tug is the ultimate game. I guess I should look for other energy outlets for him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
635 Posts
Some dogs are really choosey at least at first on what they’ll play tug with so trying different toys can be necessary if you really want him to play tug.

Also do you let him win? That’s what I read into when I was struggling with one of my dogs. Regularly let them win by letting go when they pull back, teach them that they can win the toy. Don’t just randomly drop it though it’s when they actually pull back.

With our female dog that we had to teach to play if she grabbed the tug I’d literally run up and down the yard with her while she held onto it, to make it fun. No tugging at first just running with her while we both held it.

There are also a lot of different types of games to play maybe looking into those would help? If you and he like fetch you can hide multiple toys and have him find them. If you’re in an area with shed hunting that could be an opportunity.

There are other things besides tug out there so just keep that in mind. He probably needs more than a walk and tug, something more engaging for his brain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
345 Posts
I really don't see the importance of playing tug in building a real relationship with a dog. But here's what I've learned:

My adult son comes twice per week to visit and take my rescue GSD to hike, dog parks, truck rides, errands, etc.

What I've observed is that my dog now ADORES my son. I'm sure she would love to live with him full time. WHY?

Because he has inadvertently build a very loving, kind, positive relationship w/ this dog without really trying. HOW?

1- He acts like he lOVES this dog and acts like she's so special. Lots of pats, rubbing, joking, Plus he talks to her

all the time. A bystander would think he's talking with a friend or toddler. She eats it right up. He's not just with her

but engaged with her, body and soul. She acts like his shadow. Follows him everwhere. Watches his movements

and is so in tune with him, it's amazing.

So I think you have to balance out the discipline and obedience w/ just hangin out. Just talking with your dog.

It's the simple things that build a relationship. Be more observant of your dog. Talk more. Laugh more.

And let you dog guide you as to their pleasures.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Some dogs are really choosey at least at first on what they’ll play tug with so trying different toys can be necessary if you really want him to play tug.

Also do you let him win? That’s what I read into when I was struggling with one of my dogs. Regularly let them win by letting go when they pull back, teach them that they can win the toy. Don’t just randomly drop it though it’s when they actually pull back.

With our female dog that we had to teach to play if she grabbed the tug I’d literally run up and down the yard with her while she held onto it, to make it fun. No tugging at first just running with her while we both held it.

There are also a lot of different types of games to play maybe looking into those would help? If you and he like fetch you can hide multiple toys and have him find them. If you’re in an area with shed hunting that could be an opportunity.

There are other things besides tug out there so just keep that in mind. He probably needs more than a walk and tug, something more engaging for his brain.
I think you’re right. I took the tug out last night and just ran around with it and him. He actually took it and held onto it. Also we started playing and I let him win. I was very dramatic and acted like I fell onto the floor when he won. He does act like he get bored quickly. I’ll take your advice and incorporate tug into fun activities and not worry about perfect tug yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
462 Posts
You said playing fetch doesn't tire him, have you tried throwing the ball/frisbee into a patch of tall grass and having him search for it? Lots of times, just using their nose can wear them out.

You could try a foam frisbee too - Starmark makes one Durafoam Frisbee I think - I was using one for obedience since it allowed me to use my boy's favorite toy as a reward and I could play tug with him. I'm a horribly boring person to play with apparently, but that's okay. I'm trying to improve.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I really don't see the importance of playing tug in building a real relationship with a dog. But here's what I've learned:

My adult son comes twice per week to visit and take my rescue GSD to hike, dog parks, truck rides, errands, etc.

What I've observed is that my dog now ADORES my son. I'm sure she would love to live with him full time. WHY?

Because he has inadvertently build a very loving, kind, positive relationship w/ this dog without really trying. HOW?

1- He acts like he lOVES this dog and acts like she's so special. Lots of pats, rubbing, joking, Plus he talks to her

all the time. A bystander would think he's talking with a friend or toddler. She eats it right up. He's not just with her

but engaged with her, body and soul. She acts like his shadow. Follows him everwhere. Watches his movements

and is so in tune with him, it's amazing.

So I think you have to balance out the discipline and obedience w/ just hangin out. Just talking with your dog.

It's the simple things that build a relationship. Be more observant of your dog. Talk more. Laugh more.

And let you dog guide you as to their pleasures.
This reminds me of my relationship with my parents mastiff/lab mix. All we do is have fun when I come in town. I think I may have been a little strict when my dog was growing up. He bit on ankles a lot, tore up carpet, and other stuff that I had to correct. I played with him a lot but it was like his mind didn’t stop so I had to correct him when he got into trouble. He’s a great dog now so I’m working on building a “play” relationship. He listens very well but I think he sees me more as an authority figure. I think I just need to be more silly with him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
You said playing fetch doesn't tire him, have you tried throwing the ball/frisbee into a patch of tall grass and having him search for it? Lots of times, just using their nose can wear them out.

You could try a foam frisbee too - Starmark makes one Durafoam Frisbee I think - I was using one for obedience since it allowed me to use my boy's favorite toy as a reward and I could play tug with him. I'm a horribly boring person to play with apparently, but that's okay. I'm trying to improve.
We had the rubber Kong frisbee but that tore up after a month. I’ll try the durafoam. Great idea with tall grass. I really think I’m not engaging his mind and challenging his intelligence enough. I’ve never had a GSD. I got him to be a running/hiking companion, but I came to love the breed and want to experience everything he has to offer.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
74 Posts
Hello Studdardpaul!

Josie is 17 months, we have been incorporating tug sessions into our routine.
I am new to the breed and it has been a WHILE since I've raised a puppy so I am trying to learn much as I can for Josie.
In the past my idea of 'tug' was me holding onto the toy and Josie biting the toy while it was in my hand, me taking away the toy = tug.

I found this to be helpful:


as well as Michael Ellis' course on The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog.

Now I know what it means to let your dog 'win'. Our sessions last no longer than 5 minutes, we are both panting at that point lol. Also I end the session before she starts losing interest or trying to take possession vs bringing it back.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,853 Posts
The thing about dogs is that they are individuals. We have a tendency to lump them into a group and treat them all in a similar manner. What works with one should work with another.

A dogs' currency is their own.

Another thing is that if you are frustrated, your dog knows that and it could effect your relationship and his willingness to play a challenge type game like tug.

Take him to a club and see if he will tug with a helper. You will learn a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
I kind of doubt it's a relationship thing, he just hasn't grown to love tug. It's my understanding this can be taught. The guy from Controlled Aggression (working dog podcast) talks about teaching green dogs who have certain behaviors to like new things (like tug, or grabbing pvc or metal). Unfortunately, I don't know how.

My boy is 16 months too. He LOVES the frisbee, really enjoys the ball and flirt stick, and only tugs a little better than yours. He also prefers to grab the rope instead of the rubber part (once he got my finger and I had to go to the doctor).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
I've been working with my dog to get him to play tug and he's been a bit indifferent about it, too. I really want him to enjoy playing tug so I can use it as a reward for obedience. He started out just kind of holding the tug in his mouth and letting me pull him around with no action on his part. Now he will play tug decently well and gives me some nice jerks on the tug and throws his head around if he's really into it. He's still not super into it (not like he is with fetch), but I plan to keep working on it with him and hopefully convince him it's as much fun as fetch.

To second Bramble's suggestion about the Michael Ellis tug video and the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy toys class, I've done both and they've both given me some good ideas for developing his tugging. I think Michael's Ellis' video is really good for the mechanics of tug and the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy class is great for showing dogs in different stages of development with tugging and giving suggestions on what to do.

I think a big part of it is figuring out when your dog is most eager to play and trying to capitalize on that. My dog is super eager to play in the morning, so I would bring out the tug and try to get him engaged for just a minute or two. Then I'd quit while he was still interested and do something else. Keeping the session short should hopefully leave the dog wanting more, keep you from getting frustrated, and then you can gradually increase the length of the session as your dog (hopefully) gets more interested.

Beau (my dog) also loves his flirt pole and I have used that to tug with him which I think helps. One thing which you may or may not want to do is try incorporating tug into fetch. I know a lot of people don't like to do that - and I can see why since getting my dog to drop the ball during fetch became a challenge - but I do think it helped with his interest in playing tug. When he came back with the toy during fetch and I tried to take the ball and he would pull back a little I'd say "yes!" which is his marker word. After a little bit of this he would get more serious about tugging. Fair warning, it's probably not a good idea to mix tug and fetch unless you don't mind going back a few steps in your fetch game and having to reteach your dog to drop it like I've had to do.

Anyway, that was a long post to essentially say I'm in a similar boat with my dog and I've had some success by keeping tug sessions short, practicing tug when he's most energetic and ready to play, and taking advantage of things he already enjoys. It's been a pretty slow process (months, actually), but I have seen progress. I'm not sure he'll ever be a super tugger, but I'm going to keep trying.
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top