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Hello everyone, I have a question regarding tugging.

Richter is a 20 week old GSD who is a prospective SAR dog with a local team whom we have been training (just simple runaways because of his age) with, his handler being myself. I want to use tugging as a reward later on down the road and I'm laying the foundation work now. We have tugging sessions to develop prey and play drive along with engagement and focus.

We currently live with two older (4 and 7 yrs, non working) Labs, he gets along with them great and loves them. He really likes to tug with them too.

My questions are, Should I allow him to tug with the labs? Should I discourage and/or correct the behavior with having him tug with me or shifting his focus elsewhere? Will or would this be a detriment in the future?

When we (pup and myself) tug, we have a specific tug toy right now that we use, that toy is only used for when we tug and it isn't available any other time. The other dogs will use their toys to tug with each other.

I might be over thinking this, but any and all input is appreciated.
 

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I don't see why you can't tug with him as long as he loves it. You may want to try and keep it special. I once saw a documentary on SAR and the very-well-trained dog got a tug as a reward.
 

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I personally do not see the issue, other than that of which is playing with other dogs could cause more strong bonding to them than to you. I've never experienced it and think that small sessions of play with each other are fine, but some people are very strict about it.
 

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Honestly, I think if the dog has the right level of drives you don't need to "withold" the tug to get them to work, because they simply love the hunt, but I do reserve the tug for use as a reward toy nonetheless.

I think folks are divided on how much play time the working SAR dog should spend playing with other dogs, even in its own pack. Up until Grim passed away I always had multiples but they were not engaged in playing with each other even though they hung out with each other. They just didn't and maybe because they were raised that way and had no interest in it as adults. Our main social interaction as a group was long offlead walks together and short periods of supervised play.

Now it is just me and Beau and all his play is with me.

Talk with the folks on the team and see what they think. They are the ones who can actually assess his drives, comment if they see he is not really ramped up about the toy (at 20 weeks, expect some tender mouth times coming) etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all of the replies!

Talk with the folks on the team and see what they think
Excellent point and I will. He was assessed but the lead trainer and his drive levels need to come up some, but he is still a young pup and possibly a late bloomer.


other than that of which is playing with other dogs could cause more strong bonding to them than to you
This is my biggest apprehension with them playing together, but I know my place in his life.


Well let me be specific, I am the "go-to guy" if he needs to eat, go out, receive structure, work, and structured play he knows that and I know that. However one of the Labs Fenway (the older one) plays with him constantly, they're great together but that's all they are pure playmates. But it seems like Richter enjoys play with Fenway more than me (to a point).

I guess what I'll have to do is until I have full engagement from Richter to limit the amount of play time that he and Fenway have together, and make play time with me more frequent and more exciting if that's at all possible :D
What do you guys think?
 

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Sounds like a good plan.
 

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Tugging is a great way to reward a dog. Of course it should be fun but there needs to be some discipline in the way it is done. Train your dog to only take the toy when it is presented to him and he is given permission to take it. That will prevent accidental collisions between teeth and flesh. This is especially important since you should have your subjects doing the rewarding and they may not be familiar with your dog's manners. Also train a good 'out'. You don't want to have to fight or wait a long time to get the toy back when needed. You decide when the session starts and stops. For these reasons I suggest that you should be the one training the rules of tugging sessions, not your other dogs.
 

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When you control the game of tug with your own dog you can influence it when it is playing with other dogs. You simply tell the dog 'off' and the dog should let go of the tug.

If the excitement of the game is too much for your dog then it will not stop when you tell it, then it is good to work on playing tug just you and the dog until it learns more.

In your case if you want to lure your dog away from the other dogs then it is cool to offer the tug as reward for the dog coming back to you and focusing on you.

Once the dog gets into it you can more easily motivate him to stay by you when in groups of dog or people. I think it is a strong tool to use. If you don't do it with him he will try to play more with other dogs. The same with food. If you don't treat them they will look for food and when they find it they won't listen to you. They will follow there noses. Develop tracking to satisfy the dogs desire to search for things. Simply if you give them food and tug on your terms the dog will be more obedient to you.
 
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