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I know this question has probably been asked before, but I have heard so many opinions both ways on this subject, I wanted to ask on this board.

Is playing tug w/a dog who is a pet, not a working dog, ok, or does it set you up for problems? I have an almost 9 month old male GSD pup, who I've had since he was 7 wks old. I use the NILIF philosophy with him. He knows who is boss - he must earn his treats, meals, etc. Occassionally he tries to test me, but I think that's normal 9 month old pup behavior, nothing to worry about, as far as I'm concernd. Is playing tug ok? I bought a tug toy for him months ago, and have not even opened the package. I was just playing with him with one of his toys, and realized I was basically playing tug (which a Holee Roller toy)
. So I figured, if I always win, and dictate when we play, and when we stop, we probably wouldn't have any problems.

What do you think? Tug or not?

P.S. I forgot to mention I have 3 kids - 2, 4 and 6 yrs old, and they are not, and will not, be allowed to play tug with him for obvious reasons....and they know this. Plus, they are always supervised w/Kodee. If I can't supervise them, he's crated, or in a room w/me with the baby gate up. Just FYI.
 

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Sounds to me like you have things well in hand. I see no reason why you cant play tug with him. I do it with sarge all the time and as you say, he understands whos in charge and when the game ends. Maybe someone else will have a problem with it but I just dont see it.

Have fun!!!
 

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I believe it was Jean Donaldson in her book <u>Culture Clash</u> who basically stated she has yet to see dogs in a 'dominance battle' while playing tug. Whether it's on a prey animal they're bringing down or a rope toy.


I think as long as the rules are clear that tug is a WONDERFUL bonding game to play with your dog. Ris and I play tug all the time. It's a great confidence booster too.
 

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Yes, playing tug is okay. You can also use it

I not only play tug with Kayla at home, I use short tug periods as awards and breaks (mixed up with food treats and praise) during training sessions in both obedience and agility. And I do let her "win" occasionally. Just let go of my end and let her romp for a moment or toss it ahead for her to run to and grab. She knows when I say "out" it's time to let go and get back to work or move on to something else.
 

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Originally Posted By: Murphy-ElperroguapoI believe it was Jean Donaldson in her book <u>Culture Clash</u> who basically stated she has yet to see dogs in a 'dominance battle' while playing tug. Whether it's on a prey animal they're bringing down or a rope toy.


I think as long as the rules are clear that tug is a WONDERFUL bonding game to play with your dog. Ris and I play tug all the time. It's a great confidence booster too.
I was going to mention the same book. Even when I didn't like the book as a whole I agree with that part.

Just forget the part about not letting him to win... Where is the fun then?!! This is a team game, let him win and give him opportunity to seek you for more playing. The resource problems I've seen in dogs playing tug are all caused by the owner continuously frustrating the dog.
 

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I play tug with my dogs and *gasp* I let them play tug with each other! They actually have free access to all of their toys.
 

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I always played tug with my dogs and let them win sometimes. Haven't had many problems with them knowing who the boss is (Luther, to the day he died, took a knee to the chest every day for shoving me into door frames trying to get through first)
 

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i have a 9 month old boy and we play tug. i don't use the NILIF. every now and then i'll give him a treat for nothing. if he brings me his ball to play i play. i'm not into that dominate the dog. i partner with my dogs right now he's laying at my feet. should i move him because he decided to lay close to me? when i get up from my desk i have to step over him. should i move him to show dominance? why do i need to make my dog do something when it's meal time? one time he pulled a towel off the line. instead of correcting him we played tug. he never pulled anything else off of the line. sometimes when we're playing fetch i'll play tug with his ball before asking him to drop. when i say "drop it" he does and i throw it and he brings it back, drops it. as far as who's the boss, well i bring him his food twice a day, i pay for the vet bills, i pay for his toys, i take him to the dog park (while he rides in the back of the wagon, i open and close doors for him, i paid for his education, i take him for walks in the woods so i think dogs that are taken care of probably like their place. playing tug, does it really matter if it's a pet or working dog. as far as me always winning tug, i don't. sometimes i let him have it. when i'm finished playing i just let go of the toy and say "no more" at which point he drops the tug and waits for me to pick it up and take it in the house or carry it back to the car. oh yeah, my dog is from a show line and everybody has Schutzhund III. mine won't, he's a pet that works in his on way. play tug and watch your fingers.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm glad some of you mentioned that I should let him win. I had the impression that you shouldn't, which is part of the reason I hadn't played tug w/him before. I don't want to frustrate him, either. As far as NILIF, I maybe should have said NMILIF (Not Much in Life is Free). LOL! I do play w/him without making everything a "lesson", and I will feed him, whether he behaves that day or not
- Just wanted to make the point that in most ways, I know he knows I'm the pack leader, but I don't beat him to death with it. I'm not going to shove my dog out of my way when I get up and he's at my feet
I hope I didn't give that impression, DoggieDad.


Thanks all for the advice - I will be breaking out the tug toy tonight!
 

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There's subtle ways to show him you are the pack leader. Let him see you bring home the food and put it away. As a lesser pack member, he eats after you do. Treats can be had just because they're yummy and he's very cute! Try not to let him walk through the door first - my knee still hurts from enforcing that law of nature on a very dominant dog!
 

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My dog Lucy's favorite thing in the world is playing tug. We play everyday with a rope, balls, bones, and even my fingers.(I grab her canines with my fingers and pull. She doesn't bite, just pulls back with her mouth open.) I get the biggest kick out of watching her try to encourage other dogs to play with her. Most of them just don't get it. She holds whatever it is she's playing with in front of their face and tries to get them to grab it from her. She's never shown any aggressivness or possiveness while playing tug. The minute she "wins" she's right back ready to play some more.
 

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Originally Posted By: KodeeGirlI'm glad some of you mentioned that I should let him win. I had the impression that you shouldn't, which is part of the reason I hadn't played tug w/him before. I don't want to frustrate him, either. As far as NILIF, I maybe should have said NMILIF (Not Much in Life is Free). LOL! I do play w/him without making everything a "lesson", and I will feed him, whether he behaves that day or not
- Just wanted to make the point that in most ways, I know he knows I'm the pack leader, but I don't beat him to death with it. I'm not going to shove my dog out of my way when I get up and he's at my feet
I hope I didn't give that impression, DoggieDad.


Thanks all for the advice - I will be breaking out the tug toy tonight!
It's less about winning and more about controlling the game. Even if you let him win, it can be a downer to the dog b/c he probably doesn't want the tug, he wants to be tugging with you, if that makes sense. What's more important than who wins is developing a release/out/drop/give command so that you *can* end the game if you need to. Our dog Coke loves to tug, so during the game I stop abruptly and say "out!" If he quickly releases the tug, he is rewarded with getting it back and playing another round. I don't want him to associate the "out" command with a negative thing: the game ending. If I say "out!" and he does not obey, I drop the tug, turn my back, and fold my arms. So technically he just "won" the tug, but really he lost b/c now I've stopped playing and to him that is enough punishment to understand that he should have let go when I said so.
 

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I play tug with Tosca all the time. With her it's not a dominance issue, it's just a game. I let her win the toy often and she just brings it right back to me to play some more.
 

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you want to think for your own interest that your dog thinks your the pack leader. like i said you do everything for your dog. you feed him, you take him to the dog part(while he sits in the back of the car), you take care of his med needs, you take him for walks, you take him to the dog parks, you walk him when you think it's on your time(it doesn't matter to him when you walk him, he adjusts to your times), you ask him to perform some behavior that you want, well he's trained to do that, so he'll do it whether you treat him or not and you don't really know he thinks your the pack leader because you do everything for him. the dogs that are well taken care of probably like where they are with their place, think about it. we wnat to feel that we dominate our dogs for what? partnering with our dogs is where it's at.
 

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I think for the most part its ok, I do it all the time. I have seen some dogs that might take it to far, but thats more the owners fault for not controlling the game to begin with...plus with some of the dog/owners ive met...tug is the least of their problems.

I think used correctly it can be a great tool to help a dog become more confident in itself.

our mix buddy was/is like this..hes not fear aggressive and he really loves people and other animals....im working with him on teaching him how to be more confident in himself and approach people/dogs in a NICE manner, his last owners just never taught him anything and to be honest never liked him....they were gonna dump him at the pound because he was to scruffy!!!

neways....tug has been good for him. I control the game and I let him win sometimes and he after awhile got the sence that 'he, i can do something and not get in trouble!'

its not been a problem for us and we are slowly making progress with other things, all thanks to tug!
 

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I wish my GSD would play tug. I took him to a protection class a long time ago and he would neither play tug nor jump on the Sch trainer. So Ihave to play tug with my neighbor's dog, a black lab named Abby.

Seriously, some of the books I have read say if you play tug with your dog, you must win the majority of the time --- in my opinion BS.
 

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Originally Posted By: GSDolch
I think used correctly it can be a great tool to help a dog become more confident in itself.
ABSOLUTELY!!! This is a wonderful use of tug games.
 

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The animal shelter I adopted Dynamo from hands out generic flyers that stated not to play tug. I've been to classes that either discouraged or banned tug. I had to get special permission to reward with tug in some group agility classes (I take private lessons now) so I know where the idea of tug as a bad game comes from. I too started out not letting Dynamo win when I finally started playing tug. As a consequence, she still doesn't play tug like a fire demon, poor thing. She wasn't allowed to win for six months.
I think some dog trainers label tug as a bad game because they are afraid of liability.
Tug is such a fun a game for people and dogs, it's sad it's gotten a bad rep. I hope everyone is having a tugging good time -- and watch your fingers...why do dogs always inch up the rope?
 
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