Tug games are suitable as an indoor activity or as a game in between. They make the dog tired, promote its self-confidence and the relationship of trust with humans – provided that everyone adheres to the rules.
A sturdy rope and a person pulling the other end: For many dogs, this is the epitome of fun. No wonder, because the wild tugging at supposed prey appeals to the ancient instincts of the four-legged friends and is part of the natural behavioral repertoire. “You can already see that in young dogs. If a puppy drags a sock, another will surely start a tug of war,” says Susi Roger, dog trainer, and physiotherapist. In Roger’s experience, terriers, herding dogs, and cattle dogs are particularly enthusiastic. “Of course, that doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t enjoy it too – my golden retrievers and dachshunds also loved tugs.”
However, some dog trainers of the old school don’t understand the subject of tugging at all. They advise either giving up this employment opportunity altogether or at least never letting the dog win. Otherwise, it is feared, the dog could get the idea of being the boss of the house. That’s not true, says Susi Roger, who runs the “Doggynose” dog school in Kloten. “In a trusting dog-human relationship without fundamental problems, no four-legged friend questions the superiority of the dog owner because he wins a tug of war.” It is clearly a game for the dogs, a showdown with each other and not against each other. “And that’s only fun when the dog can win and proudly carry away its prey.”
Be Careful When Changing Teeth
Such a prey success can strengthen self-confidence, especially with insecure dogs. And with a well-rehearsed team, the dog will bring the rope back after a short time anyway to encourage the owner to start a new round. “The more the dog trusts its play partner and the more sovereignty the dog owner demonstrates in the game, the more the dog trusts its owner in everyday situations,” says Roger.
In the case of dogs that tend to defend resources, i.e. aggressively defend “their” toys, and with other behavioral problems, the rope should actually be left in the closet. This also applies to the time of the change of teeth. For other health problems such as osteoarthritis, you should consult the vet to be on the safe side.
The Rules of the Game
- For the tug of war, you need a suitable toy, for example, a thick rope with a knotted end or a hard rubber tire from a specialist shop. Branches or plastic objects can splinter and cause serious injuries.
- The dog may bite the rope vigorously, but not its hands. In this way, biting inhibition can be playfully trained with young dogs.
- Accelerating is allowed, but: “The dog should always remain responsive, listen to people even in the middle of the game and let go of the rope on command,” says the dog trainer.
- Humans should adapt their use of strength to the dog: with a full-grown mastiff, hang on the rope more than with a Chihuahua.
- If a dog is violently shaken back and forth during a tug game or even lifted into the air, the spine can be damaged. In order to protect them, the rope should not be moved up and down, but back and forth, i.e. horizontally.