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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know pretty much everyone here is for the debunking of Dominance theory ( I am also for the most part). I have been reading a lot lately about different dog games ; Tug-o-war seems to be a pretty contestable subject - some believe it makes dogs aggressive others say it relieves aggressiveness ... some on the dominance train say that if you play you should always win otherwise it makes the dog "dominant" over you.

I pose a question two... what are your thoughts, educated or otherwise? Also, how can a game played between so many species be considered detrimental to a human/dog relationship?
 

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As long as the dog has a solid "give" or "drop it" command, then tug is a good form of exercise and play IMO.

the problem isn't "dominance," it is simply that you don't want the dog to become accustomed to getting to keep whatever he manages to get in his mouth. He just has to know that playing tug with a tug rope is different than him grabbing a pair of your pants for example. Or playing tug/keep away with trash or something potentially harmful.

If you always "win" then the dog can't celebrate by getting to play with the tug toy or run around with it and that's half the fun. But you do want to always be ABLE to "win" by giving a command to DROP IT and having the dog obey (and quickly reward with a treat). Try playing a bit, asking for Drop It while holding a treat, give the treat when he drops the rope. Then play tug a little more and repeat. This way, he can learn that the fun doesn't end just because he drops the rope.

Lots of dogs will growl when playing tug, its normal and part of play. Even my nearly silent Chester will growl almost continuously while playing tug. It isn't growling directed at you, but more a growl-talk like "I'm gonna get this rope"
 

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I agree with everything Shell said.....and it can even be used to teach a good "give", if your dog likes tug, what is a better treat than more tug!! I've found playing it with Caeda has encouraged a lot more interactive play with her, and she has found us FAR more fun than she did before we played tug (she never really liked fetch mutch, but has started to since she has found interacting with us to be a great thing). It has also taught her a lot about capping her excitement. She has to sit before tugging again and can't go for it until we say so.
I think its a fantastic game to play with a dog, and can really turn into a great reward. There is a reason that there is a Mike Ellis DVD called "The Power of Playing Tug".
Shell mentions celebrating getting the tug....I just spent half an hour in the front yard with my DH and Caeda laughing ourselves silly because she got the tug and did her proud prance in big circles endlessly. It was great! You should always be able to win, so if you are going to have a dog that is going to be strong, work on that before they grow too much! I've let the tug go a couple of times and thought "yeah...really, I meant to do that!"
 

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I agree, and I think that Tug with rules is an important part of a dog's education. When my dog was younger, he would win... but when he won, the game stopped... so he learned to pull it from me and then present it nicely... and if I didn't take it, he'd poke me with it :)

MY nephew has a Pit Bull that gets too excited with Tug, and will bite fingers to get the toy. That's poor training. Part of Tug training is controlled excitement, especially that teeth never touch skin! Otherwise, I recommend Tug!
 

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Everyone pretty much said it all. My dog also sounds ferocious when we play ... but it is just that ... play.

I however used the tug of war game to train Abbylynn to pull me around in a wheeled chair. It was fairly easy to do. I just used the word " Pull " when she pulled on the tug rope and the harder she pulled ... the greater the reward. Lots of " Pull! Pull! Pull! " and lots of praise, rewards, and lots of tug! :)
 

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I agree with Shell. And also:
MY nephew has a Pit Bull that gets too excited with Tug, and will bite fingers to get the toy. That's poor training. Part of Tug training is controlled excitement, especially that teeth never touch skin! Otherwise, I recommend Tug!
THIS. My dogs always learn that if their teeth touch my skin at all during tug, the game ends immediately. It really does help to teach them how to control their mouths lol. =)
 

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i know with china she never played tug with the kids only with adults, and if kids were around she wouldn't play at all. It wasn't something I taught her it was just her way and we didn't try n change that. Nyx plays tug but i always stop part way through to take it from her and then give it back i stop playing if her mouth touches me.
 

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I think tug is great, I've been using it a lot more for breaks inbetween shaping behaviour lately, and it keeps their enthusiasm up and also teaches them self control, because they have to let go when I say.

I wouldn't know about aggression, my dogs aren't aggressive so there is no aggression to relieve, but I know LOADS of people use tugging as a reward and some of the best trainers in the world recommend tugging as a reward, and I can't imagine so many people would use it and recommend it if it caused issues.
 

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The book "Dog Sense" has an interesting study about how dogs (Labs) play tug with other dogs vs with humans. Basically, the dogs were more likely to guard toys from other dogs, and more likely to surrender them to humans, presumably to keep the game going. If two dogs playing tug were then both given their own toy, each would go off on his own with the toy for a while. The dog having his own toy didn't change his behavior much at all when the play partner was a human - he'd keep bringing the toy back to the person to play. My own (limited) experience is also that dog vs dog tug is very different than dog vs human.

My dog just about always "wins", and I'm pretty sure he would lose interest otherwise. Then I chase him around. He also lets go on command reliably, and I feel like these games are a great way to train and reinforce that. But certainly, a dog can get very riled up playing tug, so I'd be very careful at first with an untrained dog or one that's particularly excitable.
 

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Troubles and Aleu generally won't play tug too much. Troubles will if he gets excited enough, but it's Diesel that does all the rough housing.
He knows 'release' and I tell others to use it when they play tug with him and are afraid of him getting too intense. I'm not afraid of him, however. He's very good about if he does actually hurt me, I will actually yelp and he will immediately stop and back up. He's always been before good about that. We growl, shake, push each other when playing tug and usually I always get the toy back. But there are times when I just can't find the motivation to win so I let him win. He prances around, shakes the toy and walks past me to try and get me to chase him for it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
I've always been told that tug is wrong, and should not be played at all. And if the game is played, you have to win. I've never had a problem with it. I honestly think it depends on the dog. If you have a dog that's already possessive I don't think I would play tug with them, and especially not let them win. But I've never had a possessive dog before.
 

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Tug is GREAT!!! Especially with a driven dog. I can lift both of my ACDs completely off the ground playing tug.

But as others have said you have to have a solid release. I use OUT. And I use Tug to teach Out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow! it's great to see everyone loves tug! Loki isn't a huge fan, but time to time to have a good go at it - last night hi pulled out a baby tooth playing startled me at first but all is well. I always work on training with him in everything we do, mostly because I try and make training as fun as possible for both of us and I think games are a great way to do that!
I agree with absolutely everything everyone has said, it just makes more sense that tug (or any game for that matter) can be a constructive game rather than a battle to the top.
 

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The book "Dog Sense" has an interesting study about how dogs (Labs) play tug with other dogs vs with humans. Basically, the dogs were more likely to guard toys from other dogs, and more likely to surrender them to humans, presumably to keep the game going. If two dogs playing tug were then both given their own toy, each would go off on his own with the toy for a while. The dog having his own toy didn't change his behavior much at all when the play partner was a human - he'd keep bringing the toy back to the person to play. My own (limited) experience is also that dog vs dog tug is very different than dog vs human.
I haven't found it to be true from my limited experience that dogs who play tug with other dogs are more likely to resource guard toys. I've actually found the opposite to be true in my experience. The dogs that guard toys won't play tug with another dog they snap and snarl simply from another dog having a toy or approaching them and their toy. Jubel LOVES to play tug with other dogs, probably just as much as he loves to wrestle with them. He actually seems somewhat confused to me when he encounters dogs who guard toys, not really sure why they just snapped at him. Never seen him guard anything but on a few occasions some very high value treats I gave him and he would trade up for another high value treat.
 

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Tug is the highest value reward I have for Nahla. Nothing is more important than tug. I also use "out" for release and it's extremely reliable.
 

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Most of the detection dogs here get a tug reward. It can be used to build confidence, increase drives, build and improve bite and grips. Also can be used with benefits when increasing pressure on protection dogs. Tugging is great.
 

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Holly loves to play tug, i do get her to leave it when it is in her mouth and give it too me, like i do with every toy she has, she will growl when playing tug aswell, so does my auntie's BC, Holly also makes funny noises when playing with other toys.
 

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I agree with what most say here. Tug-o-war is a great activity/play that can be used to train and showcase many aspects of a owner dog relationship. Instead of repeating what others here say I'll point out one danger area with tug-o-war though. If the owner is new to all this and/or doesn't grasp the very basics of dog training, behavior, signals and similar tug-o-war can quickly become a source of negativity, mixed signals and in some cases real aggression, from both sides. That's no good.
 

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The book "Dog Sense" has an interesting study about how dogs (Labs) play tug with other dogs vs with humans. Basically, the dogs were more likely to guard toys from other dogs, and more likely to surrender them to humans, presumably to keep the game going. If two dogs playing tug were then both given their own toy, each would go off on his own with the toy for a while. The dog having his own toy didn't change his behavior much at all when the play partner was a human - he'd keep bringing the toy back to the person to play. My own (limited) experience is also that dog vs dog tug is very different than dog vs human.

My dog just about always "wins", and I'm pretty sure he would lose interest otherwise. Then I chase him around. He also lets go on command reliably, and I feel like these games are a great way to train and reinforce that. But certainly, a dog can get very riled up playing tug, so I'd be very careful at first with an untrained dog or one that's particularly excitable.
I recommend to the OP that you read this book - it's excellent. And what Voidous doesn't mention is that the author, John Bradshaw, also discusses some research into tug with dogs. Basically it showed that when dogs are allowed to "win" they like to play more. When you "win" every time it just reduces their willingness to play tug, presumably because it's less fun. As another poster said, running around with the toy after winning is half the fun.

You do have to make sure the dog has a solid "give" or "drop it" and that he learns how to not bite fingers when he's going for the toy. I play tug with Hobbes all the time. I make him drop it every time he brings it back to me, then he has to sit until I say "get it". It's a good training opportunity, as well as a lot of fun for both of you!
 

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We used to let our dogs play tug and every once in a while we will let them play it. I don't typically play tug with either dog because for the most part I'm not a fan. It's started a couple fights in our house, as a matter of fact. Nothing serious because either my fiance or myself was always there to break it up, but still...For us, there are many more productive games to play. Granted, I have BC's and I think there is just too much eye contact involved in tug for it to be a good thing.
 
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