I get asked often if tug of war is a good game to play with your dog. “Will it make my dog aggressive”? “Will it make my dog dominant over me”? I have to tell you, I absolutely LOVE the game of tug! I play it with all my dogs, and if they don’t tug as puppies, I teach them! It’s a great way for dog and owner to bond, its great exercise for the dog and it’s a fun reward for the dog. For those of us who do performance events with our dogs, it’s a great way to warm them up and get them jazzed up for work. However, there are definite rules for the game of tug and here they are:

1. Your dog has to release the tug toy on command – teach your dog the “drop it” command so he will let go of the toy when you ask.
2. The game only happens when you say so – you initiate the game and you end the game. It also helps to have a special tug toy that you store away from your dog and only bring out when you want to play.
3. The game stops often for training breaks – before the game starts up again ask your dog for an obedience behavior such as sit or down.
4. Zero tolerance of sloppy jaw control – game over if teeth hit your skin or grab your shirt, even if it’s an accident.

That’s it. Now grab a tug toy and go have fun!