Tug-of-War - Common Concerns

If you are concerned about the negative reputation (dominance, aggression problems)
Previous aggression history: These dogs may be provoked towards dominance and become aggressive toward their family.

Examples – Still or stiff face, body or stance, raised tail, focused intimidating eye contact, sneering or snarling, low unfriendly growls, raised quivering lips with teeth showing, strained face instead of playful and happy.

These signs mean they are not having fun. Leave the toy and stop playing. Do not hit, yell, use a stern voice or show any aggression.  Talk with your veterinarian if your dog displays these behaviors and consider behaviorist or trainer session.

Arthritis or Orthopedic Concerns: Tug- of-War uses the whole body and all its muscles. If they suffer from these health issues a vigorous game of Tug-of-War can cause injuries to the spine and joints. Consult your veterinarian for modifications and recommendations if you two can’t resist this type of play.

Size and Weight Considerations: Play to your dog’s size, endurance and fit levels. Smaller and lighter need different more gentile play than heavier and larger dogs. Remember you are bigger than them. Most of the time, for all the Danes, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers, be gentile with your human owners.

Dental Concerns: Puppies teeth and jaws are growing. Tug-of-War is not safe for these dogs. Malocclusion (jaw or teeth alignment injuries) can happen. Wait till they are eight to nine months old and are their mouths are fully developed. Sometimes mature dogs can even be injured and need extractions from overly vigorous tugging. Give in, teach them drop it and let them win. Avoid overly strenuous pulling for these dogs.

Offer your dog the toy to begin the game. Train them to sit calmly and not lunge toward the rope, they want the challenge of controlling their behavior for the reward of treats during or after. If they break a rule calmly put the toy away for a minute before starting again.

Your dog must give up the tug toy any time you command it.

Use commands like "leave it," "drop it," or "give it". Say the phrase and reward with a treat as soon as the command is obeyed. Try using a dog training clicker. These session help you and the dog establish boundaries and dominance as an owner. Refer to our training e-book for more tips.

Remain in control by repeating "leave it," "drop it," or "give it" periodically throughout the training. Command your dog to sit before starting any new game or when you stop the Tug-of-War. Show them where the toy is stored. They will learn and learn to display the desire to play near the toys storage location.

Teeth touching or close bites. Use the phrase “Stop” or “Uh Ah” and stop play by storing the toy briefly. Our dogs learn easily that bites to close for comfort will end the play.

If any signs of aggression mentioned above develop, drop the toy and walk away. Do not correct behavior by taking the toy, yelling, hitting or using a firm voice. Your aggressive response could escalate theirs and result in serious injuries to your or your dog. You may have a dog not recommended for the Pawtooth Tug-of-War toy. Contact your veterinarian a behaviorist or trainer to discuss your dog's behavior.