Tug-of-War - Rules and Guidelines

Pawtooth Recommendations

Choose a toy like Pawtooths 3 foot-5 knot. The length prevents your dog from accidentally grabbing your hand with his teeth while readjusting his bite. Ropes are comfortable for both you and your dog

Only use the toy when playing Tug-of-War. Store when the game is over. Your dog will learn the toy is for Tug-of-War, training and exercise. Please see our additional rope toys used for anxiety and destruction.

Have a start and finish to the game. Train your dog to understand you set the rules of how the game is played, when it starts and ends.

Train the dog to sit calmly before your start. Use sit, Wait, and Come.

Jumping and biting should be avoided. Let your dog grab the toy when you command. Start over if the dog grabs you or your clothes.

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.

Children Should Never Be Allowed To Play Tug-of-War With Dogs

Children sometimes struggle with the rule of the game more than the dog. Children are likely to miss the warning signs of the game being out of their control.

Children or frail elderly people may suffer a severe injury if knocked or pulled over if the dog starts to earn control or not recognize them as the owner and dominant in the game.

When Is It Good To Let Your Dog Win At Tug-of-War?

Experts cannot agree on whether it is good or bad to let them win. Experts will say it is not good to let them win while others believe it allows trust to build by letting them win occasionally.

Can Dogs Play Tug-of-War?

Friendly dogs may be able to play together. Dogs that struggle with dominance and fight often or bare teethe with each other while playing probably should not play together. Playing together is different than playing with their human owner. The goal they are working towards is dominance and to win control of the toy. Friendly snarling, growling or shows of dominance are ok. Fighting or aggressive non-playful fighting are not.

If your dogs are stiff their faces are unhappy or the hair on their back is raised, they may have crossed from play to fight mode. Wagging tails, rambunctious tumbling and nipping, playing tag or rolling around are good indicators of friendly play. Fighting or aggression over the toy is an indication the toy should be stored. Do not get between fighting dogs or attempt to remove the toy. Call your dog to your, speak stop, come or sit. Then separate them from the toy and store the toy. This is the time to exercise the training that comes from proper Tug-of-War play with your dog. This is when you protect them from dangerous situations.

Playing Tug-of-War Alone

Eventually we all get old and out bodies, backs, shoulders and joints deteriorate. Therefore, our young dog has better endurance, joints and can last longer in the game than us. This is a time where we suggest tethering or tying the rope toy to an immovable object. You can sit in a lawn chair sipping water while you supervise your energetic pup attempting to win the Tug-of-War.

Disclaimer: These recommendations are for reference only and are not intended to replace professional veterinarian advise. They do no attempt to diagnose treat or replace licensed veterinarian advice. Please review our advice with your pets licensed veterinarian if in doubt. This information is for general reference or guidance purposes only. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of recommendations in this text.