Matt says: Playing and training go hand-in-hand and, more than any other game, tug-o-war is great for teaching discipline and new skills as well as a way to have fun. For lots of dogs, playing tug comes naturally. Stick a toy in front of them and all they want to do is grab and tug.
However, for other dogs, nothing could be further from the truth. When you put a tug toy in front of them, all you get in return is a blank stare. This can be frustrating for you as an owner and your dog might be labelled as ‘lacking drive to play’ – but this isn’t the case!
Play is an adapted form of instinctual dog behaviours – to chase, grab, bite then kill. Tug-o-war taps into this chain of behaviour – but some parts of it might be more familiar to your dog than others. Let’s say your dog knows how to grab and bite, but doesn’t know how to chase. Using a tug toy, try a short chase of 3-4 metres followed by the reward of grabbing, biting and tugging.
On the other hand, if your dog loves chasing but isn’t familiar with the rest of the chain, start by letting them grab, hold and bite a toy and follow this up with a chase. You should start to enjoy a successful game of tug in no time.