WATCH: Top 5 Tug Questions Answered By Our Play Expert
Wondering how to teach your dog to ‘leave it’? Desperate to discover how to stop your dog getting over excited? Curious about why we use real fur?
Look no further.
Our Play Expert, Chelsea, has recorded handy video answers to the top five questions from Tug-E-Nuff customers.
Whether you’re new to tug or you’ve been playing for years, scroll down for top tips that will improve your play.
‘Why do you use real fur?’
We’re not just dog lovers here at Tug-E-Nuff, we’re animal lovers. That’s why we totally understand when customers ask why we use real fur to make some of our tug toys - and why we’re always happy to explain.
We’re proud to say that all the rabbit skin and sheepskin we use is responsibly sourced. It’s actually a byproduct of the meat industry which would otherwise be thrown away. The animals are never bred just for their fur and we only use trusted suppliers from the UK and the European Union.
But why do we use real fur for some toys? As Chelsea explains in the video above…
✔ Real fur has a unique scent and texture that is super motivating for most dogs - especially those that struggle with recall
✔ Sheepskin toys and rabbit fur toys are also so enticing that they act as a ‘gateway’ toy for nervous dogs or dogs with no play drive, allowing them to discover the joy and benefits of interactive play before moving on to other toys
✔ There’s no need to worry that playing with real fur toys encourages dogs to chase livestock - while we also recommend care is taken with dogs around wildlife, it’s simply not the case that playing tug with a real fur toy encourages chasing. More on this in a dedicated blog here.
‘How do I teach a leave or release command?’
There’s a certain repertoire of commands that every dog should know - ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘leave’ are all included. A reliable ‘leave’ command is essential for playing tug - it means you can always safely end the game on your terms.
But how do you teach a leave/release command? Here’s what Chelsea advises…
✔ When you want play to stop, don’t pull back on the toy to try to take it from your dog. Your dog is likely to think you just want to keep playing tug.
✔ Use a consistent release word, such as ‘leave’ - and when your dog does let go, reward them as quickly as possible (either with a treat or by re-starting the game - for lots of dogs, play is more rewarding than food)
✔ Play ‘toy switch’ to practice your ‘leave’. Use two identical toys (this is best to begin with but you can use similar toys once your dog has the hang of it). Hide one behind your back while tugging with the other. Then let the active toy go limp and ask for a leave. Then, make the toy behind your back ‘come to life’ - and repeat!
✔ Try ending the game with a distraction - such as scatter feeding. Sniffing is calming for dogs and it gives them something else to focus on when play stops.
‘How can I stop my dog getting over-excited?’
Playing with your dog is supposed to be exciting and stimulating for your dog - that’s one of the main benefits.
However, some dogs get over-aroused during play with Tug-E-Nuff toys (we can’t blame them, they are super exciting) and find it difficult to calm down or end a game. It’s in these situations that it’s important to take steps to lower arousal levels.
Chelsea has some great advice for this, including…
✔ Teach start and stop cues so it’s clear to your dog when play is beginning and ending
✔ Try a lower value toy. For dogs that get over-aroused during play, tug toys with real fur (such as the Sheepskin Chaser or Rabbit Skin Pocket Squeaker) can be too exciting. A faux fur alternative (like the Bright Fauxtastic or a Faux Fur Chaser) may work better
✔ Break up play with commands. Stop the game and ask for a sit or other command - then re-engage. This is a great way to gauge your dog’s arousal levels (can they follow the command?) before deciding whether to keep playing.
‘What’s the best way to look after my Tug-E-Nuff toys?’
When you first receive your Tug-E-Nuff parcel of toys, it’s just the start of a long and playful journey!
All our toys are created to stand the test of time even with the most enthusiastic tuggers - but it’s always essential to remember the three magic words: supervised, interactive fun. That means not letting your dog have unsupervised access to their Tug-E-Nuff toys, and keeping them for interactive games only (never as chew toys).
Here are Chelsea’s aftercare tips…
✔ Wash any Tug-E-Nuff toy (except those with squeakers) separately in the washing machine, on a cool, delicate cycle
✔ Tug-E-Nuff toys with squeakers should never be submerged in water. Instead, wipe down with a damp cloth
✔ Always air dry your toys - never put them in a tumble dryer. Be aware that colours may (and do) run when the toys are wet
✔ Brush with a slicker when dry to revive the fluff on toys with real or faux fur
‘How can I stop my dog grabbing the handle of my toy?
One of the most common ‘problems’ dog owners who play tug encounter is ‘handle grabbing’. This happens when, instead of grabbing and tugging on the bite area of a tug toy (usually the big fluffy bit) a dog will instead tend to grab onto the handle.
Tug-E-Nuff toys are made with quality materials that are tested for durability - but we still always recommend taking action to stop handle grabbing.
So what can you do?
✔ Bunching up the handle of your toy and presenting your dog with the bite area (then gradually unravelling the handle during play)
✔ Praising your dog when they do grab the bite area so they know they’re doing the right thing
✔ Keeping tension on the toy. This helps avoid ‘re-gripping’ where dogs move from the bite area up towards the handle.
✔ Interrupting play to ‘reset’ your dog every time they grab the handle - but always with patience and positivity
✔ Trying the Sheepskin Bungee Ring. This has a small rounded handle and a large bite area - it’s a tried-and-tested success with handle-grabbing dogs!