Archives for the day Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Tug of war

 Tug of war is one of the common play in human or canine.

 In Japan, from kindergarten through high school,it was one of the sports always played at school’s sports festival. For human tug of war sports, communication,timing becomes very important to win.It is such a simple sport with simple rule,but it was fun playing at school.

 In canine version of tug of war, what “tug of war” is same:tugging each other and play,but having a rule is important if you participate in this canine tug of war with your dog. I have heard of this type of play being a controversial, but I personally think that as long as you initiate the play,and decide when to play,when to finish it is still a fun play with your dog. And if you have seen Agility competition or police k9 training,tug of war seem to be used as reward as well.

 When I play Tug of war with my stumpy little dog “Palette”, I pick the tug of war toy,and usually,just having it in my hands and move around gets her attention. She gets excited,following around me, and maybe some barks at me. I just ignore her and walk up to the place where I like to play,and she follows me and shows her excitement with pawing at me or barks occasionally.

 My rule number one for playing with my dog is that I never start any kinds of play unless she sits nicely and stop barking. She already knows how to get me in the favorite play quicker so,she tends to sit and quiet before play soon.

 Once my dog gets sit,gives me attention and quiet,I say “Take it” and play tug of war but now and then during the tug game, I say “Give” or “Down” or “Bang!(Play dead) or “Spin” etc and I give her little treats every time she did her tricks. It is, in a sense, like playing “Musical chair” if you will. it is just my version of tug of war play. If I say ” Give” and if my dog released the tug toy,I give treats and then,I pause one second and make sure she sits and quiet before continuing the tug play.

 But I think that before playing the tug of war play with your dog, teaching your dog “Take it” and  “Give” (or Drop it) maybe the first thing in the “To-do list”. Teaching “Take it” is easy. When your dog pick up the object, you click and treat. And you can repeat it over and over and soon,your dog learn “Take it” means pick up the object.then,you can teach command “Give”.One important rule in teaching ” give” command is that when you say “Give” and when your dog did not release the object in the mouth,you do not want to pull it to take it away,and make sure you give it back to him as soon as he release the object. This is to let your dog knows that “Give” does not mean that the precious toy or food or whatever he is having is not going to take it away forever, but it comes back to him. I practiced with my dog “Give” with many different items from ball,toy,treats/food,leash(I practiced with leash as well just because I was teaching my dog to bring the leash to me when we go for walk)etc..

 For dogs, one simple difference in environment is perceived as complete different thing. So,for example,if your dog knows “Sit” and do good inside the house does not mean he can do “Sit” in your yard. so, practicing with various environment,various object is good.

 Back to the subject, if your dog did not release the object in the mouth, don’t take the object away with force, just simply be patient,say nothing,just gently holding the object and as soon as your dog release the object,you click and treat. Normally, dog release the object if he were offered higher valued item than whatever he is having in his mouth..

 Here is a good video to show you how to teach “Drop it” /”Give” to your dogs. 

One word of caution though. Playing tug of war is fun,but don’t use socks or something you do not want your dogs to think it as toy.

 Also,no matter what nice dogs they are, with tug of war play, their canine teeth sometimes miss the tug and instead,it can scrape the skin of  hands. You cannot get mad at your dogs because they were not meant to,but if the player was children, you may want to supervise the play,and and if the excitement of the dogs charged up too much,and if you feel the play went too far,you may want to interfere the play and finish the play.

 There are rubber made tug toy but,I personally use rope tug of toy. And I have seen the owner let the dog bite the tug toy and spin and make dog body slightly in the air,hanging with just teeth,but I don’t do that to my dog because I worry that it may hurts my dog’s teeth/jaw.

 Playing with your dogs is fun for both of your dogs and yourself,but it is also great way to make your bond with your dogs stronger.  


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Feb 15, 2009 | 0 | Dog Training