Tugger Fun: Why Do Dogs Love Tug-of-War?

Greetings from me, Chopper. No matter the weather, a good game of tug-of-war is sure to get both you and your dog a great upper body workout.

What does your dog get out of a good pull with you and why are dogs so crazy for this playing style? I’ll educate you.

What’s the Deal with the Tugs?

Some dogs are really into tug-of-war. If you have a tugging fiend, you’ve likely seen the signs. Shredded socks, snagged sweaters and ragged rope bones are evidence. You may have wrestled your old tennis shoe away or witnessed a stretchy toy losing its pull. Why are they so into tugging?

First, tug-of-war means exercise with their best friend. (That’s probably you, but it may be a furry sibling if you catch the two of them constantly trying to shred toys together.) That pack activity gives everyone warm, fuzzy feelings—including your living room floor if the toy is truly destroyed in the process.

Second, tugging feeds into the animal instincts. Young animals play to learn survival skills. We are descendants of wolves, so we still have the impulse to engage in wild pursuits. Domesticated dogs don’t have to practice hunting down kibble to feed the pack, so we exercise our hunting urges in play.

Finally, when you join your dog for a tug, it encourages collaboration. You’re working together on something. It bonds you together as a pack even more.

West Paw Zisc

Tuggers, Not Jerks

If your dog might enjoy a tug, it’s your job as pet parent to establish the ground rules for a game. First and foremost, it’s best not to play heavy tugging games if your dog has a delicate jaw or fragile teeth.

Teach your dog how to play. Start with release commands that aren’t confusing. “Drop it” is better than “no” or “stop” because those words come up too much in regular human conversation. Give rewards for following the command to end. You’re in charge of initiating and ceasing tug-of-war. Disengage from the game completely if there’s too much aggression.

By the way, dog “sneezes” are a great sign when it’s play time. It’s a behavior from puppyhood, indicating to pack mates that a pup is just playing. Sneezes are better than growls and raised hairs.

We have some fantastic tug toys in the shop for you to tackle some tug-of-war with your buddy.

Until next time--

Chopper & Otis

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