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Tug a lug Zoey

Zoey-4If you have a furkid anything like our Zoey, you’ll know just how strong our canine companions can be! Zoey absolutely loves playing tug! Unfortunately she doesn’t know just how strong she can be compared to me being a mere human being…Zoey also tends to forget how to contain her excitement sometimes and can become a bit boisterous. That’s why I decided to teach her the rules of tug. The benefits of playing Tug—playing Tug can help teach self-control and provide a bonding activity for you and your pooch. Tug can be an awesome game IF you and your dog play by the rules! Also playing tug can be a good addition to a daily exercise regime.

Rule #1: You should initiate the game. If your dog tries to start the game, have him do some sits & downs for you first, then you can go ahead and play with him. Prior to getting all hyped up and having your arm pulled out of its socket it’s important to understand that Tug games have rules and when you say “enough is enough” your dog must comply.

Rule # 2: Before you even think about starting to tug, your pooch must have a completely reliable relinquish.

HOW TO: “DROPPING/RELINQUISHING ITEMS” This is to teach a dog to willingly give up items, instead of claiming them as their own forever more.

1. Start with an object which has a low value to your pooch

2. Give him the object to hold in his mouth

3. Hold a food treat close to his nose. He will sniff at it and most likely drop the object. When he let’s go of the object, give your dog the treat.

4. Pick up the object and give it back to him

5. Name it: after your dog has reliably relinquished the object a few times, add a verbal cue (choose your word: give/drop it/out etc. just remember “leave it” means something else) Say the cue word as soon as he drops the object. •Before switching to an item of higher value (in this case the tug toy), do at least 20 repetitions to proof the cue. *NOTE: if the dog doesn’t take the object in his mouth, give it back to him anyway (put it down in front of him) Then take it back, giving the dog the reinforcer and then put it down in front of him again. *If he takes the object and runs away, practice exchanges without actually letting go of the object. This will help him experience the act of having something taken away, receiving a reward and then having the object given back to him.

Rule # 3: The dog may only grab the Tuggy when you give him permission to do so.


1. “Tease” your pup with the Tuggy a bit to encourage him to grab onto it

2. As he grabs say “Take it/Tug/Pull” (your choice)

3. Pull a little and tug then stop and say your relinquish cue “give it/drop it/out” (so many choices) as you offer a treat.

4. Slowly stop offering treats, as your pooches relinquishes get more solid on cue 5. Once he releases the toy, restart the game- getting to play again becomes the reward *If your dog grabs the toy, his behavior should result in some negative punishment—the good thing (in this case the tug) goes away and disappears from sight (put it behind your back.) Ask him to Sit and if he complies, bring the toy back out and resume the game.

Rule # 4: Give your pooch opportunities to “win” the game by simply letting go of the Tuggy. This is especially important for dogs that lack confidence. Just remember that you also need to “win” (using the relinquish cue) in order to keep control of the game.

Rule # 5: SAFETY FIRST- If at any time your dog’s teeth touch your skin, say “OUCH” and end the game! Put the Tuggy away for a few minutes, and then you can give your dog another chance. Rule # 6: Always end the game on your terms. Give a release cue (“all done”) as a clear indication that the game is over.


by Candice