Tug of war makes your dogs mean!

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by dogsarebetter, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    nah that's a myth. It is only a bad idea if you allow the dog to grab at your hands as well or if your dog has resource guarding and the game is only a game to you. I play tug with Phoebe, it has not made her aggressive, we played with Max and there was not aggression. Neither of them drop/dropped on command and both were allowed to initiate the game, only rule is that all normal rules still must be followed. That means you can't jump or mouth/bite my hands. It's a game.
     
  2. Xandra

    Xandra Active Member

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    If that's the case my dog should be a rabid monster because I play tug of war with him all the time and it's rough lol.

    I don't really know how to explain it but we've done it enough that he just knows what I want him to do with hardly any cues. Sometimes I'll hold it above my head and to the side and I want him to leap and catch it, and I move out of the way so he'll jump until he manages to out-manouver me. At which point the tug of war starts and he's pretty serious- still having fun but intense at the same time. Usually he wins because my arms gets sore lol but if I want it I just tell him to drop it. He doesn't care because that usually means the game is going to restart or I'll throw it for him, which he also loves. He's gentle with my hands by default, I don't really care if he accidently bites me but he does, lol.

    It's amazing to me that he can be in the ecstasy of the moment, be 6 ft in the air and trying to grab something for all he's worth, yet if he gets my hand he manages to not even break the skin. :confused: I have no idea how.

    I get him to jump up but if that's not what I want/when the jumping game ends, he somehow knows. And that's that and he stays on the ground. When I'm holding something, he can tell whether I'm going to throw it or I'm offering it to him as a target. He's pretty good at reading body language.

    At any rate he's been playing tug of war since he got off the plane (he's pretty tired here lol)
    [​IMG]

    And he has never done anything out of line in regards to being possessive of his toys, jumping up when I didn't want him to or biting me or anyone else. So I wouldn't put much store in the "it makes them aggressive" thing.
     
  3. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    The problem is not everyone is an experienced dog person like the standard Chazzer. You tell people that it is ok to play tug with a puppy and a lot of them will be like my ex...clueless as to what they are doing. He actually thought it was funny.

    Victor was pretty lethal at 5 months too. I am almost certain he had been teased and I believe he had his teeth hurt too. He was desperate to get to the whatever toy first and would bite through your hand to achieve it..but if you had ahold of one end he would drop it instantly and try to figure a way to snatch it from you the whole time barking insanely. Would pretty much bet money someone played with him that way ^^^^^. It took months of changing his behaviors. HE went from interested in play to instantly pissed in a milisecond. That is why we started with bubbles. If done wrong it can screw them up terribly and i find it safer if people just don't play tug at all unless they have someone explain that when you do play tug..it isn't really I win or you win but i pull a little you pull a little. I don't know how to say what i mean.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  4. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    It's the same though, with anything. People don't know a lot of things and ruin their dogs...not just with tug, but with all kinds of stuff. In my book, I describe tug and I make it very clear that rules must be installed, as with any game or any behavior. People cause dogs to resource guard by taking things away from them all the time. People cause dogs to be defensive and bite by mistreating them. People cause dogs to attack kids on bikes because they punish them severely for barking at a kid on a bike and the dog then associates kids on bikes with danger. People cause dogs to bite visitors because an insecure dog might growl, but then be punished for growling in the presence of visitors. I have a few clients with that scenario.

    So, it is no different. People may not handle their dogs right in playing a game with them so their dog develops a behavior problem. But so it is the same in all kinds of contexts. Tug is a game to most dogs, not a challenge.... and it is rare that a dog becomes aggressive on account of that game. IMO.
     
  5. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    I instructed people to play many different games with their puppies, that was part of my job at the kennels from easy retrieves..keep it simple, keep it short, to hide and seek. THere is no way I would say to someone like that with an 8 week old lab...go home and it's ok to play tug because it can be interpreted the other way..it's the humane aspect here that is bad not the dog's. THere are just too many better ways to entertain your dog and keep thinking that doesn't increase the risk of anger.
     
  6. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    There is no risk if it's done intelligently, otherwise, a lot of people would have big problems with their dogs. Most of the people I've interacted with, like around my own neighborhood aren't mental giants where dog behavior is concerned. They play tug with their dogs or other rough housing and I don't see problems with aggression from that. Other games are good too.

    Another thing I do when I play is break things up frequently during a round. We tug for about 10 seconds, the dog wins... We'll stop, I'll ask for a sit or a down and ask for the toy back. Then we'll play again. I wouldn't tug for so long at one time that the dog gets frusterated. That's just common sense. It should be a structured game, not an out of control thing where the dog is calling all the shots. Deferential training is always important when having dogs...(You do this first and I'll give you this)

    Most respected behaviorists today, that I've read say the same thing. Tug has a lot of beneficial aspects to it for dogs....Dogs need a prey burner....an outlet for that drive. This prevents an inappropriate re-direction of prey drive. It's a terrific energy burner and cooperative game. It builds confidence. Lots of behaviorists and trainers recommend this game for insecure, shy dogs.

    So, I agree that it is a myth and a misconception that this produces opposition in a dog. Other things produce that. Tug is simply an incidental thing that gets blamed for inadequate, owner handling.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  7. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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  8. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    If you could hand that out with every puppy than yeah it would be fine.
     
  9. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    i guess i see tug as a cooperative game. i'm tugging WITH a dog, not AGAINST a dog. in which case, why on earth would tug increase the risk of anger? tug has been a huge help in teaching all three of my dogs self-control (as well as give and leave it). it's rewarding. it's FUN. they enjoy it. i enjoy it. tug is a hugely popular game among handlers in a number of dog sports.

    you can torture and drive a dog nuts with almost any toy or game. tug is no different. i honestly cannot fathom how the game i play with my dogs increases risk of anger.
     
  10. smkie

    smkie pointer/labrador/terrier Staff Member

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    IF everyone would think of it that way then yeah...but they don't. Maybe i am just in an area where there are so many people that still think domination is the name of the game and they start it early. IT breaks my heart. WE play tug here..a gentle i am going to but not really going to take your toy..i give it a bitty shake..but i put more emphasis on retrieving than on tug. IT is almost the reward for bringing it back. I never want to see some of the things i see around here with the tough dog attitude attached. I guess my point is tug is so easily abused it isn't funny and that to me is scary.

    Bronki and Mary played the most gentle tug with each other ever...LIke i would play tug with my 85 year old mother.;) It was just sweet.
     
  11. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    If this were an ideal world, I can think of a vast array of things I'd like to hand out with every puppy. How to play tug would be the tip of the ice berg for me. There are sooooo many things people do wrong with dogs and a vast majority of those things are based on the huge misconception people have about dogs and dominance. So many, many dog owners and a lot of trainers alike have the show 'em who's boss mentality. It's dominate or be dominated with them. It's war against the dogs. This, by no means, applies only to a game of tug. I'd like to hand out information about socialization. (a huge problem with inexperienced dog owners, which results in unbalanced and often, dangerous dogs) I'd hand out info on how to prevent resource guarding, how to teach a dog deferential behavior (teaching a dog to say, "please.") I'd hand out info on how to stop unwanted behavior without creating more problems than the original problem. (which is so common, it's just incredible) There are a vast amount of mistakes people make with dogs which create most all behavior problems, annoying and dangerous alike, that education would help. Problems arising from a game of tug is, to me, just not a real big issue. I suspect it accounts for a relatively small percentage of potential problems with dogs. And the reason for this is that most dogs just naturally view this as a game, not opposition. Chances are good that the people you mention are not only playing the game with no common sense or rules in place, but they're also probably doing all kinds of other things wrong, which undermines the whole relationship of cooperation with their dogs. People in my area, like I said, are certainly not up to snuff on dog behavior. They do things wrong too, but I still fail to see aggression issues which I could conclude are caused by playing a game of tug.

    I know so many people who play tug with their dogs and don't necessarily have any rules at all. And those dogs still recognize it as a game. They may get too grabby by mistake or leap up in an unruly way, but I don't see aggression result as a general rule. As the guy in the video explained, if a dog already has aggression issues where possession is an issue, this wouldn't be a great game because it has something to do with aquisition of a valued thing. The dog needs to learn an "out" first and learn more in the way of deferential behavior, learn that it is a game and be reinforced for wanted behavior, not reinforced for unwanted. You don't keep playing with a dog that doesn't mind the rules, just like you don't reward a dog for not complying with some other command or behavior you don't like.

    Saying that because a lot of people don't play correctly, tug is a bad game is like saying people who handle guns badly makes all guns a bad thing. Or people who can't parallel park makes all cars bad and they shouldn't be driven.:p
     
  12. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I have had many people over the years come to me with problem behaviors. Some are from a lack of training, some are from bad training. I have yet to see someone come to me with a behavior problem that I could attribute to playing tug.

    As for playing tug with a resource guarder? I do it all the time. I have 3 1/2 resource guarders. Tug has actually helped them guard less as they realize that just because my hand is on their toy doesn't mean they're going to lose it.

    Playing tug with Nyx is very beneficial. She gets so worried about sharing her toys. She'd prefer to take the tug toy and leave. On a good day she'll sit next to me, with her back to me, and quietly have her toy. As soon as my hand gets anywhere near her, she gets very chewy with it, she looks around for an escape route. She is very clearly anxious about it. Over time, I've been able to teach her that when I reach for her toy, it's to play tug, not to take it from her. Now she's a bit more willing to share. She's also in the process of learning that if she gets frantic about the toy, she's going to lose it -- it's not that the game ends, it's that she physically isn't able to hold it when she's worrying ~ all the chewing and regripping makes it easy for it to be taken away. When she's calm about playing tug, she wins. This seems to be transferring nicely into other areas where she tends to be hectic and nervous. She's beginning to be calmer in other aspects of her world.
     
  13. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Great points CP. With the resource guarding, you've initiated a trade game to prove that nothing bad happens when you take her toy. So, yeah....even with resource guarding, it can help with the cure in that it's reinforcing for the dog to give up the toy, so he can have the toy. (that good 'ole Chinese doggie zen at work again.)
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    As an instructor it is my job to teach people how to properly train the game of tug and this includes all the rules etc. IMO, the sooner people and their puppies/dogs the better.

    As a breeder of a breed that is known for having problems and can be aggressive if not bred correctly or raised correctly, teaching tug correctly is critical. My pups are now 7 1/2 wks old, they all know how to tug, they know to trade and they are also learning to be very careful of my fingers and flesh. I believe that if taught correctly it helps a great deal with bite inhibition. That is my job to start them correctly, it is also my job to teach anyone getting a puppy that isn't experienced in training dogs or doesn't know how to continue with correct tug training with their new pup.

    And I absolutely agree that ANYONE who doens't know the rules of tugging and anyone who is foolish enough to train a dog to tug without a rock solid 'invite to tug' and a 'release', shouldn't play the game.

    I also agree with the post/s that stated about baby teeth being pulled out or shifting. But that is easy, you don't pull against the pup you let them pull. And IMO, no dog should ever be swung hard from side to side regardless of age because of neck damage.
     
  15. Island dog

    Island dog New Member

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    That is an excellent point. To us, it appears obvious, we've all seen people with pups who have the best intentions in the world, are doing everything wrong but won't buy a book or read one. They might read a post like this and actually start thinking about what they're doing. My 2 cents.
     
  16. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Here are a couple of short, but good videos. The first shows two dogs playing. You'll see the bigger one self handi-capping. Cute. You'll have to scroll way down closer to the bottom.

    The second one, the man is showing how he uses tug as a reward as he practices some obedience tricks. The first dog wasn't so good at giving the toy, but in just a few reps, he got onto it. You'll see how.

    Human Bond With Dogs, Behavior of Dogs and People, Dog Psychology | Patricia McConnell Blog


    Playing Tug With Your Dog / How To Play Tug / Tug-o-war With Your Dog
     
  17. AllieMackie

    AllieMackie Wookie Collie

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    Lots of dog games CAN be detrimental to a dog, sure. Like any game, tug has to be played in a certain way. That certain way, IMO, depends on the dog.

    In Finn's case, tug is always a game. He is never tugging on something because he does not want me to have it, he always tugs because it's a game. I let him win sometimes, and when I do, he gives it a shake and brings it right back. "Let's play again!" In Finn's case, it's okay to let him win sometimes. He also has a good grasp of "give" and the game ends when I want it to.
     
  18. dogsarebetter

    dogsarebetter EVIL SHELTIES!!!!

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    I think my dogs are very great tug buddies. they both have lots of drive to tug, but I have never had a problem with them at all. I remember when I first starting playing tug with Ruckus.... he would not tug. He was highly concerned that it was not a game he should play. like tugging an object that I was holding was against the rules. It was just last year when we brought Lynn into our house that he realized tug was a fun game. Lynn caught on to tug right away!

    they both like the flirt pole more. We tug with the flirt pole too.
     
  19. mom2dogs

    mom2dogs New Member

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    I'm assuming this was posted because of what I said?
    The majority of tug games are with me sitting on the floor, and yep, I do drag her from one side to the other (there is no "hard" shaking back and forth quickly) if that could cause her to develop neck issues, I think I'm screwed as she is much harder on her body in other ways without me than that would ever be.

    and if it wasn't posted without influence of my post, oh well, there's a more detailed description so people don't think I'm shaking my dog's head off ;)
     
  20. dogsarebetter

    dogsarebetter EVIL SHELTIES!!!!

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    I dont "Shake" the dogs hard, but I do drag them. I even take off slowly jogging on the hard wood floor pulling Lynn along. LOL
     

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