Playing tug with your dog is an excellent way to build confidence in your dog or puppy. This is a crucial step in confidence building. Building confidence in dogs is something we focus on at Off Leash K9 Training London.
Not all dogs have interest in playing tug or with a ball. That is completely fine and there is nothing wrong with your dog. It is very important to understand specific breed traits and characteristics before you get a dog or puppy. Identify the traits of the breed that best fit your lifestyle and select a dog based on a good match. This will help ensure both you and your dog are happy.
To increase your dog’s motivation for the tug (or ball or toy), ensure your dog does not have full access. Your dog should only see the tug when you want to play. This dramatically increases the value of the tug. If dogs have full access to a toy anytime they want, the value of the toy is diminished. The tug should be viewed like a treat or prized possession, meaning your dog has limited access.
During training, we give the tug to the dog when they are doing something good. It is a reward for good behaviour. For obedience training, we will “mark” the good behaviour and then immediately reward with a quick game of tug. Once the game of tug has ended, we immediately start training again. Avoid letting your dog use it as a chew toy. The tug is a reward, but be mindful not to overtrain with this object. You do not want your dog to lose interest in tug due to overuse. Stop playing when your dog is still showing interest. This helps increase excitement and drive for the next tug session.
There is a myth that playing tug with your dog can lead to aggression. This is absolutely false. When playing tug as described above, it builds confidence since it is used as a reward. Another myth is that you should always “win” at tug with your dog to show you are the alpha. This is another false belief. If you alway “win” at tug, it will lower your dog’s confidence and your dog may become less interested in playing. Similar to teaching a child any new game – let them win to building their interest and confidence. The exact same is true for dogs. Letting your dog win at tug increases interest and confidence.
Make tug fun and engaging. It is something you both can enjoy together. Have fun with your dog and find activities that matches your dog’s drive. To see videos of our confidence building, please visit our YouTube Channel.