Playing Tug With Your Dog – everything you need to know

Robert Cabral Blog, Dog Training Leave a Comment

Playing tug with your dog is one of the most rewarding interactions  you can do.  But understanding how to play tug is very frustrating, often for dog and human.  In this post I’d like to break down how to play tug for fun and learning and to build the relationship between you and your dog.

The game of tug stems from a dog’s prey drive – that is the desire to seek, find, chase and kill to eat.  It is this same “drive” that we look to harness when playing most any game with a dog such as retrieve.  However, unlike retrieve, tug is continued when the dog is with us.  Tug engages some of the defensive drives of the dog as he play fights with us while playing tug!  Not all dogs will play tug just like not all dogs will retrieve.  To engage a dog in a proper game of tug, you will need a certain type of dog (and I don’t mean specific breed).  Not all personalities will play tug.  Our dog Jimi wants nothing to do with it, but Goofy and Maya LOVE it!

For tug to be a fun game, the dog has to know he can win.  However, to keep a dog from controlling the game, we have to win.  So how do we sort that out?  I’ve done numerous videos on playing tug with your dog and I’ll insert them below, since a picture is worth a thousand words.  In this post, I will simply give you the overall theory and instruction and ask you to watch the videos below to become better acquainted with playing tug.

Again, I want to stress that not all dogs will be a fit for the game of tug.  Dogs with a low defense drive such as very soft dogs are not good candidates for the game.  Dogs that are too possessive or dominantly aggressive are also not good candidates.  You’ll see many obedience dogs, search and rescue dogs and police dogs playing tug.  They have the correct drive.  if your dog doesn’t seem to like the game after you’ve worked with him, consider going to an obedience or sport dog (such as IPO or Mondio Ring) club to learn more before you give up.

These Videos Will Teach You How to Enjoy Playing Tug

#1 In this video I spell out Why I Love the game of Tug with my Dog:

#2 In this video I spell out the very Basics of Playing Tug with Your Dog:

#3 In this video I discuss one of the trickiest topics, How to Get the Dog to OUT the Toy:

#4 Here’s a good explanation of How to End the Game of Tug:

There are other videos on my YOUTUBE Channel that deal with tug and you can do a quick search by clicking here to be directed to my YouTube Channel.  Be sure to subscribe so that you will receive updates of all new videos.  The channel is updated daily with new videos.

Remember, it is my mission to help you better understand your dog and to give all dogs a fair chance at a good life.  Thanks for being a part of this mission!


All the best,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *