Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

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Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby woodskiff » Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:45 am

I saw a "puppy comes home" video by Standing Stone Kennels this morning. In it, the trainer says it's ok to play tug of war with a young pup because it engages the dog with the handler involving an object. She said they "condition" any bad behaviors related to this out of the dog later.

I've trained retrievers for my own use and all my books (books... yes, I'm that old) say TOW is a no-no. They say it will cause the dog to be hard mouthed, to be bird possessive, to try to steal birds from other dogs.

I'm picking up my DD pup this weekend and I want to start off on the right foot. I know force fetching might derail some of these things, but I don't want to waste my time or the dogs "untraining" bad habits later.
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Re: Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby Densa44 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:10 pm

Good question, why teach things that you never want the dog to do in the first place? I have lots of ways to engage with my dogs and have never felt the need to play tug of war with a dog.
If anyone here has tried this and has a positive out come , I'd like to hear it, I'm not too old to learn.
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Re: Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby Dmog » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:23 pm

I think you have to read your pup to determine if TOW will be a problem or not. I have also had the advice not to do it but in practice, I have done it in limited amounts and the kids have definitively played that game with my Griff and PP. They are both submissive dogs that are very cooperative and developed no problems nor do I believe they would have. They knew the difference between play and birds. Now had these pups shown a strong possession behavior that a pinch to the lip didn't fix, then Tug of War would have been not allowed. I think the fact the dogs are not allowed to eat until I let them reinforces the Pack Hierarchy that I think plays into the pup's behavior with birds. I haven't seen the video so does tug of war accomplish anything of benefit other than bonding and letting of some energy? I doubt it, so not doing it probably is safer than overdoing it. I am Pro Standing Stone Kennels and like a lot of their training methods. One I have done first hand is the belly collar method of steadiness. I am a believer in the ease of this method especially if incorporated with the "Positive Pigeon" drills. You need a lot of pigeons or good homers with their training methods and I find "Perfect Start" training to be more bird economical.
Last edited by Dmog on Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby Kiger2 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:13 pm

Ive done it with all my pups. Besides positive interaction I use it to instill the drop command, work on sit, and instill the off switch. Get the game started, then stop it by telling pup "drop" as you reach back and pull on the loose skin in front of where the rear leg attaches to the body. This causes the pup let go of the tug and reach back to your hand.No having to pinch the gums so less chance of a hand shy issue. As they get conditioned they will start dropping before your hand can touch them and the on command. Then have pup sit briefly and start again. For me the biggest benefit is the off switch and getting pup to understand they have rules to follow. Sit and Drop can easily be trained later, but getting the off switch started early has benefits. We also let pups have stuffed toys, just no squeakers.
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Re: Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby mastercaster » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:03 pm

Personally, I've never done any TOW with my griff but if she is playing with one of her doggy friends they often engage in TOW with a stick they might find on the ground and she usually wins even though her Weimaraner friend outweighs her by a good 15 pounds. That being said, she has a soft mouth and has never damaged any retrieved birds.
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Re: Opinions on tug of war with a pup?

Postby reader4 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:20 pm

I think it's great in moderation. Fun play and challenges them physically. I prefer it as a form of play-training. Like Kiger2, we turn it into a game of learning control. "Take-it" -- play -- "leave-it" or "drop" -- repeat. I'm a believer in teaching that there are some things okay to take, and I'll tell you when, as a sort of yang to the yin of "leave-it". "Take-it" can also be useful during trained retrieve.
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