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3 Reasons You Should Play Tug With Your Dog

Whether it’s in a dog training class or from doggy friends, chances are you’ll have heard dog owners and experts alike raving about the results that playing tug can achieve with all breeds. 

But why is playing tug with your dog such a good idea? What are the benefits of playing tug? 

As creators of the very best tug toys around, we want to share three reasons why dog owners should consider playing tug with their dog...

It taps into your dog’s natural urges

You’ve probably noticed that your dog seems to instinctively like to grab things with their mouth (and perhaps even pull). That’s because mouthing and pulling is part of the innate prey drive which every dog has. After all, all our domesticated dogs are descended from wolves and wild dogs. 

Rather than trying in vain to eradicate the urge to playfully use their mouth (which won’t work and is likely to result in unwanted behaviours), it’s a much better idea to use a game of tug as a safe and controlled outlet for your dog’s instinctive urges. 

By regularly engaging in an interactive game of tug, it can help avoid your dog seeking other ways to satisfy the urge to mouth and pull - such as by chewing on your favourite pair of shoes or your new sofa.

It’s important that the tug toy you use for playing tug is motivational for your dog. Every dog is different - some dogs find the unique scent and texture of dog toys made with real (responsibly sourced) rabbit skin or sheepskin irresistible, whereas others prefer faux fur or fleece tuggies. Keep reading to discover some tips on working out which toys are best for your dog. 

It strengthens your bond

We recently surveyed more than 2,800 dog owners and a whopping 80% of them told us one of the main reasons they play tug with their dog is because it boosts the bond they share.

So why is tug so bond-boosting? When you play tug with your dog, you are giving them your undivided attention (their favourite thing) and you’re actively engaging in an activity they love. Playing tug together is fun and it helps you learn what makes each other tick - so it’s no surprise that tug is a fantastic way to make the connection you share with your dog even more powerful. 

Experts agree that dogs and owners that have stronger bonds train better and enjoy happier lives together - so it’s worth putting in the effort.

It teaches essential skills

Once your dog learns to love playing tug (and it’s totally normal for some dogs to take time to ‘learn’ to enjoy it), a game with their favourite tug toy becomes a super high value reward. For many dogs, tug is even higher value than the tastiest of treats. 

This means your dog will be willing to work harder during training in return for the reward of a game of tug. We’ve seen thousands of dog owners successfully train a bulletproof recall using a Tug-E-Nuff toy, such as the Sheepskin Chaser, as a reward. A pocket tug toy, like the Pocket Magnet, is a great option for eradicating distractions while out on walks and ensuring your dog only has eyes for you. Sheepskin tug toys like our Wondabaa Bungee can be brilliant for teaching tricks or commands like ‘sit’ and ‘leave’ and food-based tugs like the Bungee Food Bag can boost results in sports like flyball and agility. 

Are there any downsides?

Despite its growing popularity, there are still some people out there who believe playing tug is a bad idea, fearing it's dangerous and can make dogs aggressive, over-excited or more likely to chase wildlife. But none of these things have any basis in truth. 

If tug is played correctly, there aren’t any downsides. Playing tug is a fantastic training tool that channels the natural instincts within every dog into positive action.

We’d recommend reading our deep dive blog on the link between prey drive and play drive, and our article on why tug doesn’t encourage dogs to chase wildlife.

OK, I want to play tug. Where do I start? 

You can’t play tug without a quality, motivational tug toy - and that’s where we come in. 

All dogs are different, of course, but we have collections of toys that are particularly useful for solving certain problems…

Toys to improve recall

Toys to boost motivation 

Toys that help build a strong bond

Toys for food-obsessed dogs

We also have articles with our top pick toys for big and medium-size dogs, small dogs and for various breeds, including spaniels, collies, retrievers, cockapoos and more

Plus, check out our video guide packed with tips for getting started playing tug and look forward to getting our free Complete Guide To Tug with your first order!

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