How To Play Tug Of War With Your Dog To Engage Prey Drive

Posted: February 26, 2015 in Dog Training Methods and Ideas
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tug of war reuse

I am sure you have probably heard from one trainer or the other that you should not play tug of war with your dog.

Some trainers say you can play tug with your dog but you must never let them win.

 

What I teach people about playing tug of war with their dogs is in direct contradiction to the thinking of conventional dog training. I play the game based on the premise that all the things your dog does has a direct connection to their prey drive and their desire to hunt, and the more value an object has, the more attracted and emotional your dog becomes when they see that object, and if your dog catches, bites and eats that object then there is a certain amount of stress relief that the dog will experience.

Let’s examine this for a moment..

For the sake of argument let’s place a dollar value to some of the prey items your dog finds valuable..with regard to how emotional energized and attracted your dog will be to each object.

When a dog sees a mouse scurry through the grass, he might become attracted and give chase..and while it is fun to stalk and pounce on a mouse and eat it..the dollar value to your dog is about 1 Canadian dollar.. or as we call it..a loonie.

That’s cool, your dog experiences a small reduction in stress levels, and your dog will most likely do it again if he sees a mouse.

Later that afternoon your dog sees a rabbit, or a squirrel, now things are heating up..he gives chase and if he catches the squirrel or rabbit and eats it.. he experiences a bigger rush of “good feelings” and stress reduction, and that is like depositing 10 loonies or so in the dogs emotional doggie bank.

The next day your dog sees a moose, suddenly every nerve in his body lights up with an emotional charge like nothing he has experienced up to this point.. in terms of money..he has just seen 10 million loonies worth of energy and emotion head off into the brush..and if he could only catch the moose and eat him..his stress would totally disappear and he would be the happiest dog on the planet.

You can see how it would benefit you as a dog owner to learn how to be the moose in the eyes of your dog,.. you don’t want to be the mouse, or the rabbit or squirrel, those prey items are fun but don’t attract your dogs emotions and, feelings like a moose, buffalo, or caribou would.

One of the ways you can begin to be the moose is to play tug of war with your dog, the only thing is you must ALWAYS let your dog win..no exceptions.

Here is a step by step guide to playing tug of war with your dog

1. Don’t stand face to face with your dog or smile a lot,.. humans are the top predators and this posture and showing your teeth will make your dog defensive and we want him to be in prey drive, so stand sideways, don’t smile, and don’t look him in the eye.

2. Get two tug toys…I like to use two foot lengths of rope tied in many knots. Put one in your back pocket or tuck it under your arm so you will have one to play with and get your dogs attention when your he or she don’t want to bring the one they have back..when your dog drops the one he has and turns his attention to you..tug and pull with him and when he runs off with that one, pick up the one he dropped and begin the game again.

3. With your dog on a 30 foot long line begin the game slowly, stay relaxed, make sure there are no other distractions, like other dogs playing or kids running around, and be sure to be on your game and paying attention..this game requires your dog to bite hard and if they miss the toy..you might get bit..but if you are careful, this doesn’t have to happen… tease your dog with the tug and entice him to bite it..this might take some time especially with nervous, timid dogs who have built up anxiety and stress..but keep at it..act like the mouse or the rabbit…run away waving the tug, lay down and roll around like a prey animal, and keep teasing your dog with the tug..he will bite it at some point.

4. Amp up your emotions and use your voice to get your dog into prey drive..say things like..” Get it boy”, Sic a hold on it,” or” bite that thang.”

5. If your dog starts to growl a lot then that is not a good thing, this means your dog is afraid he is going to lose the war..so you should quickly let him win.

Winning means he gets to run away with the toy.

A little growling is o,k. just don’t let things get out of hand.

6. When your dog bites on the tug, pull smoothly, don’t jerk hard,,and keep the play session short so your dog don’t get bored..once you have reached a place where your dog is pulling and biting hard try to time it so you release the toy when your dog tugs hard on it..so that to your dog is seems like he earned it and you are not just giving in to him..they can tell the difference.

7. When you are ready to end the game, have a piece of chicken some tasty treat in your pocket, take it out and offer it to your dog, they will take the treat and you can gather up the tug toys..and put them away until the next time you want to work with your dog.

* It is important that the game ends with you having possession of the toys, once you get home put the toys away out of sight of your dog until the next time you bring them out to play.

There you have it, if you have any questions about how to play tug of war to engage your dogs prey drive, tell me about it in the comment section below, thanks for visiting my blog and make sure to come back often.

All the best,

Harley

 

 

 

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