top of page


Should this game be forbidden?

Recommendations abound advising pet owners to avoid this game, as it can easily go wrong if not played carefully.



This game can be a great energy outlet and awesome reward. It can help build self-control and cooperative play, or it can be a major contributing factor in lack of impulse control when the game goes awry.

Teach the Rules of the Game


Self-control. No matter how long ...

you must wait ...




Patiently waiting

for the signal for the game to begin ...

This level of self control, can be taught through tug games!

The dog must wait until specifically told he may







The game continues until the human gives the cue to "drop it." When given the drop cue, the dog should let go promptly.  Stop and play controlled fetch games in between tugs.


The tug game can reward a nice delivery to hand.  If during the game he runs off with the toy, don't chase him down or try to wrestle it out of his mouth.  The game should be more fun when you have the other end of the toy.


Use tug as a reward. Following a series of well-performed cues, a toy can be a great jackpot for great work. 



Take breaks between tug sessions. This will keep his arousal/excitement in check if he is likely to ramp up and get mouthy.  The game stops if he accidentally touches skin.  If you ask for a drop and he can't, take more frequent breaks and keep the game a bit calmer so he can follow your cues.


A nice "drop" can be rewarded with a game of fetch.

More resources: 

Excellent article from the San Francisco SPCA on tug of war!
Another great article: "Dog Tugging Games Stimulate Performance"!

See also:

Good Games, Bad Games
How to Play with Your Dog


More about how to play with your dog: Intelligent Diversions & Creative Play!


This handout courtesy of © CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF"
Training for Dogs & Their People (509) 325-7833 
ditr_training @ -




bottom of page