There is often times a lot of question and concern around the game of tug of war with our dogs and if playing this type of game will "make them more aggressive". The thought is that teaching the dog to play rough will bring out the aggressive side in him and then he will be more aggressive all around. Another theory is that this enhances the "dominance" in a dog and that he will believe he rules over you if/when he wins the game of tug. There is also a fear that in building up the value of the object and then being the one who always takes it away that you will somehow create an aggressive or possessive dog that now guards his toys and becomes physically aggressive towards you around these objects.
Most dogs we see now a days could actually use a good boost of self esteem and playing tug of war with your dog is a great way to help him gain confidence. The physical requirements of the game include a dog that is committed to making contact with the item and holding on. This means you don't want the dog to easily shy away which a lot of dogs do at first. This type of tug game can help build their self esteem in a fun and encouraging way which will allow your dog to enjoy himself and the game of tug pf war so much more.
For the dogs that are already a bit on the pushy side, playing tug of war offers an opportunity to test out your level of control over a dog who is usually in a highly excited state of mind. This is often times seemingly an impossibly daunting task. Most people around a confident dog like this will say things like "he won't drop it for anything" or "good luck getting it away from him". This speaks volumes about the level of respect that is or isn't present in their relationship which highlights how much there is to improve on.
I really do feel that playing tug of war with your dog is in fact, without a doubt, a good game to play with your dog! I think it benefits both sides of the coin and when done correctly, can truly enhance both your bond and your relationship with your dog.
As long as...
- Obedience Is Required- dog must perform command(s) first in order to get the toy as a reward
- Plays By The Rules- dog must drop the toy the second the “out” command is given
- Always Held Accountable- teeth hit skin and the game is over… no excuses
- End The Game On Your Terms- this means you win while the dog is still interested and wanting more
Then its a go... go have fun with your dog! :-)