Teach Your Dog Proper Tug Of War
The game of tug of war is believed by some to be detrimental to your dogs aggression. Some people believe that it can lead to more aggression in a dog's behavior. This just is not the case. If played properly, the game of tug of war can teach your dog a lot about what you expect from him. The game of tug of war is one of the best ways to "play train" your dog. When we say "play train" we mean that while you are playing this game with your dog you are simultaneously reinforcing other obedience commands, thus killing two birds with one stone.
The most important thing when it comes to tug of war, is to always let your dog win. Through doing so your going to be teaching your dog that no matter how energized they are -no matter how excited they are, it is safe for them to interact with you directly, closely, in that energized state.
Let's start the game
Take one of your dog's toys and see if your dog will grab hold and take it from your hand. Don't provide much if any resistance. Just let your dog win round number one with no real effort, and give your dog lots of praise.
During the second round add a little more resistance when your dog begins to tug at the toy and let him struggle a little bit, but remember to always allow your dog to win.
**A little bit of growling during this game is normal but if your dog becomes too aroused too fast and the growling becomes excessive then you are creating stress in your dog which can later produce aggression. This is why it is important to let your dog win the game.
Next step would be for you to teach your dog to trust you. During this game it is important that you have the ability to reach for the toy that is in your dogs mouth. While you are playing this game and he has the toy in his mouth, every once in a while, stop the pulling and begin to pet him and praise him. Do this calmly and you should notice your dogs excitement reach a calmer level. During this step, while the toy is still in his mouth touch the toy and continue to pet him and make him feel good. This will teach your dog that just because you are reaching for the toy and touching it, does not mean that you want to take it from him. Repeat this step at random times during the game of tug of war.
The final step would be for you to teach your dog to drop the toy on command. This teaches your dog that you decide what he can play with and when he can play. While you are playing the game and tugging away at the toy, stop the pulling. In other words, stop challenging your dog. Do not let go of the toy. Have a treat or a second toy ready in your other hand. Show your dog and say the command "drop it." If the treat or toy is interesting enough your dog will drop the toy in his mouth to get to what is in your other hand. As soon as he drops what is in his mouth reward him with either the treat or by giving him the other toy.
**Make sure that you always stop playing this game when your dog still wants more to build up excitement for the next time you play.