Training With Respect & Understanding
correctly. It is something fun to do and offers a good opportunity for training as well. You as leader control access to all
of  the good things that your dog likes. Your dog learns from Rule #2 that his good behavior of sitting and waiting to
play gets him the tug game! A good clean game of tug can be used to reinforce and reward a job well done, a good
agility run, a come when called and more. Tug can teach self-control and can redirect a bored dog to an appropriate

Rule #1: You start the game - take the toy from it’s hiding place.

Rule #2: Holding the toy, ask for a sit. If your dog lunges or jumps up, say “too bad” and turn away. Do this until your
dog figures out what works.

Rule #3: Hold the toy towards your dog and invite him to tug. Use the same words everytime like “tug it!”

Rule #4: Test your dog’s “drop it” command. Make sure that before your dog gets too aroused, he can let it go. To
start up the game again, repeat Rules #2 and 3.

To teach a “drop it” with an object exchange. Start with a lower-value item from your dog’s
perspective. Hold a smelly, yummy treat under your hungry dog's nose. When he drops the toy, praise
or use your reward marker and give the treat. Immediately return the dropped toy with a "take it" command. After a few
repetitions of this say "drop it" as your dog is letting the toy or item fall from his mouth to teach him the meaning of the
command. Do lots of repetitions over the next few days. Slowly progress to more valuable items and you can fade out
the food lure after your dog gets the game.

Rule #5: If your dog’s teeth hit you at any point while tugging - yell “OUCH!!” and turn away, taking the toy with you.
Take a brief time-out - the length of which depends on how bad the teeth transgression. Start up again with Rules #2
and 3.

Rule #6: Periodically stop the game and ask for a “drop it” and a “watch” for attention. This reinforces that the game
comes from you and is a reward for polite behavior. It gives everyone a chance to catch their breath.

Rule #7: At the end of the tug session, put the toy away.

CAUTIONS: Only use dog toys, not any of your items. Young children should not play this game. Dominant aggressive or
toy resource guarders should not either. Only tug side-to-side and be gentle with old and young dogs. If you are unsure
about the safety of tug with your dog, check with your veterinarian.
The 7 Rules of Playing Tug of War

Training Tips article
by Cherie Maitland