Dog owners often ask if it’s ok to play “tug” with their dog. I know some dog trainers/behaviorist believe it is not a good idea. I have a little different opinion; and not being one to ever hold back my opinion, here it comes!

I think dogs love to play tug and it can be a great reward for them. However, I also think it is not a good idea to engage in a struggle (as viewed by the dog) that the human will most likely loose (as viewed by the dog) with a dog that does not already see that human as a strong, respectful parent or very highly-valued family member. Have you, as the parent, taught all kid and dog family members that all done actually means all done? The parent must always come out the leader, the provider of respectful guidance, in any interaction with a dog or human child. Don’t play the game unless you can stop the game on a good note whenever you need to. Don’t start playing tug with a rope bone unless you have taught your dog when you say Give, Release or All Done, he must immediately relinquish the toy; the first time you say it. Teaching dogs and children all done means all done enables you, the parent, to keep everyone safe and keeps your dog understanding that you are; in fact, still the parent. You should not have to chase the dog down and wrestle him into submission (bad idea anyway!) to get the toy back. First teach the release term starting on a small scale and then increase the intensity of the play. Your dog should understand no matter how intense the game; or how long it goes on, when you say “All Done,” you actually mean “All Done.”