To Tug oe Not to Tug, that is the Question?

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

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Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 4:33pm PST 
Maggie I get her emails and the last one about tugging made me think it and why I started this thread. While she makes some valid points I just dont think its that black and white and I see nothing wrong with doing something that dog really likes as its reward and not just tugging. I knew a JRT who the owner wanted it to play flyball, the dog would do the entire behavior but when the dog came back he did not want to tug and would run a muck, they tried like crazy to teach the dog to tug, finally they figured out by accident actually that the dog LOVED tennis balls but he also like going into a bucket. So they put a tennis ball in a bucket and the dog ran back for a tennis ball in a bucket. His reward was a tennis ball in a bucket. I used to run my Callie for roasted turkey, she thought tugging was kind of dumb and would do it as long as she had roasted turkey. Why must it be tugging? I get it, I do but if my dog thinks his ball or floppy is the greatest thing since meatballs, I say use that.

I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 5:53pm PST 
OMG! Moose goes crazy for tug. As a matter of fact, we just got done with an impromptu game of it and he got so incredibly wound up, he started doing zoomies with wet paws and was slip slidin' away, so I had to put him in his crate to calm down. Tug really gets him riled up.

He'll bring his tug rope up to me 2-3 times a day. And of course he wants to play tug right around bedtime.

I think I'll start incorporating tug into training as a reward.
Maggie,- Tika, &- Porter

Aussie-tastic- Trio
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 6:58pm PST 
My dogs love to tug, but it is not a reward they will do anything for. My dogs would honestly rather have food or chase something and that is what I use. One of the agility trainers I go to is heavy in the tug reward, sadly my dogs would rather eat. Maggie loves the formal retrieve and when I am working obedience with her I always save the exercise for last as it is a fun reward for her.

I did find a lightweight disc looking thing that Tika will tug with for short periods of time, I find tugging a lot easier for some things so I would like her to find it to be somewhat of a reward.


I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 7:58pm PST 
I use food, tugging, and fetch, but by far her favourite reward is a ball.

I ended up putting two of her chuck-it balls on ropes so that we can do a tug/fetch combo with the same toy. Her eyes just light up when that toy comes out! smile

I have a tug toy that doubles as a food reward...the part where the dog latches on is actually a velcro'ed pocket where one can stash some food. A great concept, but not my mutt's cup of tea.

Also, what works for Rexy also heavily depends on the environment and the distractions we're encountering. Out on walks, tug does not work and fetch isn't doable, so I use food. I mix it up for agility and OB class as that's what keeps her engaged and eager. When we're hiking on a longline though, then it's tug and fetch all the way, phooey to food! laugh out loud

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:34pm PST 
Balls can be great if the dog actually brings them back I have a dog that is over the roof for balls but he's slow to bring back and would prefer to walk back chomping them or just lay down and chomp it. I tug with him, it's interactive and something he does "with" me. (and is cheaper than buying a ball that will take him less than 5 minutes to destroy)

I don't think you Have to tug but tug can bring drive up in some situations and it is a great way to reward without adding food to the equation.

I'd say do what your dog liked... but if I followed that philosophy I'd have to throw a cat or duck to Shay who would rather herd something than breath. Actually Spirit's similar in a more intense less interested in the cat way. Sadly both of them have no 'play' drive don't fetch don't tug, and in Shay's case is only limited interested in food. Spirit at least likes food.

Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:44pm PST 
Well I can't very well give Wyatt a rat to tug on either, lol so we have to come up with other ways to make him happy. The thing about just doing treats in agility is it does not allow the dog to drive through and look ahead, they are always looking for you. I found the ball or floppy for Huck to work very wellto drive him forward and it actually taught him to power through his weave poles and even look ahead instead of always looking back at me. I just think if there is something that the dog really gets excited over(besides killing small creatures) its better to use that then get a ho hum response to tugging.

Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 9:18pm PST 
"Balls can be great if the dog actually brings them back I have a dog that is over the roof for balls but he's slow to bring back and would prefer to walk back chomping them or just lay down and chomp it. I tug with him, it's interactive and something he does "with" me. (and is cheaper than buying a ball that will take him less than 5 minutes to destroy)"

That's why so many trainers like the tug. "Engagement" is the buzz word for most of the time and it keeps the dog into *you* and not into taking the toy away to play with on their own. (As you know Happy... yay M.E. laugh out loud)

You'd think it was a subtle difference but as I have a dog who is very into me but could give a flip about any toys that aren't in my hand, I can say tug is the best thing ever. I throw something and she'll bring it back but her reward is tug with the object, not the object itself if that makes sense.

There is really good reasoning but if it doesn't work for your dog, so be it. There is always more than one way to teach or reward. No need to get hung up on the semantics of it all. smile

I actually got Zephyr hooked by playing keep away. Her favorite tug toys of all things are those skineez stuffing free fake animals but she really likes her bungee tugs too. If I really want to amp her up the flirt pole comes out and then we tug for a few minutes afterwards.

Edited by author Tue Apr 10, '12 9:23pm PST

Hucky and- Ringo

Barked: Thu Apr 12, '12 11:12am PST 
I don't play tug with my boys cause they'll pull me to the ground, but they play with each other and they play hard and rough. Huck is 130 lbs and Ringo 85 lbs. They will both give it their all and pull each other around.This goes on almost every night. I don't believe that it causes "hard mouth". As rough as they are with their tug rope, last year Huck couldn't have been more gentler with a baby bird that fell out of nest when he brought it to me then I could have been if I found it first.

Edited by author Thu Apr 12, '12 11:16am PST

Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Fri Apr 13, '12 9:29am PST 
Charks and I train (agility) in a couple of venues. In one, the instructor also reads Garrett's blog... and believes all dogs must tug. In the other venue, the instructor is more of a pragmatist and believes in modifying the reward to fit the dog.

Charka? Well, SHE believes that there is not a food treat out there that can match a good tug. She likes to retrieve but really, Really, REALLY hopes that we can play tug with that toy before she has to go fetch it again.

My own feeling in this is that you use what works with your dog. Where the instructor insists the dogs learn to tug... it can be very frustrating for people whose dogs do not get their jollies in this way. It seems slightly crazy if it takes a larger amount of time to train the reward than it does to train the behavior using other reward schemes. Agility IS a team sport and works best where you know your own pup.

... IMHO
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