Dogs loves to play tug. It’s a fast moving game that’s extremely stimulating. This dog game is physically exhausting for dogs and pet owners, so it’s best to follow a few tug toy safety tips to keep everyone safe. Grab your dog’s favorite tug toy and start tugging!
Never Pick Up Your Dog During Tug
When a dog is tugging on a toy, never pick her up off the ground. This tug maneuver wreaks havoc on a dog’s neck, shoulders and teeth, and it can cause permanent damage. Make sure every family member and your friends understand that dogs must keep all four feet on the ground to continue playing tug.
Placement of Dog Tug Toy Matters
Placement of your dog’s tug toy, during a game of tug, matters. While attending a dog training conference, Dr. Christine Zink DVM recommended holding tug toys to work different muscle groups.
For example, she recommends holding a tug toy level with your dog’s shoulders to work her rear end. When dogs are using their rear muscles to pull, you can see their behind and back doing most of the pulling work.
To work your dog’s shoulders and neck, hold a tug toy above her head. When dogs pull downward, their neck and shoulders are getting a workout. If your dog has previous neck or back injuries, use this information to adjust tug playing placement. Of course, if your dog has an injury, ask your veterinarian if your dog is able to play tug first because this game is a workout.
Dog Tug Toy Rules
As with everything, there’s a set of rules pet owners and dogs must follow to keep everyone safe. If, and when, your dog chokes up on the tug toy (i.e. grabs the toy closer to your hand), let go of the toy and end the session.
Playing tug with your dog has nothing to do with dominance; it’s just a game. Dogs learn quickly that tug is only fun when pet owners are pulling on the opposite end. If your dog refuses to let go of the tug toy, just drop your end and walk away. Also, it’s normal for dogs to growl while playing tug. It’s fun! If, at anytime, you become uncomfortable, just drop the toy to end the session.