Recently I went to a free workshop with Your Dog's Friend, where I learned not only how to engage in tug of war safely, but also how to use it as a great training aid to exercise dogs, bond with them, and teach them to control their impulses.
The basic outline is this:
- Get your dog engaged in tugging with a sturdy toy
- With the hand that's tugging with your dog, go limp. The hand remains on the toy but stops providing any resistance. With the other hand, reach out and hold your dog's collar.
- With the hand and the toy limp, the dog will realize that the game is much less fun. Be patient and she will most likely drop the toy.
- The second she does, say "Yes!" and take your hand off the collar, and start engaging in tug again. Encourage your dog and make it happy and fun.
- Repeat until you are both tired. When its time to stop for good, drop the toy, say All done!, and walk away.
You can find a very detailed, more complex outline of how to use tug of war as a training tool here.
What's been YOUR experience with tug of war? Do your dogs like it, and can you get them to disengage when it's time to stop?