Playing tug with your dog is a great way to build confidence in your dog or puppy. This is an important step in confidence building. Building confidence in dogs is something we focus on at Off Leash K9 Training San Luis Obispo.
Some dogs will not have any interest in playing tug or with a ball. That is okay and there is nothing wrong with your dog. It is important to understand the breed traits and characteristics before you get a dog or puppy. Match up the traits of the breed that fit your lifestyle and select a dog based on best fit. This will help ensure both you and your dog are happy.
To increase your dogs motivation for the tug (or ball or toy), make sure your dog does not have full access. Your dog should only have access to the tug when you want to play. This increases the value of the tug. If dogs have full access to a toy anytime they want, the value of the toy is decreased. The tug should be viewed like a treat, meaning your dog has limited access.
We give the tug to the dog when they are doing something good. For obedience training, we will “mark” the good behavior and then immediately reward with a quick game of tug. Once the game of tug is over, we immediately start training again. Avoid letting your dog use it as a chew toy. The tug is a reward but be mindful not to overtrain. You do not want your dog to lose interest in tug. Stop playing when he is still showing interest. This helps build up excitement and drive for the next tug session.
There is a myth that playing tug with your dog leads to aggression. This is false. When playing tug as described above, it builds confidence since it is used as a reward. Another myth is that you should always “win” at tug with your dog to show you are the alpha. This is another false belief. If you alway “win” at tug, it will lower your dog’s confidence. Similar to teaching a child a new game – you let them win sometimes to building their interest and confidence. The same is true for dogs. Let your dog win at tug to increase interest and confidence.
Make tug fun and engaging. It is something you can enjoy with your dog. Have fun with your dog and find activities to do that matches your dog’s drive. To see videos of our confidence building, please visit our YouTube Channel.