tug of war,tug of war dog toy

How to Properly Play Tug of War with Your Dog

Tug of war is a fantastic way to bond, exercise, and play with your dog!

But do you know the rules and tips to ensure the game is fun and safe for you and your furry friend? Below is an easy guide to mastering the art of tug of war with your pup!

Why Play Tug of War?

Why should you even consider playing tug of war with your dog? Besides being a great way to tire out an energetic pup, it offers other distinct benefits:

tug of war,tug of war dog toy
Traditional Tug of War Dog Rope Toy (Available at Tiny Dog LLC)
  • Physical Exercise: It helps burn off that extra energy, especially for working and sporting K9 breeds.
  • Impulse Control: Helps avoid destructive behavioral issues as the dog learns self-control.
  • Building Confidence: Confidence is especially beneficial for shy dogs. It can also help dogs focus and engage while ignoring distractions.
  • Mental Stimulation: Tug of war challenges your dog to think and react by tapping into natural K9 drives.
  • Bonding: It strengthens the bond between you and your dog, fostering trust and mutual respect.

Tug of War: The “Right” Way to Play!

tug of war,tug of war dog toy
Ruff Dawg’s Super Tug Dog Toy (Available at Tiny Dog LLC)
  • Choose the Right Toy
    Not just any toy will do. Choose a durable, sturdy tug toy made for dogs. Rope toys or specially designed tug toys work best. Avoid anything too small that could be swallowed or too rough that might hurt your dog’s teeth or gums.
  • Set the Ground Rules
    Before you start, establish some essential boundaries and rules:
    • Start and End Commands
      Teach your dog commands like “take it” to start and “drop it” to stop. This keeps the game controlled and reinforces your role as the leader.
    • No Teeth on Skin
      If your dog’s teeth contact your skin, immediately stop the game! This teaches your dog bite control and how to be gentle, especially as a young puppy.
    • Engage in Fair Play
      Make sure the game is fun for your dog. Allow them to win sometimes. This doesn’t mean you’re losing control; it keeps the game enjoyable and encourages your dog to engage. According to the American Kennel Club, occasionally letting your dog win can boost their confidence and motivation to play again.
tug of war,tug of war dog toy
Large Right Dog Engaging in Tug Of War (Image by Alex Dos Santos, Pexels)

Properly Playing Tug of War

  • Initiating the Game: Hold the tug toy and get your dog excited about it. Wiggle it around, make it a bit of a chase, and use your “take it” command. Once your dog grabs hold, let the fun begin!
  • During the Game: As you play, keep the following in mind:
    • Stay Grounded: Keep the tug toy low to avoid any neck injuries to your canine. Do not lift your dog off the ground or swing them around!
    • Read Your Dog: Pay attention to your dog’s body language. If they seem too intense or overly aggressive, take a time-out to allow your dog to relax and calm down.

Ending the Game

Use your “drop it” command to end the game. Reward your dog with a treat or praise when they let go of the toy. This reinforces good behavior and makes ending the game a positive experience.

After the Game

Once the game ends, give your dog some water and let them cool down. Tug of war is a workout, and your pup might need some serious rest afterward. But remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!

tug of war,tug of war dog toy
DOOG Fetch-ables Fetch-A-Tug Dog Toy  (Available at Tiny Dog LLC)


Tug of war is more than just a fun game; it’s a valuable training tool and a great way to deepen your relationship with your dog. You can enjoy countless hours of playful tugging with your best friend by setting clear rules and playing safely. So, grab that toy, get a good grip, and let the games begin!

Remember, every dog is different. Some might take to tug of war immediately, while others might need a bit of coaxing. Be patient, keep it fun, and enjoy the fun!

Now, go forth and tug with your furry best friend! 🐾

Tiny Dog Pet Supplies Logo
tug of war,tug of war dog toy
The Country Tails Dog Toy Cow Rope Ring (Available at Tiny Dog LLC)

Tiny Dog Pet Supplies
is your one-stop shop for all things “dog” under one WOOF!

Tiny Dog has affordable toys, like the tug toy pictured on the left, to keep your dog happy and engaged for hours.

How can we help you?
Feel free to call us at 423-726-2313,
or email Myra at Myra@TinyDogLLC.com
or Kevin at Kevin@TinydogLLC.com today!

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