Message Us

To Tug or Not to Tug?

By AndrewThomas. | Activities for Your Dog Dog Info

Tug Play With Your DogWasn't it Shakespeare who wrote, "To tug or not to tug, that is the question...?" Yes I know... a bad joke... but why is it so commonly believed that you shouldn't play tug with your dog or, if you do play tug, that you should NEVER let the dog 'win'?

This belief seems to be one of many that continue to exist even though the behaviour theory it stems from (relating to social hierarchy) was invalidated years ago.

So should you play tug with your dog or not?

The answer is: It depends. I say "it depends" because... let's face facts... despite the labels and generalizations that people apply, every dog is a unique combination of its own "˜nature and nurture,' so there isn't a convenient one-size-fits-all summation that applies here. For many dogs, playing tug with their humans can be good exercise and a really great way to relationship-build through play, but not all dogs may do well with this type of vigorous activity. Some dogs can get too aroused with tug play which can then lead to the display of impulsive behaviours and the inability for the dog to 'switch off.' Accordingly, it's important to set some boundaries and to differentiate between appropriate tug play and inappropriate tug play. If your dog cannot play tug in an appropriate manner, then you should find other activities that you and your dog can participate in successfully. Impulse control is something that needs to be learned (and practiced), so rather than having a marathon session of tug play, try breaking it up into smaller 'chunks'. By that, I mean intersperse playing tug with some another type of activity (or activities) your dog will enjoy. For example, play tug for a little while but then stop to do something new that your dog actually has to use her brain to think about... like playing "˜find it' or working on a few obedience cues you can positively reinforce. After having that little interlude, you can go back to another brief round of tug play (rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat). This type of 'Switch On/Switch Off' playtime activity can help your dog to develop (or enhance) her self-control skills. If your dog does get too aroused to tug in an appropriate manner, that might just be an indication that you should start working on some 'mouth' related impulse control activities. A good place to start would be training 'leave it' and/or 'drop it' cues and then, who knows, perhaps you may even be able to graduate your dog back to the point of playing tug in a more appropriate manner.

Now what about the notion of NEVER allowing your dog to win when playing tug?

Seriously, what's the fun of playing if you never get to win, right? As long as tug play is proceeding in an appropriate manner, I think it's fair to let the dog 'win' the game 50% of the time... which, for the dog, is unpredictable enough to keep the game interesting and motivating. Tug Play With Your Dog and Dog Seat Covers: Cargo, Dog Bed Liner, Bed Cover: 30% Off Premium Seat Covers

andrew thomasAndrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas is a professional dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Langley, British Columbia in Canada. Having decided to formalize a lifetime worth of experience with dogs by gaining private certification and starting his business in 2010, Andrew's desire from the outset has been to do his part in helping to break the cycle of family dogs being given-up on, abandoned and even euthanized unnecessarily, due to behaviour issues. With a mission to help dog owners establish happy and rewarding relationships with their dogs, Andrew's philosophy and methodology are founded in modern behavioural science using force-free methods, and building human-canine relationships based on trust. Andrew strives to be a reasoned and informed voice in promoting and supporting animal welfare issues for canines and equines, and he is as a strong proponent of adoption and rescue.


Signup/Login to post a reply


Reviews From 4Knines Customers VIEW MORE »

The best evaluations of our products come from the people who’ve bought them.

bought two of these

Searched for different ones, decided on this one. Exceeded all expectations. Bought one for a new care and another for our 2004 4 runner. Provides good protection for vehicle and our 140 dog. We travel and camp extensively also good for bringing thing back form garden shop.

George Linhardt

Great product!

Does exactly what we wanted. We can easily raise a part of the seat to give our dogs better access to the rear seat of our pickup. And it's easily removed or installed when we need to put humans back there!

Michael Dean

Back Seat Cover for Subaru Impreza

Excellent quality and great customer service!

Alex Garcia-Osuna

Great covers

Not only are they great covers, 4knines has great customer service. Truly deserving of more than five stars.

Carmela DiCristofano

Great Cover - Great Company

The covers are absolutely the best and I have had quite a few over the years. I had a minor issue with my cover and asked if I could get it repaired. The response was: "Thank you for reaching out to us. Your cover is absolutely covered by 4Knines Lifetime Warranty!" I received a new one.

Bud Conner


This liner was so easy to install!! I love the way it fits and looks. My puppy also loves it.

Susan Frick

dog loves it

i don't have to fuss a the dog for clawing the door panels,a much more enjoyable ride for both of us.

Steven Walker

Perfect gift

I purchased this rear bench cover for a friend with two dogs that frequently accompany her to her barn. No problem with wet, muddy feet. Fits well and protects her investment in her car. The cover arrived promptly as promised.

Maribeth Hartin

For all general inquiries, please call or email us
Phone: 888.602.2509

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Nothing but the best for your best friend!
© 4Knines. 2017. All rights reserved | Terms | Privacy