How to Play Tug of War With Your Dog

Sure, you probably want to cuddle with your dog on the couch, but sometimes you and your pet might crave a little more action. If you’ve ever seen a dog play with another dog, then you know that tug of war is a great way for dogs to run off some energy. So why not give it a try yourself? After all, tug of war can benefit both you and your dog. It’s good exercise for both of you, and it helps build up trust between the two of you. But how do you play tug of war in a way that’s safe for both of you? Here are some things to keep in mind if this is your first time playing tug:

Find a good tug toy.

  • Find a good tug toy. Tug toys are made of soft fabric, rubber or vinyl, rope and hard plastic. If a toy is made of rope it may be more difficult for your dog to grip and could hurt his mouth. Hard plastic toys should also be avoided because they can crack or break when chewed on.
  • Choose a safe spot in the house where you can play tug-of-war with your dog without breaking anything or getting injured by falling furniture pieces such as chairs or tables!

Teach your dog how to play tug of war.

Teaching your dog to play tug of war is a great way to bond with them. It will also help them learn how to be gentle and drop the toy when you tell them to.

First, get a sturdy rope toy for your dog. Then, stand with the dog so that you can hold both ends of the toy with your hands together above their head. Next, ask them “Can I have it?” as you try pulling on one end of the rope toy and dropping it when they grab onto it with their teeth. If they don’t drop this first time around, simply keep repeating this same process until they do understand what you want from them – which shouldn’t take very long at all!

Practice the “Drop It” or “Leave It” command.

If you’re going to play tug of war with your dog, it is important that they not only know how to let go when told to, but also how to drop the toy on command. This can help prevent injury and ensure that both you and your dog have a great time playing this fun game.

To teach this command:

  • Place a handful of treats in front of your dog (or if they are food motivated like mine, just put their favorite treat in front of them). Say “Drop It!” as soon as the treat hits their mouth. If they don’t release the toy immediately after hearing it then gently remove it from their mouth with two fingers and give them another verbal cue for dropping the item (e.g., “Leave It!”).
  • Repeat dropping items into their mouth until they get better at releasing items when commanded by you instead of simply relinquishing an item when something else comes along more appealing than what’s already in their mouth (i.e., another person walks into sight). Then try repeating this process while standing farther away from them so they can’t simply reach over and grab whatever object might distract them; try moving around too so that eventually your movement won’t distract them either—but only do so if it doesn’t feel like too much effort or stress on yourself since those things could lead back down a path towards negative behaviors again later down
  • Once they’ve shown enough improvement where even though an object appears visually appealing next door doesn’t mean he/she will abandon his current possession just yet; now move onto adding additional distractions such as people walking through sight lines or cars driving by outside windows–again though make sure you’re okay before increasing complexity levels because otherwise progress might slow down due t

Tug gently — don’t yank or pull hard.

  • Don’t pull too hard. The goal of tug of war is to have a good time, not to injure your dog or yourself. If you’re struggling to keep hold of the toy, slow down and take a deep breath. You can always try again another day with better leverage!
  • Don’t yank. Dogs are smart and fast — they can easily get out of the way if you yank the toy too quickly or suddenly change directions when pulling it back toward yourself in order to make them drop it. Instead, try taking your time and gently guiding them where they need to go in order to make them let go of their grip on the toy.

Reward your dog with a treat when you’re finished playing

You should not play tug of war with your dog if:

  • Your dog is overweight.
  • Your dog has any health issues.
  • Your dog is aggressive.
  • You have a frightened or untrained puppy who isn’t yet able to follow basic commands such as, “Let go!”


This concludes our guide on how to play tug of war with your dog. We hope you and your four-legged friend enjoy this fun game as a bonding activity, and that it provides many a great way for you both to get some exercise in!