Things to Look for in a Tug of War Toy for Dogs
There are a few things you should look for when choosing the right dog tug toy:
Choosing a toy with high-quality materials reduces the chances of the toy fraying or breaking during playtime, allowing you to focus on having fun with your dog. Good quality materials will also provide comfort for both you and your dog.
Easy to Grip Shape For Your Dog
Your chosen toy should have something your dog can bite down onto easily. This might be a knot on a rope or a rubber handle, for example.
Something For You to Grip
You need to be comfortable during play too, so aim to find a toy that has something for you to grip easily. A good tug of war toy will have easy-grip options on both ends of the toy.
Choose a Tug Toy That’s Suitable For Your Dog’s Size
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their toys! It’s crucial you find a toy that is right for your dog’s size to make sure they are comfortable and safe while playing.
Easy to Clean
Dogs can get a new toy dirty within moments, so it’s a good idea to pick a toy that’s easy to clean for your own benefit. A toy that can be popped in the washing machine or wiped down is useful.
Tug Toy Safety Advice
Even the toughest dog toys are not indestructible, which means it’s important to supervise your pet when they’re playing. If any parts break off the toy, it can be a choking hazard or even cause an internal blockage, so if a toy breaks, you should take it away from your dog.
Ensure you have plenty of room before playing tug. Depending on your dog’s size and strength, you should adjust how hard you pull during the game, so you don’t damage their teeth. You should also ensure the material of the toy isn’t too hard or sharp. Monitor your dog’s behaviors throughout the game to ensure they’re behaving appropriately.
What Are The Benefits of Playing Tug of War With Your Dog?
There are so many benefits of playing tug of war with your dog. These include:
- Physical exercise: it’s a great way to help your dog burn some energy!
- Mental stimulation: the best type of play engages your dog’s brain as well as their body.
- Building confidence: playing interactive games increases a dog’s confidence, especially as they’re growing up and learning about the world around them. Letting your dog win can help with this.
- Strengthening your bond: dogs are social creatures and value play with their owners. Playing tug of war with your dog can strengthen the bond between you.
- Positive reinforcement: you can use tug games to reinforce positive behavior by using the game as a reward and using playtime to practice basic commands like ‘leave it’.
- Redirecting chewing: when dogs are bored, their chewing habits can become destructive. Providing them with a toy they can chew can redirect that urge.
- Good exercise for you: it’s not just your dog who gets exercise during tug of war; you do too.
- It’s fun: playing tug of war is fun for both you and your dog.
Why Dogs Love Playing Tug of War
You might be wondering why your dog loves playing tug of war with you so much. Well to a dog, their owner is their world, so your dog will love spending any quality time with you. Most dogs also love playtime as an outlet for their energy.
Research suggests that when two dogs play tug, they are building trust between them, so perhaps our dogs play tug with us to build trust. The tugging motion mimics the behaviors your dog’s ancestors would have used during hunting. Other evidence suggests that dogs have evolved to play tug with their owners to replace the biting behaviors they would use when playing with other dogs.
Dog Tug Toy FAQ
How should your dog play with a tug toy?
Your dog should have a firm grip on a good quality tug toy, ideally on the other end or middle of the toy, so their teeth are far away from your hands. They should exhibit playful behaviors throughout. Your dog should drop the toy anytime you ask them to during the game.
Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior throughout the game. If your dog becomes over-stimulated, too intense, or their teeth make contact with your hand, take a break from the game and play again later. It’s important to note here that there is plenty of evidence to show that playing tug of war with your dog doesn’t lead to aggressive tendencies and is perfectly safe as long as you set boundaries.
Playing tug of war with your dog can be a great bonding experience, providing hours of entertainment for you both! There are so many benefits, so if you haven’t tried it yet, I would recommend giving it a go. Choosing the best dog tug toy for your dog and setting clear boundaries keeps the game safe and fun for all.
Anna Burke, (2018), “Dog Myths Debunked: Can Playing Tug-Of-War Lead to Aggression in Dogs?” American Kennel Club.
Patty Oelze, (2018), “Why Dogs Like Tug Of War”. Wag.