So….. Do you let the dog “win” while playing tug or not?
Do you EVER let the dog “TAKE” the toy?
That, is the question.
This is such a readily answered question in dog training, that even folks without dogs have an answer for it!
So….. Where do I stand on the issue?
There is no “winning” the toy!
I think the question itself shows a misunderstanding of tug!
It’s like playing Frisbee with your friend. If you suddenly “let them have it”, it’s not a reward. It’s a bummer. They don’t want the Frisbee. They want to play with YOU WITH the Frisbee!!!!
And THAT is the fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of tug. It is not truly competitive. It’s “cooperatively” competitive. And there is a huge difference.
For people that aren’t into contact/combat sports, this may be a difficult analogy…… But……
If you’re into wrestling, and you’re having fun and wrestling with your favorite team mate…… It may LOOK competitive, but it’s not. It has elements of competition. You’re pinning them. They’re throwing you. But, if your practice session was over the first time you scored a point…… You’d be bummed. Not excited.
Yes. In tug you will make them miss sometimes. And yes, you ARE trying to rip it away from them. And they ARE trying hard to keep possession of it.
But this is where perspective is important!
If you let them have it…… They should be bummed. They should punch it back into you! If you throw it they should grab it and bring it back. Not cause they know how to “fetch”. But, out of sheer frustration! They want “The Game”!!!! Not the toy!
It’s like looking at a kid playing a video game. From the outside it may look like they are playing with the joystick. But they aren’t. They are playing the video game WITH the joystick.
The tug toy is the joystick.
YOU ARE THE GAME!!!!!!!!
“Turning off” the game isn’t “winning”!
Look at your game as developing engagement with you, NOT the toy.
Test your theory by letting go! If they get frustrated and punch it back to you….. You’re engagement is solid! Your game is strong.
If they think they “won” and leave with their “prize”…..
Your game needs some work!
The only winning in tug is the handler grabbing that damn thing!
Now go make your dogs day and teach them to play tug with YOU!