Tug Games

There are three key tug games that I like to play after I have developed a strong tug drive with my dog. Susan Garrett taught Tooie and I the Race Ya and Restraint Recall many years ago and they have proven to be two of my three favorites.

Tug Exchange


My main reasons for using tug exchange are:

  • to improve tug drive
  • to teach my dog that whatever toy I have is more fun to play with than anything else
  • to teach the tug and drop command
  • I simply put five tugs on the ground, grab one and initiate the tug game. I release the tug, give the 'drop' command, grab one of the other tugs, and give the 'tug' directive. At first patience is required because quite often the dog will continue to play with the tug it has. With a little persuasion, (running away, acting silly etc.) you should be able to entice the dog to come after the tug you have since its toy will usually get boring fast. It normally isn't long before your dog is grabbing the tug before you've got it off the ground therefore long tugs are advisable.


    Race You

    I race my dog to

    While restraining my dog I throw a tug toy out in front of us. I then give my Ready...Set...Go. On 'Go' I release the dog, run to the tug, and grab it. If I beat my dog to the tug I tease the dog with a little 'Keep Away' to peak its desire for the toy, then I play again. If the dog beats me to the tug, we play a vigorous game of tug as a reward for a minute then start over.

    I always use a Ready...Set...Go in an even count to get the dog used to my release on Go. I don't use Ready...Go since when we line up to race everyone starts going 'ready...ready...ready'. If my dog is used to being released after 'Ready' he will start lunging around and I won't get a clean release. By using 'Ready...Set' my dog knows the next thing will be 'Go' and a release. By being consistent with this I am now able to hold my dogs at the line using a light restraint with only two fingers. On 'Ready' they get ready. On 'Set' they hunker down and on 'Go' I get a clean release.

    My dog learns to run away from me as fast as he can in order to beat me to the tug.

    Restraint Recall

    I use restraint recalls to

    Another person holds my dog and gives the 'Ready...Set...Go. On 'Ready' I start to run. On 'Set' I start calling the dog. On 'Go' the other person releases the dog and I run with the tug exposed and entice the dog to grab it. I play tug with the dog as a reward for running to me.