Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 8)
Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 8)
Before teaching your puppy how to play tug-of-war, review these rules:
- Your puppy should already know and respond to your “Take it” and “Drop it” cues. Don’t start playing tug-of-war until your puppy quickly takes and drops items when you give the cues. If she enjoys playing “keep-away” you need to practice those exercises first.
- Only one toy must be designated for tug-of-war. You don’t want your puppy to learn to tug all her toys or other objects. By sticking to one toy only, it will be easier for her to understand that this is the only toy that she can play the game with.
- Your puppy cannot play tug unless you give the “Tug” cue. If she grabs the tug toy in your hand before invited, the game’s over.
- All cues to “Drop it” during the game must be followed. If your puppy does not drop the tug toy on cue, the game’s over.
- Take frequent obedience breaks. Follow a “Drop it” with some manners exercises, such as sit, down, or stay before starting the tug game again.
- If your puppy makes contact with her teeth on your skin for any reason, even if by accident, the game’s over.
By following the rules, you will be teaching your puppy how to play tug-of-war safely. This is a very important lesson to teach her now. If you have a puppy that will grow up to be a large dog, you especially don’t want to wait until she has her adult teeth and strength to learn how to use them safely around people. Now that you know the rules, here’s how to teach tug-of-war:
- Offer your puppy the designated tug toy. Tell her “Take it.”
- When she takes the toy, give the cue “Tug” and start pulling on the toy. Encourage her to tug back. If she does, mark “Yes!” and praise her.
- Play tug for a while, then give her the “Drop it” cue. When she drops it, mark “Yes!” and praise her.
- Repeat Steps 1 and 2. Occasionally, when she drops the toy, give her cues for some of her family manners, such as sit or down. When she performs the behavior, mark “Yes!” and then give her the cues to “Take it” and “Tug” again as her reward.
Troubleshooting: What if your puppy breaks one of the rules? If she grabs the toy and starts tugging before you gave her the proper cues, immediately say “Too bad!” and end the game. Ignore your puppy for a few minutes—do not lecture her, talk to her, or even make eye contact with her. Leave the room if you want, but don’t do so if she can’t be left unsupervised without getting into trouble or having a housetraining accident. After a few minutes, let her try again. If she again grabs at the toy and tugs before you invite her, immediately say “Too bad!” and end the game. Ignore her for another couple minutes, then try again later or the next day.
If she should make contact with her teeth on your skin, even by accident, immediately yelp “Ouch!” and end the game. Even if it didn’t hurt, act like it did. This teaches your puppy to be very careful with her teeth. Completely ignore her for a few minutes. Don’t lecture her about how she nipped you—the more you talk to your puppy, the more attention you’re paying her. After ignoring her for a few minutes, let her try again. If she again makes contact with her teeth on your skin, immediately yelp “Ouch!” and end the game. Try again later or the next day.
If you are consistent about making your puppy follow the rules, she’ll learn them.
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