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Teaching Your Dog to Play Tug-of-War

How to Play continued...

After choosing one of the methods above, you’ll need to practice the tug-release sequence many times to make sure your dog understands how to play tug properly. Let your dog tug for only 10 to 20 seconds, and then use your cue to ask her to drop the toy. Repeat the sequence at least 10 times per session.

Delivering the right kind of rewards with very good timing will help your dog learn faster. If you’re using the second or third method above, you’ll reward your dog for releasing the toy with a new game of tug. Don’t waste time praising or patting your dog. She may love a good snuggle when the two of you are just hanging out together, but when she’s excited about tugging a toy with you, she won’t want praise or patting. If you use the first method above, your dog has two incentives to release the toy: a tasty food reward and the chance to play again. Right after you feed your dog a food reward, be sure to get the tug game going again quickly so she doesn’t get bored and lose focus.

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