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To Tug oe Not to Tug, that is the Question?

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

  
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Huck

GO!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:03am PST 
I was wondering how many of you tug with your dogs? I know many top trainers feel tugging is really important when playing with your dog in agility and even flyball but how many people actually tug with their dog? I have mixed feelings on it. One I see the benefit of tugging but at the same time if your dog prefers another way of playing with you, why not use that as well? Huck loves to tug but much prefers his ball or floppy. The only time he gets either is at agility and he knows its a game with me. Wyatt, the tug sends him up and over the top and getting him back down to a managable levels of terrier brain sometimes is rather hard. Callie tugs as long as there is a cookie involved afterward. What are your thoughts?
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Member Since
01/04/2009
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:15am PST 
My dog gets daily tug sessions. It's actually how I taught her how to play fetch (along with the "drop it" command), and she's now also a fetch-a-holic.

I never realized that agility trainers recommended that. None of ours ever have, but she and I do participate in agility.
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Mulder

Spooky Mulder
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:30am PST 
I say use whatever works.

I use a tug most of the time with Mulder. I'd rather use a ball, but there are several reactive dogs in my class and letting him cut loose after something on the field isn't really anything I want to toy with confused

Certain dogs respond better to certain things- use what works best.
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Trigger

*Blackdog*
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:44am PST 
We don't with the Labs as it encourages a hard mouth. When they deliver a bird to hand the last thing I want them to do is chomp down and yank back when I take hold.

The littles however enjoy it thoroughly and it's a game we play often.
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Maci & Harley & Jigar

Golden butts
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 8:56am PST 
I will have to watch for the 'hard' mouth. Did not think about that.

I use tug as it is Maci's favorite game and the only one she will do with me in highly distracting places. With a dumbbell she is too soft mouth (okay, she actually does not like it yet) so I will start tugging with the dumbbell to get a stronger hold.

But cuddling is my boy's favorite game ---so I would agree, use what works for your dog.
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Trigger

*Blackdog*
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 9:14am PST 
I'd work Maci on marking a "hold" command and reinforcing that rather than encouraging her to go hard on dumbbells (and anything else you'd want her to retrieve from here on out), but that's just me smile
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Huck

GO!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 9:42am PST 
I agree with you use what works for your dog. I am not sure about these trainers that say your dog MUST tug. WHY? Why must my dog tug to be playing with me? If I use a ball or a floppy and it is a game between the 2 of us as a reward, what is wrong with that? Some trainers say fetch is a self rewarding game? How so? I throw it the dog catches it and the dog comes back to me for another toss. How is that self rewarding? He finds it much more fun then a game of tug. Now he will grab his leash and tug when he knows we are going to the ring to run our course and will tug on his leash all the way to the ring but when he comes out he looks for his ball or floppy as the ultimate reward to him.
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Trigger

*Blackdog*
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 10:00am PST 
I didn't use food treats for most of Hoyt and Triggers training, retrieving is much more rewarding. Not that they'd ever turn down a hot dog, but pull out a tennis ball as reward and they'll get even more amped up over that than a tasty vittle.


Now THROW a hot dog for them to chase like a tennis ball after a job well done and their heads are sure to explode lol


eta - any trainer that doesn't understand why or how a retrieve is self rewarding and *can* be much more motivating than food for some dogs obviously isn't skilled enough in their craft to be labeled an actual "trainer." Same can also be said about tugging through.

Edited by author Tue Apr 10, '12 10:02am PST

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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 11:46am PST 
I had the exact opposite problem with an OB instructor. I had to practically move a mountain to be allowed to reward my dog with tug/toy because she was not at all responding to food as a reward. It was very frustrating for me, but I did respect the instructor and forged ahead. It paid off because we both learned a lot by the end, and so did my dog. I understood their point: that it might be distracting for other dogs. I had to figure out how to deliver the reward without disturbing others, or mark and deliver the reward as soon as I could.

I agree, use whatever works best for your individual dog in that specific circumstance, anytime that you can. If your dog doesn't respond well to tug, try suggesting to the instructor a reward that works for your dog, but is still do-able in that setting. In my case, once I got the instructor to listen and was able to demonstrate my idea, we were fine after that. If they're unwilling to listen to you or don't want to work with you...how much of your business do you want to give them longterm, anyway?

I know that tug doesn't always create a hard mouth, at least it doesn't for the hunting Std. poodles, could be a breed thing, I'm not sure. They love to tug in agility, but classically have very soft mouths, and they'll retrieve well all day long.
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Maggie

Wishing For Snow
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 10, '12 4:21pm PST 
Did you read Susan Garrett's blog post on this today? If you don't subscribe to her newsletter you should sign up - always lots of good stuff there.

http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2012/04/improve-your-dog -training-by-playing-like-a-dog/
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