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How to teach tugging?


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Or rather, how can I teach Niki to tug on a tug rope, or something besides my old tennis shoe?

 

To explain a bit more, she is very particular about what she will play with. Her list of acceptable toys has just two things on it: tennis balls (usually the squeaky dog ones), and a pair of my old tennis shoes. (She's only interested in this pair, not any of my others.) The shoes are her version of a tug toy, but one of them has disintegrated, and the other is getting pretty feeble. I've bought her the usual sort of tug ropes, but she just ignores them.

 

She's the same way about balls. She'll chase a ball as long as I'm willing to throw it, but only tennis balls are acceptable. Sticks, frisbees, even rubber balls of a similar size, all of them get ignored. Suggestions?

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I have only question...are you sure you have a BC? :rolleyes: (sorry, just had to..)

I can give Ugla anything, and she plays with it ONLY if I offer of course.

Tug´o´war is her favorite except for running after her frisbie or tennisball of curse which is I think imprinted in these dogs.

But what if you get a friend with you and play with the toy you want her to play with, and get her excited and maybe than she will think of it as a toy?

I don´t know, I have never had this problem, only the opposite when my dogs were puppies...EVERYTHING was for tug ´o war..

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Here is what has worked for me...

 

I don't let the dog have access to the toy at first unless I'm interacting with them, I usually do this in our kitchen/family room area so will place the toy on the fridge where the dog knows where it is.

 

We begin w/ me playing with the toy, acting very excited and silly when the dog starts to show interest the toy goes back on the fridge, these 'play sessions' don't last long, it may only take a few seconds for the dog to want what you have, the idea is that you want to end with them wanting more. As the dog begins to show more interest I legthen out the amount of play time a little.

 

Then I begin letting the dog play w/ me and the toy, again make sure to end the sessions with the dog wanting more and put the toy away at the end, the tugging game shouldn't be about the toy, it should be about the interaction with you. If at this point the dog is still a little stand offish towards the toy I will kneel on the floor and quickly drag the toy around, again acting excited and silly, doing this seems to bring out the play drive and gets the dog into the toy.

 

Hope this helps. Best of luck

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I don't tug w/ my dogs any more, but I still remember how.

 

As the previous poster said, deny access to the toy when not actually playing. Out of reach but still in sight is nice.

 

I liked to use a single tug toy. Schutzhund supply shops can sell really great tug ties with good safety straps for you and a nice bite surface for the dog, but be aware that everything that you buy from these stores is in GSD size: your dog's mouth may not fit. http://www.fordogtrainers.com/index.asp?Pa...mp;Category=209

 

If the dog will not tug, tie the toy to a cord. Drag it on the ground and have the toy imitate a dead/dying small animal. Most dogs will pounce on a dragged item very readily. When they have pounced, you can pick up the other end and start tugging gently. Switch back and forth between dragging and tugging as needed. If the dog is really diffident, drag the toy while you walk away from it (ie, you are not facing the dog and the dog is looking at your back as you drag the toy behind you). Some dogs won't tug w/ a person thinking that it is rude or being intimidated by the face-to-face, so dragging the toy behind you can work really well.

 

Even after a dog tugs readily, dogs will react very differently to eye contact while tugging. For some, it is a no-no, while others love it. So be aware of the difference it makes.

 

"Keep away" can create frenzied, very eager tugging (and biting and barking, too, so only use it if you want those behaviors.)

 

The decision about whether or not to let the dog "win" and get the toy at the end of session can amount to the difference between Catholics and Protestants in Tudor England, but I personally have never found it to make a significant difference: a dog's relationship w/ you can is supplemented by tugging, not defined by it, so i didn't worry about it much.

 

Keep sessions short and put away the toy at the end.

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Since she likes the squeaky tennis ball, you could try putting it in an old sock and use that to work on the tugging behavior with her. Once she tugs with the ball in the sock, you could get a tug toy with a ball on the end and transition to that and then eventually (probably by about the time the ball falls off!), she may well tug the tug toy without the ball.

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I have only question...are you sure you have a BC? :rolleyes: (sorry, just had to..)

 

Fairly sure, though she was about 2 years old when I got her :-) She's actually supposed to be a BC/Australian Shepherd mix, but looks more BC than Aussie. She does the classic BC crouch, usually when she's waiting for me to shoot the tennis ball, or "stalking" me on hikes. (If we're on a steep slope, or a place where the ball might bounce into a creek, I won't shoot it, but she thinks I should, so she hangs back about a good shooting distance, and does crouch, sneak a bit closer, crouch again... until we get to where we can do the ball again.)

 

I do keep the tug rope out of her immediate reach (on a table with other stuff) when not trying to play with it. Maybe I need to be more enthusiastic about it? Though I have tried... And she does tug well with the shoe (enthusiastic but not hyper barking or biting), so it's not that she doesn't know how, it's just that she's really picky about what she does it with.

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I second all the approaches suggested above but will also add you may need some patience.

 

One of my girls has taken over 2 years of periodic training/encouraging to be tugging with us using her soft toys and a couple of soft tugs. This is despite our other dog having been a manic tugger from the very begining.

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Thanks, though patience is hard to come by. I don't have much experience with serious training, I guess because all of my previous dogs have been middle-aged or older when I got them, and so didn't need much. And Niki's so quick to pick up things that she wants to learn/sees the sense in that I don't know how to deal with her NOT getting something right away.

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