Monday, July 18, 2011

What Is A Tug Toy???

Nettle's Favorite Tug Toy

 Have you ever thought about what a tug toy, 
(or training toy) should be?

Does it have to be purchased from a store?
Does it need to be fuzzy and soft?
Does it need to have a handle?
Does it need to be a certain length?
Does it need to come in bright colors?
(Preferably Orange????)

The answer to all of the above it NO!

Nettle didn't 'come with' a tug.  
In fact, she almost 'failed' that segment of her 'puppy test'. 
(I'll say it again, I don't put much weight on puppy tests)

Tugging for her was/is a challenge.  
"I don't feel like it"
"I'd rather have......"
These are just a few of the responses I got.
I had two choices.
I could give up and just use food, 
or I could get creative and put some 'work' in to building a tug.

I strongly feel that tugging is very important in training.
So, the obvious choice was to put some effort into building it.

My first task was to decide what she found reinforcing.
She likes her stuffed toys, but those are for a "party of one".
She likes toilet paper, but, not very tuggable. 
She loves paper, again, not very strong.
Plastic bags are a blast!  
She loves to grab the poop bag at the end of the leash.
(Note to self - Check for holes before using!)

My plan at first was to weave a plastic grocery sack into
a long tug toy.  This would give her something to tug on she likes, 
and give the plastic bag a little more durability. 

In the meantime, I happened to use the last paper towel.
So, guess what I did with the empty roll?
I 'beat' the puppy, and she liked it!
A tug toy is born!

(Yes, I had to label it so Bill wouldn't throw it away!)
Otherwise I'd have to unroll a whole roll of
paper towels to get another one.

We kept the tug sessions very short.
We stopped when she was tugging vigorously.
We stopped when I said so, not her, and 
I made a big deal of putting it away.

She'll now tug with it before she eats, 
with her fresh chicken meat sitting right in front of her, 
and she'll tug again after she's done eating. 

Don't think the didn't take work, but it DID work!

So, if you have a puppy, or dog that won't tug,
maybe you haven't looked hard enough for what interests them?

This week we'll work on avoiding 'toy biasis'.
Then we'll work on 'tug any time, any place'.
Both of these are so important.

In the meantime, save yourself a little money and find a
tug toy your DOG likes....not necessarily what YOU like.

(Think how much fun a Christmas 
Wrapping Paper tube would be!!)


  1. My puppy loves paper towel rolls too! And toilet paper - she would rather have a tiny piece of TP than a treat.
    I have 3 huge baskets of toys and her favorite tug is an old mitten. :)

  2. Is she related to Scamp? He's a little nuts about paper towel rolls, too.

  3. So funny! You'd think the cardboard would rip.