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Playing Tug-Of-War With Your Dog

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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Before playing a game of tug-of-war with your dog, there a few things you should know.

This particular activity seems to incite an extremely high level of intensity for most dogs. It’s not appropriate for puppies or dogs with orthopedic problems. And it should never be introduced to dogs with an exceptionally high play drive, resource possessive behavior or overall aggressive tendencies. At the point of intensity in a tug-of-war game, the dog may not be able to differentiate between play and aggressive behavior. It would be unfair to set the dog up for failure.

This activity can also present physical problems for your dog as well. The physical stress and pull from the dog during the activity can potentially cause damage to teeth and young bones.

Idealistically, when playing tug-of-war between you and your dog, you must ALWAYS win. That may not always be realistic in terms of the dog’s weight, agility, strength, etc. and it would be extremely wrong and inhumane to use aggressive force. Again, it’s best to always set the dog up to succeed. And, as with any game, you must set the rules and choose when to end the game.

Overall, it may be best not to engage in this type of play with your dog. There are plenty of other games to play that are safer for your dog. Playing catch or fetch with your dog is a much better alternative. It teaches your dog to focus on you and your commands while learning to retrieve.

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