I sometimes hear clients say they were told by Dog Trainers, or that they read in various dog training books that they should never play Tug Of War with their dogs. Surprisingly, the belief that playing Tug Of War could increase aggression and dominance in dogs is still out there.
This is interesting, as not only the idea that a game of Tug Of War could be dangerous is wrong, it is also completely the opposite. On the contrary, it is a great way to get your dog to exercise, and also a lovely way to bond with your dog, especially during those dark nights when the rain has cut short the evening walk.
Many have written about this, including the brilliant Jean Donaldson. In her book The Culture Clash, she says: "Played with rules, Tug Of War is a tremendous predatory energy burner and a good exercise for both dog and owner." "It's good because it is intense, increases dog focus and confidence, and plugs into something very deep inside dogs. The owner becomes the source of a potent reinforcing activity, and there is a payoff in terms of lowered incidence of behaviour problems due to under stimulation". So it's a "Win Win" although I think it's a great idea to also train your dog with cues such as "leave" or "drop" before and during each game, so if your dog ever picks up one of your slippers instead of his/her toy, you'll be able to rescue it.
Finally, bear in mind your dog is not trying to dominate you; as Jean says: "the game doesn't make the dog a predator: he already is one" so including training in everyday activities, to stimulate your dog, but also to make him understand what you expect from him is always a great idea, and will make for a happy dog.
If you you would like me to show you how to play Tug Of War safely with your dog, as well as other great mind stimulating games contact me here. You can also Join the pack to receive regular news updates.