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How to play Tug of war

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

Enjoy this classic - a war of man and beast! Who will win?


Dogs will have no trouble learning this game, and with a large dog you might even get some exercise yourself!


Some benefits with this game, besides the obvious ones of entertainment and exercise:

  • Lets your dog enjoy using his natural instincts of chewing and wrestling

  • A two player game that makes it an excellent way to bond and get to know your dog better

  • It's a perfect game to teach your dog boundaries - no happier dog than an obedient dog who knows the rules of the game!

You need any kind of durable toy, rope or just a stick. I prefer a tough, rubber thingy attached to a rope, but using different toys will also give variations to the game. See recommendations below.


Don't use towels or other household items, as your dog might think of this as a green light to use all other towels like toys.


I like to start the game just by saying "Get it!" and handing the toy to the dog, and not letting go. The war has begun!


The intensity of the game will vary with the surroundings and how eager you/your dog is to play. Spinning a great dane by its teeth in a field might be fun, but I wouldn't try that in my livingroom.


Teach your dog boundaries by giving a stop-signal. My marker word is "Thanks". When I say "Thanks" my dog will release the toy to me. The first times you might have to make your dog sit first, to get into listening-mode, before it will let go. But after a few sessions they will know your command, and release the toy.


If your dog accidentaly touches you with his teeth, you stop the game temporarily. The dog needs to learn that any time teeth comes in contact with a person, the fun is over.


Letting the dog win some times, will build confidence in your dog. Some say this will make your dog more aggressive, but with a well trained dog this will never be the case.


Puppies can also engage in this game. You need to handle them a bit gentler than older dogs. Let them set the pace and power needed to have fun.


Remember that tug toys live longer if you take it away from the dog after playing, so they won't keep chewing unattended.


3 Recommended toys to try for this game


The KONG Aqua is a fetch toy designed to float so that you can use it in water. But this also happens to be a favorite for tug-of-war.


It's durable, colored in a very visible bright orange, and has a rope attached.


Perfect for tug-of-war, AND for fetch. Why not even combine the two?




Buy on Amazon: KONG - Aqua - Floating Fetch Toy for Water Play - for Large Dogs



Mammoth Flossy Chews are sturdy, high quality ropes that will last for a long time, even with a large dog! The fibers in the toys will also take care of your dogs teeth as you play.


Buy on Amazon: Mammoth Flossy Chews Color Rope Tug – Premium Cotton-Poly Tug Toy for Dogs – Interactive Dog Rope Toy – Tug Dog Chew Toy


The Bull Fit Tug Toy has a great feel to it, and dogs LOVE it!


Built to handle rough play and with a bungee handle to give some relief to your arms when playing tug-of-war





Buy on Amazon: Dog Bite Tug Toy - Durable, Interactive Toys for Medium to Large Dogs - Perfect for Tug of War, Fetch & Puppy Training - Safe Fire Hose Dog Tug with Strong Handle - Tough Floating Pull Toy (Large)


Also check out our article on choosing the right toys for your dog!

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