The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog is the second training video in the Leerburg’s series of dog training with Michael Ellis. This video follows Michael’s the Power of Training Your Dog with Food.
Michael’s opens this video with a lecture on why using toy rewards is a powerful tool in a dog training program. He explains in detail why new trainers should learn “Marker Training” using food rewards before they consider using toy rewards.
Before a tug can be used as an obedience reward the dog must first learn the “Rules of Play.” Those rules are:
- The dog must play tug with enthusiasm,
- The dog must release the toy when told to out.
- The dog must bring the tug back after you release it.
During “Rules of Play” training, the dog learns that just because he “OUTS the toy and brings it back” does not mean the game is over. In fact, during the first stages of training the handler shows the dog the instant he releases the toy the game goes on again.
Once the dog understands this concept, the conflict of over “outing the toy” goes away.
This training teaches the dog that fun with toys comes by playing tug with his handler and not in possessing the toy and playing keep away from the handler.
During this training the dog learns that toys are the handler’s toys and the handler determines when and how the dog is allowed to play with toys.
In this video Michael teaches the mechanics of 10 different tug presentations. He demonstrates how these various presentations are used during engagement games with dogs.
Most dogs included in this video are untrained dogs with handlers new to this system of training. It is important to have someone like Michael demonstrate the correct-form on how to play and then watch new trainers who have never done this work before try it.
Not all dogs like to play tug. Some dogs have never had their play drive developed and some had it squelched by an unknowing handler. Michael addresses solutions to both of these issues. He explains how different sizes, textures and types of tugs effect drive levels in dogs. He explains how to increase prey drive through proper tug selection and presentation.
Michael also explains how to avoid equipment bias in our dogs. Equipment bias occurs when a dog will play with one toy and not others. Understanding size and types of toys will help eliminate equipment boas. Our long term goal is for our dogs to play with any toy we offer.
If you been a student of our video The Power of Training Dogs with Food then you understand what engagement is. In this video Michael will teach you how to get and keep your dog engaged by using tug toys.
During the drive building for this work, you will learn how to teach a second handler to hold your dog on leash (we call this POSTING). You will also learn how to build drive and intensity by intentionally making your dog miss a bite on the tug.
There are right and wrong ways to allow your dog to grip a tug, and there are right and wrong mechanics of how to play with your dog once it’s gripped a tug. It behooves to learn how to safely train your dog in the art of playing tug.
There is a large segment in the video where Michael Ellis teaches 10 different presentation on how to catch a dog on a tug. Those are:
- The frontal catch
- The catch to the right
- The catch to the left
- The stationary rear catch to the right
- The stationary rear catch to the left
- The rear spin catches to the right
- The rear spin catches to the left
- The presentation from the Place-Position (when do starts between your legs)
- The presentation with the right hand from the heel position
- The presentation for the left hand from the heel position.
After the handler and dog understand these presentations they need to learn how to introduce distractions during tug play training. Michael is an expert on proofing his training by layering in distractions.
In the video Michael demonstrates that dogs often learn more and learn quicker during their learning phase when worked at lower levels of drive. Once the dog understands an exercise the drive level can be increased. When drive levels increase, both the intensity and speed of the dog performing that exercise will increase.
One of the most important aspects of using tug play as a reward in a training system is to have a dog that consistently and willingly OUTS the tug on command. Training the OUT is a big segment of this video. You will see a number of dogs at different training levels being worked on the OUT. One of the dogs has a serious OUT problem. During this training the dog also learns to bring the tug back to the handler after the handler releases the tug during the play.
It’s not uncommon during tug training to have a situation where the handler is getting his hands bit by his dog. Michael has a segment in this video teaching how to eliminate this.
Michael also talks about playing tug with puppies. When it comes to tug work with puppies it is vitally important to know when to do it, how to do it and when to stop doing it. He explains what not to do when puppies are teething.