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Categories: Playing Tug With Your Dog

Q. My dog has started to shut down when I bring out the tug. What do you suggest I do?
Hi Cindy,

Let me start by saying I love your website and the changes you made to the streaming videos are excellent. I have purchased various DVDs and equipment and thanks to you I have a very obedient and happy dog.

I hope you can help me with a problem that just occurred with my 14 month old female GSD. She has good nerves and a wonderful temperment. She can go anywhere with me, experience different situations, meet other dogs and people without a single change in her behavior. She is excited and eager for just about anything. She loves to chase balls (especially the orbee balls) and she use to love to play tug... hence my problem. I took her out to play tug today and for the first time ever she completely shut down as soon as she saw the tug. She lowered her head and scurried into the heel position and wouldn't leave my side. She always had a positive experience while playing tug and I always stop playing with her wanting more. It goes so far as her not wanting to chase the orbee ball on a string but will chase regular orbee balls. I have tried various tugs with no luck. I hope you can help.

Thanks,
Brian

A. I would make sure to watch the entire tug video we produced with Michael Ellis, The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog.

It sounds like your dog is confused about what the tug is for and you may have done too much formal obedience with her.

I would also not allow her access to anything other than the tugs you want her to play with, no balls of any kind right now. This is another form of equipment bias and it is counterproductive to good training. Your dog should happily play with anything you offer, anytime, in any environment. If you give in and go back to playing ball with her when she refuses the tug, you’ve actually reinforced NOT playing with the tug.

Check out our streaming video about equipment bias, you can search our Video on Demand.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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