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Playing with Your Dog Q&A

Playing with Your Dog Q&A

ASK CINDY YOUR DOG TRAINING QUESTION
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Check out our Leerburg Questions and Answers
with nearly 3000 previously answered questions.

  1. Is an automatic ball launcher that uses tennis balls worth the risk? Do you know of any other launchers?

  2. I have a very high energy Golden Retriever mix, how can I teach my dog that running with me is fun?

  3. What are some good toys for drive building with my dog? Is a drive building toy different than a training toy?

  4. What tug toys would you suggest for following Michael Ellis's training system?

  5. Which tug toy would you recommend using with the new Tug DVD?

  6. I can’t get my puppy to play tug with any type of toy, but he’ll tug on our pants. Do you have any suggestions?

  7. What is the deal with the food tug, does the dog open the tug during the game to access the food?

  8. My 7 month old dog will run away with the tug when we are playing, what do you suggest?

  9. My young dog is yelping and whining when we play tug. Is this good or bad?

  10. I have a 4 year old dog that I have trained in agility and she won’t listen to me on course. I also have a younger dog that I am doing Schutzhund with and I’d like to do agility with her also. Our trainer feels that if we are doing Schutzhund with her, we shouldn't do any other kind of training because she will get confused. What do you think?

  11. My 8 month old dog won’t release the Frisbee when I play with him, what’s the best way to teach a dog to return and toy and release it?

  12. I’m struggling to bring prey drive out in my 15 week old GSD puppy. He has no interest in a ball or a rag, do you have any suggestions?

  13. When I play tug with my dog he gets really excited and sometimes gets my hand. Can you give me any advice?

  14. I haven't used a toy as a reward for training, only thrown toys for the dog to bring back. How do I break him from just wanting to chase toys & get him to interact with the toy as a reward with me?

  15. We need some ideas for "playing" with our dog. He does not fetch, retrieve, or anything of that nature. He does have a tug toy but that doesn't interest him for long. Any suggestions or resources you could direct me to to increase our play time would be great!

  16. My dog only has food drive, can I still benefit from Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis? Also, if I’m not interested in competition can I still do this type of training?

  17. My puppy is in training for agility and only likes to tug on my sweatshirt arms while I'm wearing it. Should I get a puppy sleeve and let her continue to tug on my arm?

  18. If you get to the point where you say "yes" and they aren't that interested, does that mean you "outplayed them" with it? Meaning, I should have stopped the game much sooner?

  19. Can you suggest a bite tug for my GSD to use as a reward in obedience training?

  20. I have seen videos of your dogs in the pool and I'm curious if they were naturally fans of the water or if you had to get them used to it and what can I do to get my dog in the pool and having fun and exercising?


1. Question:

Good afternoon!

I found an automatic ball launcher for my crazy-ball-drive 14 month old male GSD, but am hesitant to purchase it before I receive expert feedback regarding the safety of using regular size tennis balls. I order the Orbee balls from you guys, preferring the ones on a string because it's easier to throw, and I can use the smaller ball without worrying about him swallowing when he catches them.

I have read enough horror stories about tennis balls to be wary of using them (and heed your warning about the glue and their enamel issue), but thought this ball launcher would be HEAVEN for my young male. He already naturally returns balls to a container, i.e., a bucket, water bowl, on top an end table, into a basket, or anything he can find to deposit it into. I emailed a vendor asking if larger or alternate balls can be used, but the feedback I got was "only regular sized tennis balls."

Is it worth it? I don't want to take any chances to endanger him. If not, do you know of any other launchers??

Karey

Answer:

I don’t have any advice for you on this product and the safety of using the regular size tennis balls with your particular dog.  I don’t use regular tennis balls for my own dogs and haven’t for many years, mostly because they are too easy to tear up and because of the abrasion to the teeth.

I would never use one of these ball launching devices for my dog for the simple reason that I want my dog to play with me and MY toys.  I don’t want him getting reinforcement from playing with a machine.  It goes against the way I raise, train and live with my dogs. If my dogs are playing a game with a toy, it involves me or they don’t play. 

It may be fun for your dog, but it’s not conducive to our philosophy.  Why does he need you if he has his bucket of balls and a machine to throw them?  This is also a great way to create an obsessive dog that becomes neurotic over retrieving. Highly prey and retrieve driven dogs live on the edge of being OCD anyway, and this kind of play actually encourages it.

I use a ChuckIt! to play fetch with my dogs.

Just my opinion.

Cindy


2. Question:

Dear Cindy,

My 18 month old GSD/golden retriever mix has an extremely high energy level. The way we (try to) tire her out now is by playing lots of fetch with her ball, which she absolutely loves. I would also like to start taking her on runs and eventually on bike rides. My question is whether you can 'teach' a dog that running is fun? Walking her is fine, the issue is that when I run with her now, she lags behind and really doesn't want to pick up pace. I'm trying to encourage her, giving her lots of praise and sometimes treats when she is running next to me, but that only works for 20 seconds or so and then she falls behind again. I've also tried popping the leash, which works well, but I feel like I have to do it too much, which, I can imagine, is not making running a fun exercise for her. As soon as I'm turning around to go back home, she's full of energy and can't wait to get back. Back at home, she immediately heads for the place where her ball is kept, giving me the impression that the run is physically not too much for her (we've only been on slow 1.5-2 mile runs anyway), but that she would just rather play with her ball. Is there a way to encourage her running along with me, or do you think I'm asking too much of her?

Thank you very much,
Silvie

Answer:

The first thing I would do before taking any dog on a run is make sure she doesn't have any physical issues (like hip dysplasia) that would make running uncomfortable. If she checks out ok physically, why not try taking her ball along? Take her for a short run and then stop somewhere and play along the way. She'll start figuring out that going with you means the fun goes with you too.

She obviously would prefer playing ball to doing anything else, so use that to your advantage.

I hope this helps.

Cindy

Thanks:

Thanks very much for your prompt response and advice! I was actually already thinking along those lines, I guess it really is all about common sense.

Thanks very much for all you do for us, partly because of the information on your website, dvds and newsletter, our dog is such a sweet, happy and well-behaved dog. Keep up the good work!

Silvie


3. Question:

Cindy,

What are your best drive building toys and are they different than your training toys. I don't like those tugs with a loop on one end because my dog tends to get to close to my hand. I like something that gives more space and distinction from my hand, like a ball on a rope. But this isn't a good drive building toy is it? What do you recommend ?

Thanks a lot,
Roz
Memphis

Answer:

I use many different toys for my dog, and there is no difference to me or my dog as to what they are. A training toy and a drive building toy are one and the same.

I like to mix it up, so my dog will play with me anywhere, with whatever item I happen to have. My dog should play with me and a plastic cup or pine cone if that's what I happen to have. Obviously, I'd rather use toys but my point is that if you get your dog used to playing with many different items it will become less about the toy and more about the interaction with you.

Also, it's a matter of training and how you present the tug as to how your dog targets it. This is going to be covered in detail in the newest Michael Ellis video. If the dog is getting too close to your hand, then you may be presenting the toy incorrectly. This will be released in the next several weeks, The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog.

Some of the toys I use regularly are the following: but my dog may be more engaged with me than your dog is with you so your experiences may vary from mine.

Jute Rolls
Fire hose Tug
Flat Leather Tug
Mini Tug
Wing-a-Ball

I hope this helps.
Cindy


4. Question:

Hi Ed:

Dean Campbell here - long time since I talked to you. I bought Kato vom Leerburg from you years ago was a great dog. Thanks.

Anyway, my wife has a 13 month old working line GSD male. She is using Michael Ellis approach to dog training, got the 1st DVD from you, will get the second when released.

She want to get some tug toys to use with that training, do know what tugs Michael or you would suggest for his style of training.

She is planning to attend a two week training with him first part of next year and want to have the right gear for the classes.

Thanks for you time and for putting out DVDs of Michael Ellis into production.

Dean

Answer:

Choosing a tug for your dog is dependant more on your dog and the strength of grip, than anything.

I'll throw out a few favorites of mine, I think it's important to have the dog biting a variety of surfaces so they don't start favoring one specific toy.

Jute rolls
Mini tugs
Fire hose tug

I also really like the bite pillows and wedges for playing with my dog. They aren't really great for an obedience reward (too big) but I find that I can practice some of my footwork and tug skills with these first and then go
to the smaller tug I use for obedience.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


5. Question:

Cindy,

I'm about to order Michael's newest DVD. I have an 18 month old Golden. Which tug toy would you recommend. I'd like to order both simultaneously and save with the free shipping!

Answer:

I actually recommend a variety of tugs, for a number of reasons.  One is that I don’t want my dog to be fixated on only one biting surface.  I want my dog to tug equally well on jute, leather and linen.  The other reason is that without meeting your dog and seeing his biting style, I can’t know which type of tug is going to be easiest for him to bite and hold on to while he’s learning to play with you.

http://leerburg.com/minitug.htm  here is a link that has some of my favorites.  The synthetic is usually easiest for beginning dogs to bite.

I hope this helps.


6. Question:

Hello Cindy,

I was wondering if I could get some help and advice. I have a German shepherd puppy who is a few months old. Still a baby of course but we have started marker/clicker training as  I do with all my dogs. The shepherds I have had in the past all matured slowly but they at least showed some form of prey drive as babies.

This puppy comes from good working lines and is high energy. However, I cannot get him to chase ANYTHING. We have put various tugs on a string, including buffalo hide which my border collies and other shepherds love. We have tried orbee balls, tennis balls, rags, etc. Anything and everything. He will not chase the toys at all and instead tries to climb all over us or check out completely. He has no problem grabbing and tugging with our pant legs and we have tried to keep that drive when he does grab them and direct it onto a rag near our leg. It has not worked.  I have a feeling he was not interacted with very much from the breeder and that all he was allowed to do was tug on their pants when they went in and out of the barn. He is not a nervous puppy really, will chase us, jump up on us, and works well for free shaping. I just have never had a puppy who would not at least chase a toy, even if they do not pick it up.

I am about to move on to food toys but wanted to do that as a last resort. We are keeping sessions very short and when he checks out completely and will not check back in, we calmly put him back in the crate and get out another dog to play with in front of him.

I have no problem that he has a short attention span, or that he is not tugging like a fiend at 3 months old. But I needs some help on how I can get him to at least chase the toy...

Thank you so much for your time.
--Christina

Answer:

Have you tried using an old pair of jeans as a tug?  I recently saw a puppy that was like yours, wouldn’t chase a rag or toy but would tug on peoples’ jeans. I suggested the owner use an old pair of jeans, cut a strip off the leg and use that as a tug and it worked well. The pup eventually transferred over to other toys. 

You may also want to make sure you aren’t moving your legs when you try to get the pup to chase a rag or toys. Put the rag/jeans/toy on the end of a horse buggy whip and keep your legs completely still. Maybe even block your legs completely (stand in a box, behind a barrier or fence).

At 3 months old I wouldn’t be too concerned. The fact that he bites and tugs on your pants means he DOES have prey drive, he just needs to learn what to channel it into. *Remember that puppies start teething around 4 months, so if you get him tugging take a break from it during the teething period. You can still play chase games with things; just don’t pull on his mouth.

I’d also recommend these 2 videos.

The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog


7. Question:

Cindy,

What is the deal with the tug with food inside? Does the smell of the food make the tug more appealing? Is the dog supposed to open the tug during the game to get the food?

I assume the food can not pass through the leather like a permeable membrane/osmosis.

Thank you for the help,
Mark

Answer:

These tugs are used to entice dogs who have high food drive, but little to no drive to tug.  You stuff it with something the dog especially loves and then if the dog puts his mouth on it at all, you mark and reward the dog by opening the Velcro and giving him some of the food from inside. Basically, you teach the dog to tug to get a food reward.

I would probably not ever do this with a dog I wanted to do biting sports or real protection work with but I’ve seen it used with pet dogs and agility dogs with success.


8. Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have a 7 month old German shepherd from working lines. He was playing tug and with balls, but the last two weeks he is not keen to play with any toys with me. He will hold the tug in his mouth for a second and take it off.

Please can you advice.

Kind Regards,
Hemant

Answer:

If your dog won’t stay with you or bring the tug back then he’s not ready to be off leash while tugging.

I’d highly recommend the 2 new releases we have with Michael Ellis

The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

I think if you follow the work in these 2 videos, you will find that you may have been skipping a few foundational steps.

I hope this helps. Cindy


9. Question:

When I play tug with my 10 month old German Shepherd, she is starting to yelp and whine while holding on to the bite toy. She is pulling stronger than she ever has. Her prey drive is at its highest point also. So I do not know if she is whining because she wants the toy badly or maybe she is in pain. Is this common? Is it a good or bad thing?

Sincerely,
Sven

Answer:

Yelping and whining while playing tug is usually a symptom of neck or mouth discomfort. I'd get her checked out by a vet and chiropractor before continuing with the play.

If she checks out ok, it may be that she's feeling a bit of conflict while you are playing with her. Make sure you aren't giving her a lot of direct eye contact while she's playing and try not to lean over her in a strong way and see if the vocalization stops. Ideally, you don't want the dog making a lot of noise while she's gripping and tugging.

Cindy


10. Question:

Hi Cindy,

We have a 4 year old German Shepard. We took obedience classes with her when she was young and did agility with her as she grew up. We have a bit of an attention problem in that when she get excited about an activity she feels she no longer need my guidance. I am trying to be polite but actually she is not. She blows me off. I tell her she is being rude and that is not acceptable. If we are doing agility lets say we will start off okay, but she get excited and runs her own course. She runs  every piece of equipment and does not come back to me until she is finished her play time. I have been told to take her off the course as she can not use the equipment if she does not listen. I am them to take her back to doing a piece of equipment and getting a reward then another and then getting a reward. Brake it down so that she learns that in listening is fun. We have been working on it but making very slow progress. Tunnels are the hardest. Any piece of equipment near a tunnel in her opinion can not be taken on its own. In practice I can get her attention and bring her back to me or on to another piece of equipment, but when we put it together for a full course she loses it. Didn’t know if this is something you might have a suggestion about.

We also have a 20 month old Shepard and we thought that we might like to try agility with her. We have started Schutzhund training with her and our trainer feels that if we are doing Schutzhund then that is all we should do. He feels that it is confusing to the dog. He feel that we should only concentrate on one type of training.  We love to learn new things and would like to do both or even other training with our dogs. How do you feel about this.

Cathy

Answer:

If you are clear on your training, there is no reason that a dog can’t participate in multiple sports. Unfortunately, most people leave too much “grey area” in the dog’s foundation so it makes it confusing to the dog.

From your description of your 4 year old dog, I would guess that your dog doesn’t have a clear idea of what the rules are and you haven’t properly taught her to be engaged with you. Telling her “she’s rude” doesn’t mean anything to her. I would stop doing agility with this dog right now. Otherwise all you are doing is letting her practice the same bad behavior over and over.

I have a few recommendations for you.  Start from scratch and teach a communication system that you can use no matter what sport you choose to do.  Dogs need to learn to engage with you to get what they want, and if they don’t engage with you then they don’t play.  It’s very simple but a lot of folks have trouble sticking to it.  Give up the idea of actually doing agility right now and go back to teaching her that to get what she wants (agility) she needs to follow your direction.

I’d read this article on marker training.

I would then recommend

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

Don’t get ahead of yourself and let her run off leash on a course, because then if she makes the wrong choice you will have reinforced her for blowing you off again.

Retraining dogs like this can be a very long and tedious process, and if you aren’t consistent you may never fix it but just don’t get in a hurry and spend the time now working on the foundation of engagement.  It’s really the only way.  You have to make playing WITH you more fun than running around like a wild woman.

I’d also do all of the same work with your young dog, because the foundation for Schutzhund, agility, obedience, ring sport and search/rescue is all the same.

You can go to our streaming video page to watch Michael Ellis’s lectures and some training clips.

I hope this helps. Cindy


11. Question:

I have an 8 months old American Staffordshire Terrier... He knows basic obedience (sit, down, beg, stay) but I don’t really know how to make him release the Frisbee once he got it… I have tried to throw one Frisbee while keeping another one with me to lure him to me. Once he got to me he released the one he just got to get the one with me and then I would throw the other one... This does not seem to be working.

What is the best way to teach a dog to bring things to you and “Aus” them as requested?

Best Regards,
Freitas

Answer:

A Frisbee is a more difficult item to teach the OUT with than a tug.  I would teach the dog rules of play with a tug FIRST, and then transfer it to the disc. If your dog won’t return a toy to you, then he shouldn’t be allowed to play right now.

I’d recommend The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog.  You can click on the link and read the description of what’s on the video (it’s over 5 hours of really great info).

I hope this helps. Cindy


12. Question:

Hi, Cindy,

I have a 15 week old GSD. I am struggling to get his prey drive going. He isn't interested in ragging on a towel or chasing a ball. I have seen both parents and they have high prey drive but my pup just isn't interested. Could it be his age as I have been told to give him time and he will develop his drive?

Thank you for any advice,
Steve

Answer:

Some dogs take a while for their drive to kick in. I personally like to see it early, but it’s possible for dogs to develop at different rates. Realize that right now your pup is also teething, so it’s a bad time to try to play any type of tugging games with him. His mouth may be sore and a negative experience during teething can inhibit some dogs from wanting to play prey games later on.

I would work on getting him engaged with you with food, and you can actually use the food as a “toy” to help develop his prey drive. This is covered in our Food DVD I’ll link below.

We have a new series of videos on how to do this. Start with The Power of Training Dogs with Markers and The Power of Training Dogs with Food. Once your pup is done teething, I’d recommend The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog. You can click on the links to read full descriptions of the content in each DVD.

I hope this helps. Cindy


13. Question:

Hello Cindy,
 
I have a question about playing tug with my dog. When I play tug, he gets really excited which I like, but when he jumps up for the tug he swings his front legs at me. One at the hand holding the tug and one like he is trying to push my body away even when I hold the tug as far out as possible and when he does hit me with his paw it hurts. Also when I reward him with the tug he is fast and can jump rather high so there are times he gets close to getting my hand. Any advice you can give me would be great. Also I am saving to buy the tug DVDs you offer. Thank you for your time.
 
Dominic 

Answer:

You can search the website under the Q & A section; I believe your questions have been answered there. Really, the tug video will help you iron all this out. Explaining the technique you need to play tug correctly goes beyond the scope of an email. 

I’d recommend The Power of Training Dogs with Food before you get the tug video, it will explain all the foundation work in Michael’s system.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps. Cindy


14. Question:

Have not used a toy like this as a reward. As a matter of fact I have not used a toy at all to reward for bringing me back something I have tossed out. He loves to bring any ball i throw but not as a reward. So how do I break him away from just wanting to chase and bring back his ball to throwing something else entirely and then rewarding him with this throw ball I am now purchasing. He is around three (3) years old and has a very high prey/play drive so I think changing him from just returning with his favorite ball to something else entirely just might not be as easy I would like it to be.

I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth of your tapes and this is the first time for a question such as this. I am now waiting anxiously to read your response so I can get my German Shepherd, Rommel, on the correct path of training. Thanks for all your excellent products and I am sure this one will be no exception.

Gary

Answer:

If you want to use a toy as a reward during training for a dog like yours, the key is to not play the usual fetch games that you have been. I’d recommend setting up a new communication system for the dog, where they learn how to access rewards (first food, then a tug and then eventually a ball).

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

Once the dog understands the tug as a reward, then you can transfer to the ball. The reason we use the tug first is because it’s much easier to present and teach the proper out for this type of training. We don’t want the dog spitting the toy out onto the floor, we want to keep our hands on the item and then re-engage immediately after the out. This is very hard to do during the teaching phase with a ball.

I hope this helps. Cindy


15. Question:

Hi,

I have a 4 year old dog who has lived with us for about 2 years now. Due to issues with strangers, other dogs, and anxiety we have found a wonderful trainer and have been actively involved in obedience training for several months. The trainer has also assisted us in making changes in our home to establish pack order. He's made huge gains and we no longer consider rehoming him as we did when he first arrived. My question now is that we need some ideas for "playing."  He loves to go on walks (and if he were allowed, chase squirrels and other moving animals!). However, he does not fetch, retrieve, or anything of that nature. He's very, very food driven. Although he is exercised a lot, there are some days that we don't get to a walk. I would love to be able to have a good game of fetch with him on those days, or any other game. The kids (9,11 years) would also like a way to interact with him in a playful way. He does have a tug toy but that doesn't interest him for long. Any suggestions or resources you could direct me to to increase our play time would be great!

Thanks!

Answer:

Since he has really good food drive, I’d first teach him a new communication system using the food. We just released a new series that starts off with using food and then progressing to the tug. Once the dog will play with you and the tug, you can transfer to a ball or other item.

It’s a great way to exercise him mentally and also interact with him in a constructive way that builds his relationship with you. I think your kids are old enough to do this work also, so it would be a win-win situation.

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions.  It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps. Cindy


16. Question:

Cindy,

I'm amazed by the focused heeling video that Ed just sent out. I have a few questions. My dog has only food drive, though it's a very strong food drive. Will this be a problem for that training? Will tugs be involved in the focused heeling training? The site has jute tugs that you can put food in, would that be a good to teach my terrier mix to like tugs?

I'm also wondering if the DVD would be good for dog owners not engaged in any competition training.

Thanks.

-Ben

Answer:

You can certainly use food drive to train dogs, tugging isn’t necessary unless you want to do some type of biting sport.

Before you would train focused heeling, I’d recommend The Power of Training Dogs with Food first.  If you want to teach your dog to tug, then I’d also recommend The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog.

Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis is geared towards ANYONE who wishes to teach their dog focused heeling, you don’t need to be interested in competition to do this. I think it’s fun, regardless of your goals.

Cindy


17. Question:

Hi,

I looked through your Q and A and did not find the exact answer I am looking for. I will try to be quick.

I have a 4 month old aussie/BC cross who I will be training for agility (and life skills in general). Right now we are just playing. She is not overly driven but does enjoy tugging, etc. The problem... and I do not really see it so much of a problem but she really prefers tugging on the sleeves of my sweatshirts over any toy that we play with. I tried using a glove... not the same. I actually enjoy how she gets into it as she enjoys it also. I am thinking that if I get one of your puppy sleeves and then teach her that she only gets to tug on my sleeves when I have this on, that we can continue her favorite game and help build her drive, she is a bit soft.

Thank you for your time,
Micki

Answer:

I wouldn't allow this behavior to continue. In order to use tugs as a reward for training, the dog needs to tug on what you want them too. Many high prey drive dogs like to tug on clothes but you are setting yourself up for a problem later in training if you allow this to go on.

If she likes the sweatshirt material, then make a tug out of it. DO NOT let her continue to do this on your arm, because as her drive builds with maturity you will wish you hadn't. I've seen others make this mistake.

I'd use a sweatshirt on a string or leash, and get her tugging on that and when she's doing that well I'd switch to a pocket tug or something that you will be able to carry on you for an agility reward.

I'd also recommend The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog.

Cindy


18. Question:

Just watched the DVD, great stuff! Already notice a HUGE improvement in my dogs "out."

One question, if you get to the point where you say "yes" and they aren't that interested, does that mean you "outplayed them" with it? Meaning, I should have stopped the game much sooner?

Thank you

Answer:

You are correct, you made the session too long for your dog at this stage.
Go back to working engagement in short, intense sessions.

Cindy Rhodes


19. Question:

Cindy,

I have an 80 lb GSD. I would like to purchase a bite tug to use as a reward for basic obedience training. Can you recommend something?
 
Thanks!
Jeff

Answer:

Hi Jeff,

I use all of these tugs with my Malinois for obedience.

You may also get a lot out of this newer video release, as it will show in detail how to use the tug for an obedience reward; The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


20. Question:

Hi Cindy,

My 2 1/2 year old, 105 lb. rottie injured her cruciate ligament and through months of confinement to the house except to go potty she is back to about 80-85% of what she was doing prior to the injury. Now that summer is back and the pool is open I'd like to get her in it. However, she will only sit on the steps with her front feet and chest in the water. I have seen videos of your dogs in the pool and I'm curious if they were naturally fans of the water or if you had to get them used to it and what can I do to get her in the pool and having fun and exercising? This past weekend I picked her up and put her in but she seemed distressed the whole time even though I never let her go and kept talking to her. I don't want to do this wrong and end up making her more afraid of it.

Thanks for any insight you can give,
Jeff

Answer:

Most of our dogs needed work to get them to like the pool. If I was using it for therapy with a dog that wasn’t thrilled with the pool, I think I’d recommend getting her a life jacket so she doesn’t flail around and reinjure the leg.

I start by sitting on the steps with them, and gradually working our way in. It’s always best if the dog makes the choice to go in on his or her own instead of being forced in. This may take minutes or it may take a week, depending on the dog. If she has a toy she likes, take that in and kind of float it in front of her nose, just out of reach. I also keep a leash on the dog at first. I teach them that the only place to get out is at the stairs (as a safety thing). You don’t want a dog to fall in and panic and not know how to get out. Dogs can drown if they don’t know where to exit.

If you use the search function on the website and type in “swimming” you’ll get a lot of info as well.  This is located in the upper left corner of every page of the website.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

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