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We welcomed our Malinois "F" litter born on March 19, 2014. All 4 girls and 3 boys are doing well. Mother is Endeavor du Loups du Soleil MR 1 (owned by Cindy Rhodes & Forrest Micke) and dad is Escobar du Cote Obscur FR 3 (owned by Chad Hunter). All puppies are reserved.

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Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: My puppy is teething, is there a soft tug I can use for playing with her right now?

I recently started playing tug with my four month old BC. Outside of food it seems that's when I get the most focus out of her when training. It has helped me out tremendously in working on recalls, getting a solid out and building a retrieve (she does not like balls). The problem is now she is teething. Is there a soft enough tug that I can use if I lessen the intensity of the game or any other form of play that you think might be as useful?

Thank You

Cindy's Response:

While pups are teething, I don’t really play tug at all. I work on food engagement as shown in The Power of Training Dogs with Food.

I don’t want to risk an uncomfortable experience for the pup, simply because I was too impatient to wait for the teething process to be finished. Some people continue to play but I don’t. You really can’t know how a bit of mouth pain will affect your pup and if the association is made between pain & tugging it may be hard for certain dogs to forget.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Puppies or our Q&A on Playing Tug.

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this week's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Q&A Search. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On One of Leerburg's Recent Newsletter Q&As

Hi Cindy,

Hope all is well. I just read your response to the woman whose dog isn't good with other dogs since the Jack Russells attacked her dog. My mixed breed dog also was attached by 3 significantly smaller dogs about 3 years ago. Bella was only 3 at the time and while she was much larger and did more injury to one of the other dogs, it was still an attack on her and made a tremendous change to her temperament around other/unknown dogs.

I have to agree with you, Bella has never fully recovered from the attack and is VERY leery around other dogs (other than her one dog friend she grew up with). She walks EXCELLENT on leash and will ignore every other dog who is on a leash, but if an unleashed dog approaches us, she goes straight into defense-attack mode, so I really have to be alert and take charge. I've learned to be very responsible and identify where and where not to walk her as my county has very irresponsible pet owners who let their dogs roam free with no supervision and limited enforcement of the leash laws.

Bella is a loving, sweet dog but the attack has been a real learning experience for me and I just try my best not to put her in a position where she'll fail. One of my friends said I was being "mean" not to let her try to "learn" to play with other dogs but I look at it more like I'm keeping her safe and not putting her in situations where she's clearly uncomfortable. I see no reason for her to play with other dogs and she's good with our "pack" which includes her Yorkie/Chihuahua friend and 2 cats. She's a very happy, active dog who interacts BEAUTIFULLY with me and my human visitors and while I wish the attack never happened, it did and hopefully, I've helped her recover as best as I could.


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