google.com, pub-1355929376209830, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0Dog Growls When Playing Tug of War: Good or Bad? - Puppy Small
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Dog Growls When Playing Tug of War: Good or Bad?

New dog owners are often blindsided by their dog’s growling during play.

But first-time buyers aren’t the only ones who might be surprised.

Experienced owners may have never encountered a growling dog.

Growling is usually not limited to tug-of-war. It also occurs when dogs play with each other.

You may have heard that growling is a means of communication, but it can also be used as a warning.

So let’s see how to distinguish between harmless growling during play and the kind of growling that serves as a warning.

There are many causes for your dog growling and some signs that will tell you whether or not you should be concerned.

When done properly, tug of war is the ultimate training tool, but it is not suitable for all dogs.

Dog growls during tug of war

Dogs often growl during tug-of-war to communicate and express their excitement. Impulse control, an ‘Off’ command and short breaks prevent over-excitement.

My Rottweiler growls during tug-of-war and has done so from an early age.

My Rottweiler Amalia plays with a frisbee.
Photo by Pawleaks

She also does it occasionally when she plays with other dogs.

It’s always baffling to see how many dog ​​owners think that growling is solely a sign of aggression and nothing else.

Growling serves as a way to tell other dogs to back away from their toy, it’s a way to express excitement, and it can also be a warning.

But how do you know if it’s excitement or aggression?

Be here 4 signals that indicate whether your dog’s growling during tug-of-war is worrying:

  • Does your dog give the toy freely when you use the Off command?
  • Does your dog run off with the toy after you let it go or offer it to you?
  • Are there any physical signs (tense, hackles, growling)?
  • Can you recognize other signs of possessive behavior?

If your dog won’t give you the toy after a verbal command (assuming you’ve trained him), won’t interact with you, and isn’t relaxed during play, then it might be time to condition a different response .

However, if your dog is simply very excited and shows no signs of aggression, there is probably no behavioral problem.

Some breeds are simply more growing than others.

Did you know that some dogs even growl when they are petted? Likewise, the reasons range from serious behavioral problems to pleasure grunts.

Weimaraner waits for someone to throw a green ball.
Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

What should you do before playing tug-of-war with your dog?

The best thing you can do is incorporate an “Off” command into your training routine and learn to read your dog’s body language.

In general, it’s best to learn impulse control and end gaming sessions on good terms.

Also avoid tug-of-war in recent rescues because you don’t know how they react and some dogs become extremely driven by games that involve chasing or preying in some way.

Seniors and puppies need light pressure. In general, you should adjust the pressure to suit your type of dog and avoid extremely sudden up and down movements.

When done correctly, pulling strengthens your bond, exercises your dog, builds self-confidence and can be used to teach impulse control.

Does tug-of-war make dogs aggressive?

No, tug-of-war does not make dogs aggressive unless aggression is explicitly encouraged and the dog is uncontrollable with verbal commands.

You can play rough with your dog, I do it too.

People often have the misconception that tug-of-war alone will make your dog aggressive.

It can happen that these types of games are used to condition unwanted behavior, but that will not happen with simple jumping rope.

Avoid pushing a dog over its limits, rewarding extremely rough play, or being unable to control your dog.

Without going into further details, there are negative methods of using harmless games – such as tugging – to promote aggression.

To avoid promoting aggression, teach a correct “Off” command, make bringing the toy to you fun, and end sessions on a good note (e.g., swapping a treat for a toy).

There are actually studies looking at the connections between play and dominance and how it affects temperament.

Should I Let My Dog Win Tug of War?

Yes, it’s important to let your dog win the tug-of-war sometimes to avoid frustration, but make sure you stay in control at all times with a strong “Off” command.

I let my Rottweiler win tug-of-war all the time and she still gives up the toy when I tell her to, no matter how excited she is.

Actually, as you’ll see below, it’s probably best for their teeth and neck if you let them go sometimes, rather than insisting on winning.

Some dog owners still believe that a dog becomes dominant if it always wins.

You may be contributing to pre-existing problems by letting them win all the time if you have no control over the dog.

However, a healthy and well-trained dog must win to build trust.

How long should you play tug-of-war with a dog?

You can do tug-of-war every other day for 2-3 sessions of up to 5-15 minutes, or as long as your dog is interested.

Generally, there is no time limit on how long you can play tug of war with your dog.

However, it is best not to put too much strain on the neck and teeth. Furthermore, pushing play sessions past the fun limit can reduce interest in the game.

It is also never a good idea to encourage your dog to go beyond the point of exhaustion.

Personally, I play tug-of-war with my Rottweiler almost every day and it’s super fun.

Sometimes our play sessions only last 3-5 minutes and she just keeps chewing the toy.

And other times we really get into it and play tug-of-war for 10-15 minutes with some light tugging and very rough play.

Is tug-of-war bad for a dog’s neck or teeth?

Tug of war is unlikely to harm a dog’s neck or teeth if played reasonably.

Reasonable play does not mean extremely sudden movements where you rip the toy from one side of the mouth to the other.

I would also avoid pulling too hard and instead use your feet and walk towards your dog, which is also super fun for most dogs.

It’s a bit of a back and forth dance and sometimes it’s okay to just let your dog grab the toy instead of holding on to it for dear life.

I’ve wondered about that myself because our teeth would be ruined, especially if I played with my 100-pound Rottweiler.

To date, I have never witnessed anyone having problems with their dog’s neck or teeth that were determined to be caused by tug-of-war.

However, stay safe and don’t be too rough with your dog.

And if you have a senior, your dog is suffering from a medical condition or is recovering from an injury or surgery, stay away from heavier tug-of-war.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not and does not intend to replace veterinary attention. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows signs of illness, call your vet.

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