Dog agility trainers understand the importance of developing drive in their dogs, and many utilize tugging with toys to create focus, emphasize enthusiasm, and nurture the bond between handler and dog. Yet many trainers struggle with teaching their dog to release toys in a way that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for the game. The toy release often becomes a power struggle between handler and dog, and the battle can sometimes damage the drive and trust between the two.
In the video below, Sarah uses a Hol-ee Roller toy to tug with a 14-week old border collie puppy. To improve the dog’s grip on the toy, Sarah gently places her hand on the puppy’s muzzle during the game. To teach the release, Sarah immobilizes the toy and provides a verbal cue “Give” and as soon as the puppy releases the toy, she marks the behavior with a “Yes” and immediately says “Get It” as she restarts the game. In the teaching phase, there should be no delay in restarting the game. In this way, the puppy will learn that releasing the toy simply means that she will have the opportunity, to chase, pounce, bite, and tug again right away.
Here are three additional articles on teaching the release, demonstrated by three different dogs.
- Puppy Tugging: Teaching the Release
- 3 Step Release – Follow Up Video
- Teach Your Dog to Release the Tug Toy