Picture your tug toy as a furry little creature trying to escape your dog. Your tug toy will scurry back and forth, from side to side, darting and sprinting away from your dog. Sometimes, your tug toy will remain perfectly still, freezing for a moment before making a mad dash to escape.
Thinking of your tug toy as prey will help you play with your dog in an interesting, enticing way. You will notice the difference in your dog’s curiosity and attitude right away.
Later, when your dog is an experienced tugging machine, you will be able to present his favorite tug toy in front of his face while he remains focused on you and then tugs like a maniac on a verbal cue. But when you are teaching a dog to tug, moving your toy like prey will activate his brain on an instinctual level and help you develop this valuable training skill.
The video below will show you how to make your toy come alive!
1. Use small, jerky movements that move the toy away from your dog.
2. Keep the toy very low, preferably on the ground. If this is too hard on your back, use a string attached to your toy.
3. Avoid waving the toy in front of your dog’s face. Don’t chase your dog with the toy. Your dog won’t have a safe place to bite, and soft dogs will be intimidated.
4. Keep your body separate from the toy so your dog will not think that YOU are the prey. Don’t hide your toy behind you; don’t whip your toy high off the ground or above your head as your dog may accidentally bite your arm or body. Let him chase and interact with the toy, not with you.
Good suggestions. Interestingly, though, hiding the toy behind me is the sure-fire thing that has always gotten Tika more interested in playing when all the other “look like prey” tricks don’t. “Where’s your toy?” and she perks up and leaps behind me to find it. So it might depend on the dog and the dog’s experience with toys.
I love the video experience of having the toy shoved in my face. Nicer than the way some trainers will do it, by actually shoving the toy in transgressors’ faces. 🙂