Why do I tug with my dog? – Bad Dog Agility Academy

Why do I tug with my dog?

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  • zenipenn says:

    Your comment about being able to tug in the ring & not being able to take food is exactly what prompted me to sign up for this! My (barely) 2.5 y.o. has a perfect SLS, but totally loses focus between the gate and the start line. It’s getting to be more of a struggle. I need to nip it in the bud. Would love to get that extra focus to keep his attention on me. And as I saw in another comment, he often won’t play in a high stress situation. I am looking for anywhere, anytime!

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      This course will help you reach your goal. One thing to focus on right away for a good tugger is to take the behavior to as many new places as you can, and encourage weight shifting from the dog, and offering re-bites, in combination with eye contact to “start” the game. Aim for short sessions less than a minute long, in different rooms inside the house, including small spaces and different surfaces, and places outside all around the house.

  • JamminCosmo says:

    My dog does not like to have his leash put on after a run (he runs “naked” in every venue for safety, and also so I don’t accidentally leave his collar on in a venue that doesn’t permit it). I have reduced his aversion by using a widely adjustable collar/lead combo that can be snugged up after it is put on. He is much happier with this. He is also VERY keen to leave the ring after a run to get his food reward. I am hoping that the possibility of playing a fun game for a couple of seconds as we leave the ring, or immediately afterward will help with both of these issues.

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Yes, it will be helpful for you to extend the behavior chain beyond the last obstacle, so that the dog understands there are several more behaviors required. I use hand touches and eye contact with tugging as a reward, but tugging can also be a behavior in the chain. Your issue is the same as a dog who skips the last obstacle or two to run straight to their leash or hidden food outside of the ring–it’s something you have to train and teach the dog. You have the right idea!

  • cordell.barbara@gmail.com says:

    I have noticed while observing trials that many times a dog will bypass an obstacle located near the chair where the leash is and run straight for the leash!! Is this problem addressed in the course? If I remember, Esteban has an “end of run” routine (I saw him do with Gitchi I believe) which required a hand touch before leaving the ring. Maybe something like that is a solution to this problem.

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      That is not specifically addressed, but we are continuing to add lessons and videos as topics come up. The short answer is a combination of a great crate to crate routine (such as the nose touch, then leash, then tug that Esteban did with Gitchi) as well as teaching your dog to ignore toys on the ground until cued.

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      I’ll add a section on dealing with this problem in the “Tugging for Competition” section. The answer is to introduce a chair into your training field and also move the toy around, building up to other toys on the ground, until the dog is proofed to ignore all of them except for the one you pick up and present to the dog–that is, they give you continued attention, mixed in with hand touches, spins, and other simple behaviors, until you reach their final destination, the leash. They should not be released to the leash. This is difficult for some dogs because understand that the toy is often thrown and the dog encouraged to run to it ahead of the handler, and when the leash is swapped for a toy in trials, why would the dog think the rules are different?

      • cordell.barbara@gmail.com says:

        Yes, I agree that running ahead to the leash (which in the dog’s mind is the “toy”) is most likely the problem. Thank you and Sarah. Looking forward to guidance in avoiding this problem.

  • Kathleen Graham says:

    I also do obedience with my dogs. Will this course help to keep the drive up during my test?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      You’ll need to adapt to what’s allowed in and around the obedience ring. I think you can certainly develop a routine that involves tugging after your test. Discuss this with your obedience coach and email me at team@baddogagility.com so we can figure out a routine that works for you, and then to make it happen on the tugging side.

  • Zinnes says:

    Hi: I guess I misunderstood how this course would work. I thought there would be a set of exercises that would lead you through the various steps to tugging. While the videos show you the principles with demos its not always clear how to proceed with your own dog.
    I have a 6 year old Keeshond who actually has some good tugging as well as retrieving skills but who is far more motivated by food. So while I can get him to tug at home when he feels playful I can’t transfer this behavior anywhere else. He will also run for balls and bring them back but is totally uninterested in this sport in an agility setting.
    My other problem is my physical limitation — I can’t run and while I could walk and tug I need to be careful not to trip and fall. When we tug at home I often use a chair.
    Is this just the wrong course for us or do you have some suggestions?

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Since you are also a VIP member, you can certainly send us video of where you are at in your tugging journey. I would treat the “tugging games” section as exercises to mix into your tugging to increase your dog’s enjoyment of the game and make it a higher value reward.

      I would compare your tugging execution to the ideal to see if there are mechanical tweaks that you can make in your toy presentation, tug, and release that will further increase your dog’s toy drive.

      I don’t think you need to tug and run, my normal “tug as reward” would involve throwing the toy as a reward, letting the dog chase it, bite it, retrieve it to me, and THEN we tug while standing still. I do typically tug as transport, but you could also out during transport (moving back to the beginning of a sequence for example) and then tug again once there.

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Feedback from Esteban: https://youtu.be/2RDq6xDXbIQ

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