Watch for the Weight Shift
Your dog likes to win. They want to pull on the toy and see that they can move you toward them. If they tug with you but you always stand like an unmoving mountain, many dogs will lose interest in tugging. Especially in the beginning, I let my dog “win” a lot by pulling me around. I look for the all-important weight shift backwards and frequently mark that behavior with verbal praise and releasing the toy to the dog, which ends the session. For many dogs, winning the toy by forcing me to let go of it is the ultimate prize, and quickly leads to more weight shifting backwards in future tugging sessions.
How to Tug with Toys on a Line
Esteban explains how he manages the extra length on toys attached to a line.
How to Tug with Medium Length Fleece Toys
Follow Esteban's demonstration below and try this with your own dog. It can be helpful to mentally visualize yourself doing this and even practicing with the toy (without your dog) before you make the actual attempt.
How to Tug with Dog on Leash
Esteban shows you exactly how to tug with a leash while your dog is still hooked up to the leash, as well as how to safely unclip the leash and continue tugging in preparation for setting up a start line.
How to Present the Hol-ee Roller
Esteban demonstrates how to use the Hol-ee Roller. This toy is a squishable ball-like tug that rolls in a predictable way and is commonly used in running contact training or distance work where the dog must learn to focus forward and accelerate away from the handler by chasing the ball.
Protect Your Back
Make sure you keep your back straight and you bring the toy closer to the ground by squatting rather than rounding your back. In this video, I demonstrate the body position I try to hold with very strong tugging dogs. Even so, this will not guarantee non-injury, and if you have health problems or a history of injury please check with your doctor before engaging in this type of activity with your dog.
Protect Yourself with Strong Tuggers
Many dogs who enjoy tugging, especially large working dogs, will violently shake their head from side to side while they hold grip the toy. This powerful force can be transmitted to the handler's arm and body, resulting in discomfort or even injury. Esteban shares his advice for working with these dogs in the video below.