Last updated: January 24, 2013

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Animal Training and Behaviour Centre A dog playing the tug of war game as a training exercise.


Tug is interactive; it requires you to be on the other end of the tug toy which makes this a very powerful tool, it also helps to increase handler focus.

To make this a successful games there are some rules to be followed.

The tug toy is yours (not the dog’s) don’t let it lie around for the dog to play with it alone.

Always start and finish the game.

If the dogs’ teeth ever meet skin (even by accident) end the game immediately.

Teach a reliable ‘Give’.

Tug is a self-rewarding behaviour for your dog, and is a great way to maintain focus on you whenever your dog is distracted.


Give is an essential behaviour to teach before the tug game proceeds too far. It is also important that the dog learns to give both the toy and balls to hand in sports like Agility or Flyball.

To teach ‘give’ offer dog a high value treat such as roast chicken in exchange for the toy, the dog has to release the toy to take the food, (don’t forget to click at the same time).

Repeat this exercise until the dog is anticipating the food, (be careful not to reward if the dog lets go of the toy when you are not holding it) then add the command ‘give’.

Gradually increase the time the dog has the toy in its mouth before asking for give. As you build the duration you can add a command like ‘hold’ to indicate that the dog is to continue with the toy in its mouth).


RSPCA animal training courses are available across Australia:

  • Queensland: call the RSPCA Animal Training & Behaviour Centre for further information in regard to courses available on (07) 3426 9928.
  • Victoria: for any information on training and behaviour in Victoria call Amanda Murcutt on 92242521.
  • West Australia: call the RSPCA PawsCentral Adoption Centre for further information about courses available near you on (08) 9209-9309 or visit the RSPCA WA website.
  • NSW: Information is available on the RSPCA NSW website.
  • Australian Capital Territory: Information is available on the RSPCA ACT website.
  • South Australia: Contact information is available on the RSPCA SA website.
  • Northern Territory: Contact information is available on the RSPCA Darwin website.
  • Tasmania: Training is available at the Hobart Animal Care Centre in Mornington. Go to the RSPCA Tasmania website for further information.

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