How to Train Your Dog to Pull a Rope

Easy
1-3 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Tug of war can be one of the most enjoyable games you can play with your pup. Most dogs like to shake things in their mouths and use their teeth to play tug. Many dog trainers feel that playing tug helps to keep your pup both physically and mentally stimulated. It can also help reduce the amount of negative behavior you have to deal with.

The good news is that most dogs seem to instinctively know how to play tug, and it won't take much in the way of training to get your pup playing a rousing round of tug with you. But there are those dogs who will need more than just a little training to learn to play the game the right way. 

Defining Tasks

This is one of the best games to teach your pup, and typically involves using a length of rope with knots tied in it, or any one of dozens of special tug toys you can buy in any pet store. Tug also lets your dog get in plenty of good healthy exercise. It makes your dog think about what he is doing and work at it rather than just letting excitement overrule the game. As with most new tricks you want to teach your dog, he should have already mastered the four basic commands, 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'.

Keep in mind that if your dog tends to be a bit on the "mouthy" side, you can always use a longer tug toy until your pup masters this particular skill. This might help you to avoid being accidentally nipped while you are playing. Try to make sure that any tug toy you choose is nice and soft, making it easier for your dog to wrap his mouth around and hang on to. 

Getting Started

You can teach almost any age dog to play tug-of-rope, but you should wait until your pup is around 1 year old so that his teeth are set in his gums and his bones have had time to become strong. Of course, there are a few things you might find come in handy during the training process, including:

  • Treats: You need a large supply of your pup's favorite treats to reward him.
  • A tug toy: It can be a length of rope or a special tug toy, whatever your pup will play with.
  • Clicker: If you have been using a clicker for training, it's okay to use one now.

Beyond these items, the only other things you need are plenty of time and patience. It will also help if you have a nice quiet place to work. Remember, you are trying to train your dog to play a new game, be patient. If your dog is like most, he will pick this one up quite quickly and before long he will be bringing you a tug toy and begging you to play with him. 

The Take It Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start with the rope
Start out by calling your pup over and offer him the training rope using the cue words "take it". When he grabs the rope in his mouth, give him lots of praise.
Step
2
Gentle tugs
Once your pup has the rope in his mouth, try gently tugging on it. If he immediately releases it, try again. Keep trying until he will hang on to the rope and hold on and start to pull back. Give him a treat and lots of praise.
Step
3
Introduce the 'tug' command
This time when your pup grabs the rope in his mouth, give him the cue, "Tug!" When he starts to pull back on the rope, go ahead and give him a treat and praise him for doing the right thing.
Step
4
The 'give' command
So now your pup will tug on the rope, but how do you get him to stop? You have to teach him the 'give' command. To do this, wait until your dog is pulling on the rope, hold out a treat and give him the cue, "Give!". When he releases the rope, go ahead and praise him and give him a treat.
Step
5
Practice will earn rewards
The rest is all about taking the time to practice playing tug of war several times a day to make sure your pup will 'take it' and 'give' on command. The more you practice, the better your pup will get at the game and the more exercise he will get.
Recommend training method?

The Peanut Butter Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start with peanut butter
Take one end of the rope toy and smear a small amount of peanut butter on it. Let your dog sniff at it and then lick the peanut butter off the end. Repeat this until your pup starts chewing on the end of the rope.
Step
2
Wiggle time
When your dog starts nibbling on the toy, take the other end and wiggle the rope gently.
Step
3
Rinse and repeat
Keep repeating this process, tugging a little harder on your end of the rope. If your pup drops the toy, keep trying. He will soon figure it out.
Step
4
This means war
Keep working your way up to the point at which your dog will start pulling back on the toy and playing tug-of-war with you.
Step
5
The ball is in your court
The rest is all about taking a few minutes to play tug several times a day. It's good for both of you as a form of exercise and a way to bond.
Recommend training method?

The Get Excited Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start with pulling from your hand
Get your pup super excited about pulling a rope from your hand by waving it around in front of his face. When he grabs the rope, give him a treat.
Step
2
Attach the rope
Attach the rope to an object that your pup should be able to tug on without it moving. A training crate makes a good choice, as you can attach the rope to the door.
Step
3
Grab the rope
Shake the rope again and have your pup grab it in his mouth. This time have him pull on the rope to open the door to his crate. Be sure to praise him and reward him when he does.
Step
4
In the crate
Once he has the door open, have him go in his crate and lie down. Be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Call him back out of his crate and repeat the training until he will come over to the crate, pull on the rope, and open the door anytime you ask him to.
Step
5
Move on
When your dog has reached the point where he will pull on the rope anytime you give him the 'pull' command, you can play tug of war with him, train him to use a rope to pull carts, sleighs, open doors, or pull on any number of other items. Just remember to take your time and make the entire training process fun for both of you.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Goku
pitbull
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Goku
pitbull
10 Weeks

Hello, how do I keep my dog quiet while we are in my room alone with toys but everyone is in living room?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maurilio, Are you in the room with her and she is barking while playing? Or is she barking because you are with everyone else and she is in the room by herself? I suggest crate training her either way. She will bark a lot at first no matter what you do, but she should learn within a week or so to relax in the crate. If she is being loud while you are in the room with her, then you can put her into her crate with a fun, food stuffed hollow Kong chew-toy, to give her something quiet to do, and to help her calm down and rest. A lot of puppies her age will get really excited and wild when they start to get tired, and they actually need some time to rest and calm down. A crate with a class Kong toy or other hollow, safe, chew-toy stuffed with her food and a bit of peanut butter or liver paste, is a good way for her to calm down. Also, work on rewarding her quietness. When she barks, very softly tell her "Quiet" and put your finger on your lips and get close to her. When she gets quiet for a second to figure out what you are doing, then reward her with a treat. This will take a lot of repetition before she understands the word, but the more you reward her quietness, the better she should get at obeying that command and calming herself down when you use it. It's important for you to be very soft and calm when you do this, or it will not work. When you catch her randomly laying down being calm, you can also put a piece of her food between her paws so encourage her to do that on her own more often. She will probably jump up the first few times, excited about the treat, but should soon start laying down quietly on her own more, in hopes of a treat. Also, during play, try giving her something to hold in her mouth, so that she is less likely to bark while you are playing with her on the floor. If she is barking to get to the rest of the family or because she is alone without you, then crate train her, give her a food stuffed chew toy with peanut butter or liver paste smeared around the rim and mixed into the food a bit, and whenever she gets quiet for even a couple of seconds, return to her and drop treats into the crate to encourage quietness. Do not let her out of the crate until she is quiet for at least a couple of seconds. It typically takes a couple weeks of consistency doing these things for a puppy to stop crying in her crate or room. The crate when she is by herself will feel safer than being in an open room by herself though, so she will be more likely to relax in there than when she is just left in the room out of the crate, and it will keep her from getting hurt if no one is there watch her chewing on things. Check out the article below for how to get her used to the crate. You can do one or more methods from that article. I suggest focusing on the "Surprise" method for her the most though, if she likes food. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

He barks when we are alone in the room because people are in kitchen eating and talking and he wants to go with them, but i can't have them around parents while they eat so he needs to understand he has to stay with me. Maybe he misses my sister but i need him to calm down in this situation because it gets me frustrated as well.

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