4

I see a lot of questions here and on other sites answering the psychological hazards of tug, but I don't see anywhere discussing the physical.

I have a small Shih Tzu puppy, under 5 pounds (<2 kg) right now. She loves to play tug with me, and has gotten really good at it. At this point I can slide her around the floor all I want, but I am not getting the toy without making her drop it, or playing rougher than I think is safe.

Here are a couple of specific questions.

Do I need to worry about pulling the toy up? I feel like all the force goes on her neck, and I don't know if that can do some sort of damage. There is a lot of sudden movement from both of us as we play.

Do I need to worry about her teeth? She still has baby teeth, and a couple of times the rope slipped and I got it, I was worried about how rapid it was, and if I could pull out or chip a tooth.

From the dog's point of view she is having a great time, and is not in any distress from either aspect, but I am still concerned, as she wants to play tug for as long as I can handle. I want to make sure I am not causing any harm.

5

There is a possibility of harm

To answer your specific questions:

Do I need to worry about pulling the toy up? I feel like all the force goes on her neck, and I don't know if that can do some sort of damage. There is a lot of sudden movement from both of us as we play.

Just like any other similar situation, exerting force suddenly can cause damage. Depending on how hard and fast you pull the toy up or down, you can seriously injure your puppy's neck. Just like if you suddenly jerked your head back or forth, you could injure yourself, it is the same for dogs (especially dogs with prior injuries or health problems and puppies).

Do I need to worry about her teeth? She still has baby teeth, and a couple of times the rope slipped and I got it, I was worried about how rapid it was, and if I could pull out or chip a tooth.

Yes. You do. Puppies' teeth, mouth, and jaw are developing. You can cause severe harm to them by playing tug a war incorrectly. Never tug harder than your dog is tugging and never jerk the rope or try to drag your puppy.

However, there are ways to do it right. Learn how to train your puppy to play tug of war here. Learn more about what the rules of tug of war should be here.

3
  • You did not make my dog very happy, but I will heed the warnings. Thankyou – Andrey Jun 14 at 23:41
  • Weird, that second link says to avoid tug with puppies in the first section, then "Tug-of-war can be used to help a puppy learn to play with toys rather than mouth or nip at people's hands" in the second. – Steve Bennett Jun 15 at 0:54
  • @SteveBennett I think it is trying to emphasize playing it correctly, but not to play it incorrectly as there could be health issues. – Nai45 Jun 15 at 1:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.