Tug toy haul from the dog show.
Ruby lives to tug. She knows the word tug and she knows how to spell it, too. I've started chanting "OMG it's time for T-U-G" after supper. She knows where all her tug toys are kept, in the downstairs coat closet. Although it took some time to ensure that our tugging games did not result in finger loss due to over-enthusiasm, I have never subscribed to the myth that playing tug creates aggression. We use games of tug for indoor exercise, trick training, impulse control training and bonding. Tugging is a valuable reinforcer for Ruby since it is one of her most favorite things.
Last year at the big cluster dog show, I got her a tug toy at a vendor booth that was located next to the flyball demonstration area. That tug lasted almost a full year with use several times a week (rotated with other toys) and so my annual dog show visit this year included a mission to stock up on more.
I ended up buying three tugs from that same vendor: a tennis ball on a stretchy pull, a colorful braided fleece and a squeaky blue fur. I debated getting her one of the tugs made with real rabbit fur but settled on the synthetic instead. As I was standing in line to pay, I heard a din of barking and thought at first that some dogs were in a fight - then I realized it was just the flyball dogs' pure, unadulterated joy. Satisfied with my purchase, I went over to watch flyball for as long as my ears could stand.
I couldn't resist one more toy at a booth in the agility arena: the one that looks most like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is actually made of recycled rubber liners from milking machines! There was a time when my shopping sprees meant new shoes or trendy fashion accessories - now it's a bag full of dog toys that makes me happiest, knowing how much fun Ruby gets out of them.
So far we've tested out all four - Ruby took a while to show interest in the rubber one, but Boca likes it a lot. I think the fleece one is Ruby's favorite by far, and it would be so easy to make my own using a tutorial like this. Ruby is getting better at her release ("drop it") and I am incorporating more complex asks into our games, such as a string of cues or longer wait times. As we reserve tug toys for supervised play, I am fairly certain these new ones will keep us tugging and training through 2015.
Do you play tug with your dog?