10 Fun Games for Kids and Dogs


Tug of War

The tricky part to playing tug of war is teaching your dog to drop the toy on command.
The tricky part to playing tug of war is teaching your dog to drop the toy on command.
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Sophie Lou -- Ivy Sue's older sister -- loves to play tug. It's her game of choice and she's darn good at it. Tennis ball in the mouth -- let's play tug. Rope toy -- c'mon dad, let's play. She loves to play with her Ivy Sue and her other sister, McBeal. In 10 years, Sophie has never lost a match. She crouches low like a linebacker, sticks her hind quarters in the air, and minimizes her center of gravity. She grabs the toy in her Labrador retriever jaws and shuts them as tight as a vice grip. She pulls with such force that she could rip your arm off if you don't let go.

For the record: This is not the correct way for your child to play tug of war with their dog. There are a couple of simple rules to follow when teaching your child to play tug, rules that my dog Sophie never learned. (OK, she wasn't taught.) First, the child should hold the toy with one hand at each end. Have them then tell the dog to sit. When the dog is sitting, have your child wave the toy in front of the animal's face and say "get it," or "take it." It's best if the dog grabs the toy from the middle. When the dog latches on, move the toy up, down and sideways [source: ASPCA].

Here's the tricky part -- getting your dog to drop the toy on command. In 10 years, Sophie never mastered this part of the game. She'd rather tug and keep on tugging. If I was stuck in a pool of oil like ol' Uncle Petrie, Sophie would pull me out like no one's business. It's not Sophie's fault, as our dog trainer has reminded me. It's my fault. But, I digress. The important part of the game is never shout or frighten your dog when trying to get them to drop the toy. Your child needs to say "give," "drop" or some other command. Give the dog a treat when it responds as it should. After a few times, the dog will get the hint and drop the toy [source: ASPCA].