dogs play tug as a way to strengthen bonds. It’s a fun game that can be played between two dogs. Play is a great way to build trust between two parties, and tug of war is a great game to play that uses different muscles and parts of the brain from chase or wrestling.
We, humans, have bypassed hundreds of years of evolution and turned scary wolves into the cuddly creatures we now know as dogs. No amount of selective breeding has been able to erase all of our dogs’ wild animal instincts. Even some of what we consider play is really just primal behavior finding a way to shine through.
Sometimes, the adorable games our dogs love to play have obvious ties back to their undomesticated past. Dogs love to chase us when we run, which makes sense; in the wild, they would have to chase their prey. Dogs also love to chew apart squeaky toys. They would have to devour any small (probably squeaky) animals they caught for dinner.
But what about a tug of war? Most dogs love it, but why? Let’s dig in.
Why do dogs play tug of war with each other?
Put two dogs on their own with a long slim rope or chewing game and a war-tightening game you’ll follow. Tug of war plays several things for dogs. First, it’s a great way for them to get to know each other, yes, to some extent, to talk about where they are in the package. This is why you will sometimes notice that dogs get very competitive when playing together – even if the competition remains friendly and never heads towards the terrifying “aggressive” area. They brag among friends, and generally want to win and show what they can do.
Playing tug of war is also a way for dogs to build trust with each other. It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s a way of sharing and playing in a cooperative way.
The reasons why dogs love playing with their owners are similar, in many ways, to the reasons they love playing with other dogs. It is a great way to build trust and connection. While experts are divided on the issue of letting your dog win during the game, some think it is a great way to boost confidence with your dog and build their confidence.
Playing tugs with humans has another great benefit for dogs: playing sports. Especially for dogs that live in apartments or who cannot regularly reach a large yard to roam in, clouds can be a great way to burn tons of pent-up energy in a small space.
Where does the war-pulling behavior come from?
So, what is the primal itch that the tug of war scratches for dogs? There are a few possibilities. First, as anyone who has spent a lot of time playing tug-of-war with a dog knows, it highlights their desire to wiggle a toy almost violently from side to side. In the real world, this simulates the way a wild dog shakes (and kills) its prey.
Another theory says that in the old day’s wild dogs were hunting small animals that had hidden in burrows. Extracting them from those hidden sites requires some of the same skills a dog does with a tug of war today.
Should you let your dog win at tug of war?
It’s OK to let your dog win while playing tug of war. In fact, it’s a great idea. Winning builds its confidence and rewards the animal. However, if the dog misbehaves during the game, you should be the one who ends up with the toy.