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  • Writer's pictureDanny Nelis-Rouse

Playtime Perfect: Getting the Best from your Dog's Tug Toy

Updated: Jul 4

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So you’re the proud owner of an interactive tug toy. Now what?


Used the right way, a tug toy can improve your bond with your dog, supercharge their recall, build up stamina and, perhaps most importantly, provide loads of fun.

dog playing tug-of-war with a fur chaser tug toy

 Photo credit: Image by Rowan from Pooch & Pineapple

To help you open up a world of rewarding play opportunities for you and your dog, Danny Nelis-Rouse, Co-Founder of UK family-run dog toy brand Tug-e-Nuff, has shared his top tips for getting the absolutely best value from your tug toy.

dog playing

How to Turbocharge Training with Tug Toys

1. Tug Toys : Only use for Training

Tug toys are all-stars for interactive play, but leaving them with your dog unsupervised can shorten their lifespan. They're not designed to be chew toys.

Man and dog playing with a tug toy in the garden

Here's the secret: reserve the tug toy for training sessions! This keeps it special in your dog's eyes.

When it's playtime, the tug toy becomes a powerful motivatormaking training sessions more fun and effective for both of you.

2. Set Your Pup Up for Tug Toy Success

If your dog doesn’t take to playing tug-of-war straight away, don’t worry. It’s completely normal for some dogs to need some gentle encouragement. With a little patience they'll unlock all the fun and benefits that playing tug brings.

dog loving a tug toy

To help your dog become a tugging master, keep playtime free of distractions. This lets them focus on the fun of the toy.

Start with quick, regular play sessions. Just like us, dogs learn best in bite-sized chunks!

Show tons of excitement during tug time! Your enthusiasm is contagious, and it'll get your dog pumped to play.

3. Get Moving

To really spark your dog’s interest in their tug toy, introduce some movement to tap into their natural chase drive.

Tug-E-Nuff range of tug toys

Channel your inner prey!  To really pique your dog's interest, move the tug toy like a small animal a dog would chase: quick, erratic changes of speed with sudden stops and starts.

Long-handled Chaser toys like the Sheepskin Bungee shown here, are easy to trail across the floor or through the air. Another big plus is they offer endless playtime without the need for constant bending – a win-win for both you and your dog!

4. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Training and playtime are all about finding what makes your dog tick. 

While tug toys are fantastic for many pups, they might not be every dog's cup of tea. Don't worry, there are tons of other ways to bond and have fun! The key is to experiment and discover what truly excites and motivates your four-legged friend.

Tug-E-Nuff interactive dog toy - The Clam

Photo credit: Image by Rowan from Pooch & Pineapple

As you play together, you'll become a pro at reading your dog's signals. Maybe they go wild for a fluffy sheepskin toy or get super focused when yummy treats are involved like the innovative treat dispensing Clam pictured above. 

The key is to pay attention to what gets them most excited, and then build on that! This way, playtime becomes even more fun and rewarding for both of you.

5. Tug Toys : Keep it Clean

Finally, don’t forget to keep your tug toy fresh and clean by regularly rinsing it in a sink of cold water and letting it dry naturally.

Or, if you really need to, you can put it in the washing machine on a cool cycle, unless they have a squeaker.

Man and large dog playing with a long-handled tug toy

Photo credit: Image by Rowan from Pooch & Pineapple

dog playing

If you're interested in unleashing the fun and enjoy some quality playtime with your dog, taking a look at Smart Bark's picks of the best dog tug toys on the UK market for 2024 - The Ultimate Guide to Dog Tug Toys for 2024

To help you find the perfect match for your four-legged friend, we put a variety of tug toys through their paces. From classic to innovative designs, we tested them all.


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