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Why Do Dogs Like Tug of War?

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Why Do Dogs Like Tug of War?

When you get a new puppy, start exploring and playing with them in your free time. While there are many great games to play with your dog, your pup may approach you with a toy and initiate a game of his own without any guidance from you: tug of war.

In fact, tug of war is one of the most natural games you can play with your dog. But why do dogs love tug of war so much? Just play!

Let’s break down the exact truth about this issue and more below.

The behavioral reasons behind tug-of-war and its benefits:

1. It turns out that tug of war has a lot of behavioral connections to dogs and their instincts.

First, tug of war is just another fun way for puppies to engage in rough but safe play. Play is very important for puppies and all other young mammals. Games can teach us many things, including:

Bite inhibition or how to control bite strength

How to communicate with other animals or people

How to read the body language of other puppy/pet parents

and more

Since tug of war is a physical way of expressing energy and playing with others, it's natural that puppies often stumble upon this game on their own. All they need is a good stick or tug-of-war toy and they'll get the hang of it in no time.


2. It’s collaborative

Second, tug-of-war is essentially a form of collaborative play. While puppies will play with themselves by throwing things in the air or chasing imaginary targets, they prefer to play with fellow puppies or pet parents.

By definition, tug-of-war requires another person because the other person must pull the other end of the stick or tug-of-war toy. Because of this, tug-of-war is both a social form and a regular form of play. So, playing with your puppy is a good thing because they get two benefits from it: they get to spend time with their loved ones, and they get to play and release some energy.

3.There’s no harm in it

Tug-of-war is also harmless to puppies or pet parents. Puppies will play tug of war in the wild because it's one of the best ways to play with siblings or parents without the risk of accidentally hurting each other.

After all, most of the bite power (or hand power, in your case) is focused on the stick or tug-of-war toy, not the other players.

4. It mimics natural behavior

Best of all, tug-of-war is popular among puppies because it mimics a natural behavior: tearing apart flesh or carcasses. In nature, wild dogs, wolves, and other canine-related species eat meat by tearing it from the bones of dead prey.

Tug-of-war simulates these movements by violently pulling on the shoulders, neck, and mouth. While most puppies won't try to actually eat a tug-of-war toy, it can still mimic the behavior and can serve as an outlet for your puppy's aggression.


5. It strengthens muscles and coordination

Finally, tug of war is great for building your puppy's muscles and coordination. Another great reason for puppies to play is to exercise and build muscle. Tug of war strengthens many of your dog's most important muscles for daily activities, self-defense, and play, including the legs, chest muscles, neck muscles, and mouth.

If you want your dog to be as healthy as possible, you need to make sure they get enough play time every day. Tug of war is a great recreational activity because it provides a lot of exercise (relative to other activities).

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