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Thread: Tug of War As Reward

  1. #1
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    Default Tug of War As Reward

    This is a silly question, but if you use tug of war as a reward, how long do you do it for?

    I just started using it as a reward for Banjo obeying my 'leave' cue when she wants to chase our new foster kittens that arrived today. It seems to work better than praise or treats. But I'm just not sure how long I should do it for. I've seen her play tug of war with my daughter for half an hour without stopping.

    But it's actually really hurting my shoulder right now when she pulls with all her might!

    Are short 30 second games better anyway as she will be more motivated to come back for more? Or would she not find it worth her while after a while if she knows I'll stop that soon.

    As I said, silly question, I know.

  2. #2
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    No idea. Trial and error?
    I think it would depend on the dog.
    I wonder how long the ball rewards etc are given for drug sniffing dogs etc??

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
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    Oh and also, if you use tug of war as a reward for certain behaviour you want to enforce, do you then need to avoid playing it otherwise? Or is it ok to still do it just for fun as long as she does something for you first (ie. NILF)?

  4. #4
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    you can't play it just for fun, she will have to do something for it and you have to make sure that the tug of war toy is not always with her as she won't see it as that exciting if she can play with it any time. the length of the game should depend on how well she did whatever it is you asked her to do.
    so something ok would be 10 - 15 secs
    something really good up to a minute
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semihuman. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." - Edward Hoagland

  5. #5
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    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    The first time I did a full on tug training session with my dog, one of our tug sessions went for three solid pumping minutes. Oops. I was sore for a week, I dunno about her.

    Tugs with bungees in them help.

    Bottle Cruncher

    note that's two tug separate tug toys, a pink one and a spotty one - I prefer fake fleece to real sheep fleece because I don't want my dog to get the wrong idea about what sheep are for. She's probably smart enough to tell the difference but I don't want to find out the hard way - smells like tug - lets tug the running tug...

    So now I tug for a bit, maybe 15 seconds and ask for give and a geddit and tug some more... and do that again a few times so it's not one long continous tug.

    while she is learning the task - all the rewards are good enthusiastic ones, but when she knows the task - I focus on getting "average or better", less than that gets a pat and a collar grab or nothing. Collar grabs - should be practiced all the time and any time and paired with food reward often so seeing your hand go for the collar should be feel good to a dog not scary. So collar grab is a game all by itself.

    We've been practicing "perch work". I've wrapped a phone book in a towel and I'm working on getting her to put her paws on it. So far we have good front paws, some front paws with rotating back paws around (would be cool if she walks her back paws around to keep facing) and some back paws (good for "contacts") and some sit on it and some drop on it and quite a lot of swat it with the paw.

    So I give out 5 to 10 rewards for doing stuff with the perch - focussnig on shaping what I want at the time ie only rewarding steps towards that goal, and then we do some other stuff that she knows well like running in and out of the crate or hand touches by way of break, since at the moment, she's not likely to choose tug over promite on toast no matter how excited she is.

  7. #7
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    Great information

    I have never done tugs with my standard, because he is very strong and it hurt my neck.
    I guess, though it is a good reward.

    I am thinking of introducing it now. But I am still unsure. With my little mini, I would have to bend down and allow her to shake my arm around, with my shoulder, neck and head involved ..... That is really tricky for the back-neck-shoulder relationship (of the human )

    As a yoga teacher, I suggest to really stand on yr feet and NOT let the dog work us too hard. Otherwise it can become the proverbial "PAIN IN THE NECK".

    Susan Garrett (as seen on youtube) plays it for a few seconds.

    But we got to teach the dog/s to let.
    What word to go with "letting go"... maybe the "leave it"
    Cheers
    There are no paths, paths are made by walking
    www.rightnowyoga.blogspot.com
    2 Schnauzers, 1 mini girl 13 months, 1 standard boy 19 months.

  8. #8
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    I haven't got to that stage yet, Marley. I just let go of the toy and then she drops it immediately too.

    I kind of implemented this in a hurry yesterday as the new kittens were getting a bit stressed by the dog hovering over them non-stop - and to make matters worse my 6yo had a very noisy and active playdate and I had my own friend visiting, so our house was chaos. I could easily call the dog away from the kittens just by getting her attention and then giving her a treat for focusing on me. But then it dawned on me that the tug of war reward is much closer to what I am trying to get her to ignore: a game of chase. So I was hoping that it would be more effective to teach her to leave the kittens alone.

    Using tug of war as reward was once recommended to me by an RSPCA trainer to get my old dog to stop chasing wildlife. Unfortunately my old dog thought toys and games were just beneath her and it never worked.

    But yes, it is hard on the back, neck and arms. I hold it with 2 hands and try to keep the pressure on both shoulders equal. I might try those bungee ones.

  9. #9
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    I use ball throwing as a means of reward for one of my dogs. Works better than anything else for motivating him in the ring.

    If we are leading up to a show I won't 'play' fetch with him, he has to work on his free stacks etc to get the ball thrown for him, a couple of throws and stack and so it repeats.

    So I would think 15 seconds of a tug game would be sufficient unless he did something exceptional like looked but had no reaction to the kittens that's an improvement and deserves a jackpot.

  10. #10
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    I tried this outside today, but it doesn't seem to do anything for her when there's lots of distractions. So I might keep this one for use in the house for now.

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