How To Avoid Aggression During

Tug-of-War With Your Dog!


  Tug-of-War can be tons of fun for both you and your pet. It gives your dog a great way to exercise, vent frustration in a healthy way, and strengthens their relationship to the person playing with them IF it is handled in the proper manner. Some dogs have a hard time playing Tug-of-War without becoming overly protective of their toys.


  During sessions of Tug-of-War, it is not uncommon for a dog to begin growling playfully. Many owners take this as a sign of aggression, but it is important to know the difference between being playful during games, and being aggressive. If your dog is wagging its tail and jumping around, it is very likely that your dog is just playing.


   Aggression looks completely different, and if your dog begins to tug with what seems to be aggression, then your dog may not be playing, and it may be time to end the play session. Most dogs can handle Tug-of-War with ease; however, some dogs have a difficult time differentiating between playtime, and being protective of their possessions. Some signs of aggression are:

  • A stiff tail and/or body. Sometimes their tails will raise high above their bodies.
  • Eye contact without blinking. This is usually meant to intimidate.
  • Snarling/slobbering/vicious growling. Showing teeth by lifting the lips.
  • Raised hackles is huge sign that your dog is no longer playing, but is probably actually being over-protective.


  If your dog is presenting any of these signs while playing, or if you simply feel that your dog is no longer playing, but being aggressive/overprotective instead, it is time to stop the game immediately, and walk away. If your dog continues to show these signs of aggression, Tug-of-War may not be their game. If you are playing, and your dog is being aggressive, do NOT try to yell at/punish your dog. Your dog may feel threatened and reciprocate. If you feel at all threatened by your dog, then seek immediate, professional help from