What is it about playing tug-‘o’-war? The answer to, “Is it okay to let my dog pull on a rope for a bit?” is quickly answered with an exuberant, “Absolutely!” or a disappointed, “Never.”
I’ve always been on the fence about it. I’d rather stay neutral on a game that I haven’t actually seen do any harm, but also over-excites dogs in some instances so that they are “out of control” for their human. It’s actually an ideal exercise to train or test your “drop” command – that’s how I use it. My dog can pull and pull on a rope or toy and I’ll play with him for as long as he wants, but only if he drops immediately when I ask that of him.
Then I was reading one of Temple Grandin’s books and she mentioned that there was a study done on playing tug-‘o’-war with dogs. They took two groups of Golden Retrievers and played tug-‘o’-war with one group only (forgot what they did with group B – just had them sit around?). Group A, tug-‘o’-war group, was actually more obedient afterwards. Hmm… Not sure what to make of this, but it’s great food for thought!