Does your dog get overexcited during tug of war? This trainer explains how to handle it

Woman playing tug with dog outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

Tug of war is a fun activity for both human and canine, helping you to build a stronger bond and relationship with your pup and allowing them to let off some steam too. 

However, dogs can easily get a little overexcited when playing tug and enjoying some of the best dog toys – it’s understandable, after all, given the high-energy, physical nature of the game. But too much overexcitement could make the activity less fun for both of you, or even be dangerous if you have a bigger dog. 

Fortunately, certified behaviorist Flurina Stocker of Canine Sense has explained how to handle excitement during tug of war in a new Instagram post. 

Stocker shares a video of herself playing tug of war with Rottweiler Breeze. She writes, “Breeze is about to jump up – something I do not tolerate. My body language instantly tenses. I stop the game by correcting her with my body pressure and raising my right hand.”

She then brings Breeze back down to calmness, and does so with obedience exercises. “Once she is calm, I reward her for this by continuing the game,” she continues. 

With so much potential for overexcitement, should you play tug of war with your puppy? In short, yes. Even the youngest pup will get plenty of out this game – simply follow Stocker’s advice to keep them calm and grounded if it looks like your dog is getting a tad overexcited. 

There are plenty of benefits to tug of war. When engaging in a game of tug, you’ll be getting close to your dog and making lots of eye contact, strengthening your bond, while it’s also useful for teaching your pup about rules and boundaries! 

And, for those dogs who are liable to get overexcited anyway, at least with tug of war you can channel that excitement into something productive, rather than seeing a cushion or your favorite slippers getting chewed up. 

But if you or your pup gets bored of tug of war, or you want to shake things up a bit, there are plenty of other games that you could incorporate into your daily routine with your dog – these indoor games for dogs will keep your canine companion amused for hours.

Why not try some hide and seek, a game of tag, or keep your dog stimulated with a food puzzle? The opportunities are endless! 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.