One of the most AMAZING things that has happened with all the work we have done... my dogs play drive has SKYROCKETED. I think this is because some of the tips that I have got about reward placement have really helped and I have learned a lot about how to make some simple exercises so much more motivating and we are stopping every three or four tries with an exercise to play.
Cricket is a little tug-a-holic, Breeze who has never tugged will tug with the little rubber Frisbee/ball thing she has, and sometimes even with the squirrel that is every ones favorite tug. Lizzie is tugging at the drop of a hat unless she sees too high value food then she is just all about the food. All of this tugging has made all of our training more fun for all of us, the dogs just look so happy when we do our training lately.
How could there be a downside to all of that fun? Well, there has been a huge downside. My dogs are not that big, around 30-35 lbs. but when they really start tugging a lot my back and shoulders have really been hurting-doing three or four sessions of training a day with three dogs is a lot of sessions so a lot of tugging. My one finger where I have to grip Breezes toy is sprained and swollen about twice the normal size. Cricket is horrible at regripping (gripping the toy then letting go and moving up the toy and grabbing it again), and has bit me so many times I could not possibly count all the holes and bruises, my poor hands are all bloody, LOL!. I have really wanted to increase their play drive and so was unsure how to place more limits without decreasing their drive. I had no idea that tugging could take such a physical toll and it did make me think about what it might do to the dogs bodies. I do know tugging has to do some good for them because watching them and all the muscles they use, has to be good for them.
TUG MORE LEARN MORE-KAY LAWRENCE
Soooo, have to say I was really excited when I saw this DVD/book combo from Kay Lawrence. You can get it from her website or from clean run.
I felt like this was EXCELLENT. Very short and simple, but then it is not that expensive either.... I love how they show dogs tugging with other dogs so you can see how it should be handled-several times they go back and show how dogs tug with other dogs so that they are all safe and have fun. They go over how to protect your body and the dogs body. They go over what you should look for in a toy-and even where you can find the proper type of toy. They go over the rules to protect everyone and how to teach those to the dogs, as well as covering how to build motivation and how to use tugging in different games. I thought for a tugging nerd like myself it was TERRIFIC!
Once I found out what type of toys make good tuggers.....it turns out one toy that we have had for a long time and is our favorite, the favorite with all the dogs...that one fits all the requirements. The dogs love it but it is getting very torn up, I got it at an agility trial and there used to be a little tag with the info to reorder one, but that got chewed off a long time ago. I knew after watching that DVD and knowing that one toy does make tugging so much easier on me, and I am sure on the dogs, so I set out on a search to find some appropriate toys.
REQUIREMENTS THAT SHOULD MAKE FOR A GREAT TUG TOY:
*A handle on your tug toy
*There should be some give, or spring to it so that when the dog tugs it protects the dogs neck and your back and shoulders-bungees are perfect in my opinion
*a big enough bite area that is a clear area for the dog to bite so he does not get your hand
*length-you want it long enough that you can stand up and not be hurting your back, and for dogs that might be intimidated by you bending over them. If your dog is smaller you might need even more length. You might need a shorter length in a class situation where you need to keep the dog closer.
*you might want a food pouch type of item esp. for dogs just learning to tug
*a material that really stimulates a dog to bite and grab, like a furry thing, or something with legs on it, or for some dogs that really are just learning maybe rabbit skin
*washable, after lots of tugging the toy may get a lot of hard, old saliva on it and start to smell and not be as attractive to the dog, so good to have something you can wash. I did make a mistake with our favorite toy and wash it with fabric softener in the rinse, a smelly one and the dogs were pretty repulsed by that ;-), WHOOPS!
DOG DREAMS TOYS--seems a little like Christmas this afternoon!
I found a site I had seen before but I was a little intimidated by the thought of trying to figure out how to custom order a toy and get one ordered. Because these toys seemed to fill all the requirements I decided to try or place an order at Dog Dreams Toyshttp://web.mac.com/mtrebino/Site/Welcome.html
Margie the owner of Dog Dream Toys was FANTASTIC. When I had looked at this site before I had just seen the Magic Pockets.. I love the magic pockets but really could not afford to order three or four of those right now, so I went to the MORE FUN TOYS page and got the STICK TUG BUNGEE HANDLE TOY. That toy does NOT have a pocket for food, but is only $14, plus I paid extra for the squeeker, because you always need those. The toys came today, I LOVE them, they are the perfect size, the handle is the perfect length for tugging with my BC girls, and the material and the sewing seem really heavy duty, the material is lined and much heavier then I could find myself if I wanted to make one of these myself. I think these toys really look like they will last. I know our old favorite toy with the bungee handle still has the bungee handle faded but still just as strong as the day we got them.
I also got a CRAYON with a bungee handle. I think the Crayon was $8 for the toy plus $3 for the bungee handle. The crayon is soft of soft, softer then the bite sticks that are really easy to get and I wish my dogs liked more, but they have soft mouths. The Crayons are sort of a thinner diameter so Cricket had to take a few min until she felt comfortable gripping that.
My dogs also always want to grab onto the bungee part of the toy with our other toy so we got a ZIZI which is just the bungee handle material--that one is smaller then I would have imagined it, but a fantastic size. I am anxious to play with that and see how they like it. You even get to order the colors you want for the rings on those.
It is pretty cool you pick your material, and your type of handle and the color of handle, if you want squeekers and email Margie. From the descriptions on the web site it sounds like Margie is willing to customize a toy to anything you really want and she sounds willing to try new ideas. I had told Margie of my plight and injuries and she had the toys made and at my doorstep in just a couple of days.
CRICKET with the STICK TUG BUNGEE HANDLE TOY
first I tried to pose her with the three sticks....
THE CRAYON AND ZIZI-my camera is messing up the crayon is a bright teal with a purple handle, and I chose black and purple for the zizi.
MY DISASTROUS ATTEMPT AT GETTING A PICTURE OF ALL THREE OF MY DOGS WITH TOYS IN FRONT OF THEM, LIZZIE LOOKS LIKE I AM GOING TO BEAT HER AND BREEZE REFUSED TO SIT, ONLY CRICKET SEEMS TO WANT HER PICTURE TAKEN!