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Old 02-27-2013, 01:30 PM
Emily's Avatar
Emily Emily is offline
Rollin' with my bitches
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Illinois
Posts: 2,115
Default Tugging style issue

Blossom, Blossom, Blossom...

We're working through a number of minor issues that I suspect originate from her past, where her drive wasn't exactly, uh, appreciated, I'm sure. Luckily it hasn't put a damper on her enthusiasm but she does have some inconvenient habits.

I feel confident in fixing all but one: She throws herself onto her back and death rolls like an alligator when we play tug. Which is funny, and would be fine, if she did it only once in a while. But it's pretty much default. She also groans (not growls) while she does it. I know some dogs are just vocal but I admit the combo of the death roll/dead weight and the moaning make think there's some conflict going on. She also gets quite chewy on the tug when this happens. Regardless of what it stems from, I'd like to get her to remain upright when we tug.

Fixes I've considered:

Drop the tug and walk away - This won't work because she'll just self-satisfy on the tug or eat it. We're working on having her return to me with the tug when I drop it. I leave a drag leash on her and use it to help bring her in if she doesn't respond to verbal encouragement, and mark and continue the game for returning. Right now, obviously, I only take 1-2 steps back.

Outing - I also can't really out her when this starts, because for one thing, she doesn't have a clean out yet, and for another, it's like impossible for me to lock up and kill the toy when she's upside down, pushing her feet into my legs and thrashing against the toy. I'm not exactly strong the in the upper body.

And obviously, I'm not going to just pull her onto her feet because that continues the game and she enjoys it. I'm just sort of concerned as to how to build correct tugging skills without causing more conflict, confusion, or killing drive.

Other relevant information is that I'm using a 12" long, stuffed French linen tug. Used to have two handles but now it's down to one, LOL. I still grip it on both sides. She will tug on anything though and her attitude seems to be the same no matter the material. I do think this tug is a little thick for her where her grip is at right now, and that maybe something easy for her to hold would prevent some of the moaning/dead weight routine. Maybe she's afraid of losing her grip? The problem is that she will also quickly destroy thinner things by grinding her molars into them while tugging. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. So if that's the case, I'll have to find something thinner but tough.

Any ideas? If it would help, I can try to get some video this weekend. You get a cookie if you read the whole thing.

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