The best tug toys for dogs [2020]


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons)

There's no denying it, most dogs love a good game of tug of war. Playing a game of tug with your canine companion is a great way to burn off energy and strengthen that special bond (not to mention work on your biceps!). So what is the best way to play tug of war with your pooch? And what are the best tug toys to play it with?

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Why do dogs love playing tug of war anyway?

If you watch two dogs playing for long enough, chances are you'll see a game of tug of war start up if there is a suitable toy handy. Although it might look and sound a little rough, a balanced game of tug of war can be a positive social interaction between two dogs where they are 'sharing' a toy. If you look closely, you may see that a larger, more powerful dog moderates their pulling to suit their opponent. The larger dog has likely learned that if he or she pulls too hard they will very quickly 'win', taking all the fun out of the game! In and of itself tug of war can be a very enjoyable game for most dogs, whether played against a human or canine opponent.

Play by the rules

Traditionally, in line with 'dominance' and 'pack' dog training theories, many people have been discouraged from playing tug of war with their dogs for fear of promoting aggressive behaviour. Played appropriately however, a game of tug of war can be a safe, enjoyable and positive interaction with your pooch.

In order to keep things under control, it is best to teach your dog the 'leave it' command before beginning to play tug of war. This means that you can easily regain control of the situation should it get out of hand. (Make sure you reward your dog like crazy for obeying and dropping the toy!)

If your dog is playing tug with another dog and it is clear that things are heating up a little too much (a little growling is normal but snapping and snarling isn't!), it is best to call your dog away and finish the play session to avoid any unpleasant altercations. Tug of war should be avoided in dogs with a tendency towards resource guarding or agression towards humans, as well as dogs with dental, neck or spinal problems to avoid injury. Never physically intervene between two dogs who are fighting.

Choosing a tug toy

When choosing a tug toy look for a toy that is durable and an appropriate size for your dog. Needless to say tug toys need to be durable and easy for you and your dog to grab hold of!

Tug toys compared

Product Name Customer Rating* Main Materials Price* The Details

Mammoth Tyrebiter Ball with Rope

5.0 Rope & Rubber $32.95 The sturdy rubber ball on this toy makes an excellent handle for your dog's teeth while you pull on the knotted rope end.

Seriously Strong Figure 8 Rope Toy

5.0 Rope $6.99 The loops of this figure 8 rope toy make it an ideal choice for either human on dog or dog on dog games of tug of war.

Vitapet Energy Burner Soccerball with Rope

5.0 Rope & Rubber $6.34 Great for active ball fanatic dogs, this mini soccer ball with rope doubles as both a tug and fetch toy.

KONG Puppy Goodie Bone with Rope

4.4 Rope & Rubber $9.66 Perfect for puppies and very small dogs, the Goodie Bone is made from softer rubber to suit delicate teeth and jaws.

KONG Wubba Classic

4.1 Reinforced Nylon $13.83-$24.99 An essential for any dog's toy box, the Wubba features enticing tails perfect for flapping, shaking and tug of war as well as an attention grabbing squeaker.

KONG Tug Toy

3.9 Rubber $17.58 If your pooch likes to unravel rope toys then this durable rubber tug toy is the solution! Just make sure you save it for tug of war time, this one's not designed to be chewed.

Yours Droolly Chewers Cloth Rope

3.5 Rope $13.02 This 90cm long colourful knotted rope toy is the original tug toy and a must have for any dog toy collection.

*Prices and ratings are correct as of 14 September 2018.

Further Reading

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Teach your puppy to walk on a lead

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