Should You Let A Dog Win Tug Of War?

Playing tug of war with your dog is not just a fun activity, but it also has several benefits for both you and your pet. However, a common question many dog owners have is whether they should let their dogs win at tug of war. This article explores the pros and cons of letting your dog win this popular game.

Tug of war is a game where you and your dog pull on opposite ends of a toy. It’s a natural activity for dogs, mirroring the way wild dogs play and interact. The game can be an excellent outlet for your dog’s energy and a fun way to strengthen your bond.

The Benefits of Winning

Allowing your dog to win at tug of war can have several benefits. Firstly, it boosts their confidence. Dogs feel a sense of achievement when they win, which can be especially beneficial for timid dogs. Winning also keeps the game exciting for your dog, maintaining their interest and enthusiasm.

Building Trust and Bond

When you let your dog win, it helps to build trust. Your dog understands that you are a fun and fair playmate, which strengthens your bond. This trust is crucial for your relationship and can make other aspects of training easier.

Teaching Control

Letting your dog win can be an opportunity to teach them control and good behavior. You can use commands like “drop it” or “leave it” after they win, teaching them to release the toy on command. This way, the game becomes a training session, reinforcing good behavior.

Avoiding Aggression

Some people worry that letting a dog win might encourage aggressive behavior. However, if played correctly, tug-of-war can help prevent aggression. The key is to set rules and boundaries, like stopping the game if it gets too rough or if your dog starts to growl aggressively.

When to Let Them Win

It’s not necessary to let your dog win every time. The idea is to balance the game. Sometimes you win, sometimes they win. This balance keeps the game fun and engaging for your dog, without causing frustration or boredom.

The Importance of Rules

Regardless of who wins, it’s important to have rules during play. Teach your dog to release the toy on command and to play gently. This ensures that the game is safe and enjoyable for both of you.

Signs of Overexcitement

Watch for signs that your dog is getting too excited or aggressive. If they start to growl menacingly, snap, or become too rough, it’s time to stop the game. These behaviors are not suitable for play and should be addressed with proper training.


In conclusion, letting your dog win at tug of war can be beneficial. It enhances their confidence, strengthens their bond, and can be used as a training tool. The key is to play the game with rules and to balance winning and losing. By doing so, you can enjoy this fun activity safely and positively with your furry friend. Remember, the goal of playing with your dog is to have fun and bond, so keep the game light-hearted and enjoyable for both of you.