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He seemed to get great amusement from it, anyway.

It sounds like you did, too. What a great story!

As I look back, it seems like I spent a lot of Sam's life watching him do something ridiculous. Strange, because he wasn't an undignified dog by any means.
He used to do the "lift and zoom" with the pumpkins my mom would put on the front stoop for decoration. We'd get there for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and he'd beeline for the Big Orange Ball. If it still had a "handle", he'd snarf the handle and carry or drag it all over the lawn, bouncing like a puppy. So proud of himself, the ditz. It got to the point where mom would get Sam a pumpkin of his own, partly because then he could be persuaded to leave her decor alone, and partly because he was such a stitch whilst stalking the wild squash.
You haven't lived until you've seen a 40 lb dog body-tackle a 15 lb pumpkin. And kill it deaddeadDEAD. Then disembowel it, snack on its tender entrails, and persuade his packmates to consume the evidence he didn't care for. It'd take him, Noah, and Ranger about an hour to make a hefty orange ptui completely disappear.
I think that you are correct that tug is a good play alternative...and I hate to sound like if you say black, I'll say white...BUT...you have to decide first whether you want to encourage tug-of-war and keep-away. behavior in your dog.[/nq]We have 4-5 yr bichon, Libby, who is a rescue from a puppy mill. One time not too long ago Dinah managed to induce Libby into about 5 minutes of tug-o-war - this we took as a sign that Libby is another small step from being a 'real' dog. I have tried several times to entice into doing just one tug-o-war pull without success. My daughter's fiancee's bichon has developed tug-o-war to a high art form. He will bring the tug object to me, plop it in my lap and as soon as I grab it so does he - then tugging, growls (under a wagging tail) ensu.

After a bit I say "Blitzer, Give" when he does he gets a reward - I toss the object across the room and he takes off like a rocket and brings it back for the repeat performance. This can go on and on and on for Blitzer never ties. His last reward is a 'good dog' delivered with a nice juicy treat. Blitzer doesn't just take a treat, he hoovers it. I am hoping that Blitzer's antic will rub off on Libby. Funny thing is Dinah is a normal, not-abused dog but she doesn't really get into the tug-o-war game too much.

Dogs are individuals just like humans, I guess.

John Ferman
Minneapolis, MN
You haven't lived until you've seen a 40 lb dog body-tackle a 15 lb pumpkin. And kill it deaddeadDEAD. Then ... didn't care for. It'd take him, Noah, and Ranger about an hour to make a hefty orange ptui completely disappear.

Aw, man, what a great image of Dog As Joy Incarnate.
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I think that you are correct that tug is a good play alternative...and I hate to sound like if you ... If you have a retriever you don't want to play tug, because you want them to always surrender objects easily.

I'm with you again, Janet.
Yes, it's quite possible for an experienced handler/trainer to use tug in positive ways (and on many dogs), and without creating problems.

But, IMO, the vast majority of dog owners/trainers should avoid it, particularly novice dog-owners of dominant-type breeds.

There are just soo many other ways to "play" or "exercise" a dog, and without there being any chance at all of creating unintended consequences.
And as you noted above, owners of retrievers who hope to compete one day at a high level should avoid tug like they avoid the plague.

Handsome Jack Morrison
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