So, you’re spending some quality time at home with the dog(s) and let’s face it – they’re driving you nuts. The Two Toy Game is an easy way to teach your puppy or dog to play a nice, interactive game of tug. The game is particularly good for working on your “Out” or “Drop” cue (when you verbally ask your dog to relinquish the toy). Here’s how you play:
You’ll need two identical toys that are long enough for your dog to grab without including fingers, but not with so much movement (for example, a toy with lots of floppy parts) that your dog will simply choose to self-entertain when you release the toy.
1) Stick one toy (let’s call it toy #2) in your back pocket and start a game of tug with the other toy (toy #1).
2) Move your feet and cover some ground while you tug for added interest and so it’s just part of the game.
3) Release the toy you’re currently tugging (toy #1).
4) Grab the second toy (toy #2) from your back pocket and slap it on the ground while moving away, wiggling the toy.
5) Your dog should give up his (now very boring) toy (toy #1) and grab the new toy (toy #2) you’re brandishing.
6) Tug and move your way over to the discarded toy, repeat steps 3 – 6.
7) Repeat several times but be sure to end on a high note, while your dog is still feeling like it’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened to him.
(This assumes you have a marker cue so if you don’t, click here for our handout on markers and cues.)
The next time you play the game, your dog or puppy should know the drill. Let’s add some verbal cues now.
As your dog releases the first toy (when you drop it and activate the second toy), give your marker cue (Clicker or Yes or Yup or Yip or whatever you use). This tells the dog that opening his mouth is a good behavior and the subsequent game of tug reinforces/rewards his open mouth. Needless to say, your timing needs to be quite excellent, with the “Yes” coming the instant he opens his mouth.
Got that? But wait, there’s more!
If it’s a sure thing that your dog will release the first toy when you activate the second, give the verbal cue “Out” immediately before you activate the second toy. And, when he opens his mouth to release the first toy, still remember to “Mark” this behavior with the “Yes” (or whatever cue you use).
Now play several hundred times while you wait for our next fun video!