Silas loves to play tug. We use it a lot for training, and it has really done some amazing things for him.
One of the important steps of using tug for training is being able to get the toy back on cue. While it’s a good idea all the time, it’s especially true if you’re using tug as a reward. If it takes you three minutes just to get the toy back, then you can’t get a lot done in your training session.
Silas has never been impressed with the idea of giving his toy back. We’ve reached something of a compromise. I cue “give,” and he loosens his jaws enough that I can wrangle the toy out.
And then yesterday happened.
Yesterday, I said “Give.” He spat his toy out into my hand and sat. I blinked in disbelief.
I cued him to “Take it!” and we played some more. Then I tried again. Same thing.
My husband came home from work. “Look at this!!! He spits out the toy!” “Sure. For you he’ll spit out the toy.” (That’s how it goes around here–Silas and I tend to play more structured games, so he listens better to my cues while we play. The down side of this is that he’s a lot less enthusiastic with me–I’m having to build back up some of his drive for our games.)
When it was my husband’s turn to play, he cued Silas to give the toy back. And Silas spat the toy out and sat down.
We were playing with Blue Hurley. As you can see in this picture, which I’m shamelessly reusing from last week, Blue Hurley is just a rubber stick:
(We also have Orange Hurley, which is a smaller version of the same toy. It lives in my park bag as an emergency toy.)
I suspect that the definitive shape and texture of Blue Hurley may have clarified the criteria for “your toy needs to be out of your mouth.” It’s also easy to hold a stick-like toy completely still against your leg, and thus “kill” the tug fun. Or, maybe it was a handy coincidence.
In any event, YAY!