Can Puppies Play Tug-Of-War With Older Dogs? [6 Pros | 4 Cons]

Can Puppies Play Tug-Of-War With Older Dogs

Puppies are known for their playful nature, and they love to engage in games with their littermates, mothers, and older dogs. While it may seem harmless for a puppy to play tug of war with an older dog, there are some important things to consider before allowing this activity.

One of the main cons of puppies playing tug of war with older dogs is the potential for aggression and damage to the puppy’s neckbones, teeth, and jaws.

However, playing tug of war can also provide mental and physical workouts, help puppies gain confidence, and teach them boundaries.

In our upcoming discussion, we’ll explore the reasons why you may want to allow your puppy to play tug of war with an older dog, the potential after-effects of this activity, and how to avoid your puppy playing tug of war with an older dog if necessary. Don’t miss out on this informative conversation that can help you keep your furry friend safe and happy during playtime.

Should you allow your puppy to play tug-of-war with older dogs?

Allowing your puppy to play tug-of-war with older dogs is something up to you. But it is not entirely a bad thing for dogs.

Usually, puppies always like to play with other dogs to improve their abilities, coordination, and strength control. It’s perfectly natural and good behavior in puppies up to the age of several months.

But there is a huge risk of puppies playing tug of war with older dogs. Because their neckbones, teeth, and jaws are not as strong as those of an adult canine, they can be damaged, resulting in lifelong disorders.

There are numerous advantages of well-managed tug games too, and scientific studies have confirmed that they do not foster aggressive or domineering behaviors.

Although it is a common misconception among people that they increase undesirable behaviors in dogs.

If you have confidence that your puppy is safe while playing tug of war with a particular adult dog, then the thing is riskless.

It is better not to allow your puppy to play tug of war with an older dog if you are not around. Keep in mind that a tug of war with an old dog can easily cause damage to puppies’ teeth and bones.

What are the advantages of playing tug of war for puppies?

Playing is a fantastic technique to establish trust and a bond between two parties. That is the same with two canines.

Tug of war is a fun activity to play since it engages different muscles and parts of the brain.

If you’re searching for a really fun activity to play for your puppy, try incorporating tug of war into his regular routine.

Let’s see what the advantages of playing tug of war are for puppies.

1. It will provide a terrific mental and physical workout for the dog.

Tug of war is both a physically and mentally interesting game for our puppies. As dogs need regular exercises from a very young age, tug play is a good stimulator.

Tug of war provides an outlet for your dog’s energy. As dogs can engage in tug of war indoors, that is another excellent chance. 

2. It is a fun activity for dogs.

Tug play can take some of the dogs’ stress out on one other, have some fun, and do so while playing courteously and positively.

This will be really joyful for a growing puppy, as they are so playful.

3. Tug can help dogs learn to manage their impulses, gain confidence, and improve their bonds.

We can build our puppy’s obedience and social skills by letting him play tug of war with other dogs. Tug can also boost your dog’s confidence and help him focus on you in distracting situations.

He will listen to you always if you train him from a younger age. And it is a great way to build up relationships among dogs, especially among younger ones.

4. Tug of war is a good way for a puppy’s biting and mouthing tendencies to be released.

After the time of permanent growth teeth by falling baby teeth, puppies have an intensified chewing phase.

This tug of war is an excellent way for puppies to bite and exercise their jaws by releasing mouthing tendencies. For teething puppies, this is a great chew toy.

Keep in remind that this is not good for teething puppies.

5. It teaches dogs about rules and boundaries.

The game tug of war itself has no discernible effect on the dogs’ aggression. When you set realistic boundaries to keep overly hostile conduct at bay, it teaches them valuable lessons.

So puppies won’t get hostile as well as the pup will learn to conform to the boundaries and the rules within something from the tug play.

Puppyhood, on the other hand, is an excellent period to teach the release command too.

6. For shy dogs, tug of war is a confidence builder.

Positive association is how dogs learn. Exposing a shy or fearful dog to what frightens them at a low level is the best way to help them acquire confidence.

So a tug of war is a better way for a shy dog to gain confidence. A tug of war with a familiar dog will surely enrich him. This will be valid for a puppy too.

So considering all those things, we can say that tug of war is a better start to a puppy.

But if he is ready to play with a grown, older dog, we have to be more careful and responsible for their play as the owner.

There is no big issue of puppies playing tug of war with familiar older dogs. But be careful, as it can lead to damage to the neckbones, teeth, and jaws of the puppy. 

Further, it should not be allowed to encourage aggression in both the puppy and the older dog, as it leads to many negative effects. 

When the tug of war is done correctly, and under the ideal circumstances, it does not foster dog hostility. Instead, it will provide a tool to help both dogs create a good relationship.

Suggested Reading: Why won’t your dogs play with each other?

What are the disadvantages of playing tug of war for puppies?

Tug-of-war is a fun activity that many dogs/puppies enjoy with several advantages, as mentioned above.

However, there’re a few instances in which puppies should not be allowed to play tug, especially with older dogs. Let’s see what will be the disadvantages of playing tug of war.

1. It can harm the developing jaw and baby teeth and neckbones of a young dog.

When our puppy is playing tug of war with an older dog, if the tug-of-war activity is overly forceful, the puppy is more prone to suffering injuries to its teeth, jaws, and neck.

Neckbones can be permanently damaged due to this.

Teeth can be pulled out by accident, and pups’ necks and jaws are vulnerable to harm while they are still growing.

2. Sometimes the elder dog can go out of control.

It is true that if the tug game gets out of hand, it can lead to an out-of-control elder dog.

On the other hand, playing tug of war with dogs that guard objects or show hostility may exacerbate the dog’s violent tendencies. So the play can be a problem in those cases.

3. Tug play could lead to injuries for the puppy.

If the opponent dog uses more energy than the puppy, the puppy could get injured. As pups’ teeth, mouths, and jaws are still growing and changing, tug-of-war should be limited.

Too much tugging can result in jaw or biting difficulties. As well, you should avoid playing the game if they are teething. Otherwise, their teeth might grow crooked!

4. It has the potential to promote aggressive behavior in puppies.

If the puppy was not guided to play the tug properly, it could lead to growing aggression.

Then, as he grows, the puppy will become an aggressive dog more than usual after becoming an adult.

If you’re aware of your puppy’s aggressive tendencies, it’s better not to allow him to play tug with other dogs/elder dogs because you don’t want to encourage them.

By the way, here is what to do if a puppy is scared of other dogs barking.

How do you get your puppy and adult dog to stop playing tug-of-war with each other?

If the puppy is too small or at his teething age, it is not good to play tug of war. If you already own an old dog and again you bring a puppy, then it is usually both interacting together.

However, we want to stop our puppy from playing tug of war with an older dog as it can lead to damage for the puppy without proper guidance.

Let’s see what measures we can take to stop your puppy and adult dog from playing tug-of-war with each other.

  • We can exercise or play with our pup until he gets content, then there is no more exercise or desire to play.
  • If we have a puppy and an older dog, we can take both for outside walks. It reduces the chance of them playing indoors.
  • We can give something to eat or chew to keep the pup amused, then it wouldn’t need to play most of the time.
  • Keeping tug toys away from dogs will distract them from playing tug of war.
  • We can direct dogs’ attention to something else, like walking or hiding and seeking, rather than playing tug of war.
  • Put the toy away where your dog won’t be able to access it. As long as two dogs get along on a regular basis, they can play tug of war with each other.

Things to be aware of.

I think now you are most aware of whether it is good to let your puppy play tug of war with an older dog. If it is okay, then at what time?

But there’re a few things to be aware of when dealing with this. Let’s have a look at those critical concerns.

  1. The dog who started the game tended to be more aggressive than the other party. So, it must be observed that tug of war playing dogs, especially if one is a puppy, must be observed.
  2. Avoid starting play with an already aggressive dog. Give more attention when puppies associate with guest dogs.
  3. Keep a separate toy for playing tug of war. This gives our dog the idea that we never play tug of war with everything they find.
  4. Practice some commands like “drop it! Leave it!” because it is a great opportunity for us to teach our puppy to obey commands.
  5. Limit tug of war sessions to 10-20 seconds. As the time extends, it leads to arousing aggression.
  6. Select ropes which are soft enough that our dog/puppy can grip them without their teeth shattering.


With the proper guidance, we can lead our puppies to play tug of war. But it is somewhat risky when the other party is an older dog. That will cause injuries to the puppy. If a familiar dog with proper training is the opponent, then it will be less risky. I have given you more than enough facts to consider whether you want to allow your puppy to play tug of war with an older dog or not. So you are much more aware of this matter with my article. Let’s meet again for another important issue like this!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *