Your dog might enjoy chewing plush toys and love squeakers, but toss a rope in front of him and watch out! He'll probably start swinging his head, gnawing on it and having a good ol' doggy time. Lots of different types of ropes exist, from the bland to the accessorized. Add in a game of tug-of-war or two and you'll see why ropes are canine-approved.
When you think of a rope toy, you might think of a standard rope with a knot at both ends. You can usually find those types of ropes at retail and pet stores, and they're often the cheapest option. But other types of ropes exist that might engage your pup a whole lot more. If you and your pup are a fan of tug, you might want a rope with a handled end. If he enjoys chewing his toys, consider a rope with a rubber toy or bone affixed to the center or ends of the rope. Canines who love squeakers will go crazy for a rope and squeaker toy combo.
Ropes come in all sorts of sizes, but choosing one that's too small can cause your pup to accidentally choke while playing, especially if he loves tilting his head up while chewing on it. As a rule of thumb, he should never be able to even come close to fitting the entire rope in his mouth. If your big guy tends to destroy his toys with those sharp teeth, opt for a thicker rope that has at least three knots. Some dogs love chewing on the ends of ropes, leading to little pieces of string all over your floor. If that's the case with your canine, choose a rope with handled or rounded ends.
Spend enough time reading about playing tug with your pup and you'll inevitably come across information that suggests the game can cause or exacerbate aggression. Tug is absolutely fine as long as you make it known what's acceptable and unacceptable. Your big guy should never bite your hand, accidentally or not, and the game begins and ends when you say so. If he mistakenly gets your hand with his mouth, let out a high-pitched "ah." The sudden sound will make your pup concerned, and he should drop the rope. Immediately stand up, take the toy and either turn your back to him or walk into another room for about 30 seconds. To initiate a game of tug, grab the rope and say a unique keyword or phrase, such as "grab." To end a game, practice the drop command. When you say "drop," reward him with a treat the moment he releases the rope. He'll eventually get the hang of it.
Keep an eye on the quality of your pup's rope toy. Over time, even the strongest ropes will break down. If you notice the knots have come undone or your pup is shredding the material, it's time to retire the toy. If something attaches to the rope, such as a ball or bone, make sure your pup hasn't destroyed the attached toy or chew. Pieces of bone can break off over time and teeth have a way of eventually ruining rubber toys and plush squeakers. Avoid leaving your pup alone with the rope.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images