retrievers are able to play tug.
Not to contest your stance on "tug of war", but I don't agree with your stance that generalizes that retrievers can play tug of war with little negative effect. Though I have no hard data to go by, I would think that doing so may be more problematic with dogs that had not been force fetch conditioned, the problems I see as the potential for reluctance to release birds "delivered" to hand, and for that of "hard mouth" type handling of birds. Again, far from scientific, but I still say why cause problems for that which is preventable. JMHO.
[QUOTE="Though I have no hard data to go by, I would think..."[/QUOTE]
I stand with Ken
I have done it both ways. In the distant past, I was more old-school. To me field dogs were meant to live in a kennel and dealt only with me, trainer, vet, etc. My current pup is 5 mos, live in the house, and spends a lot of time with wife and kids when I am not there. I had all of the same concerns you have, but our new pup is doing great in this arrangment, probably more well rounded than my other dogs were. My wife and kids play with and care for the pup as they would with any family pet, and I have not noticed any problems. The only "rule" I have is is they do not sit and/or steady the dog for a play retrieve. I think your relationship with the dog will be whatever you make of it in the time you spend with the dog training, hunting and bonding.
Good Luck. Enjoy the entire dog.
I have actual data as I've used tugging as a form of reinforcement and as a way to manipulate my dogs' state of drive during training, particularly with my youngest. There's not a problem with tugging per se. It depends on how you play the game. With my dogs, tugging has rules. The same rules would apply if I just wanted tug to be a fun game with the dog.
Some basic rules of tugging include: (1) the dog must release the tug toy immediately when requested to do so; (2) if I toss the tug, the dog must pick it up and return it to me immediately; and (3) I decide when the game starts and ends. The dog learns these rules through training. Tug as a game with rules is a skill that's taught incrementally. When my young dog was first learning the rules of the game as a little pup, she got lots of opportunities to practice releasing the toy when I asked her to. As soon as she released the tug toy, I immediately offered it to her again and told her to get it. Her earliest experience was that giving something up meant that she'd get it right back. Getting the toy back was great reinforcement for releasing it and shaped a prompt and reliable release. You can ask a dog to release a tug toy many times during a short game of tug. Repetition builds behavior! Over time, she learned that she didn't always get things back immediately, or ever. By that point, it was of no concern to her. She has never been sticky and her mouth habits are excellent. I think playing tug helped shape her into a dog that's not possessive of the retrieve object.
And as Ken mentioned, you don't tug with a bumper. Dogs know the difference between tug toys, bumpers, and birds.
I hope this was helpful in explaining how tug can be a good thing, if done properly.
maybe if done by, say a mini goldendoodle, not so much :cool: