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Ropes and tug toys are designed to be played with a partner or individually

These toys have come a long way from a simple knotted rope.

The ropes today may be fashioned into loops or figure 8's. Some may come incorporated with rubber or plastic parts that serve as handles. A popular configuration with many toy companies is threading a rope through a tennis ball. And yes, if you're just interested in a knotted rope they still exist.


knotted rope toys

An assortment of knotted rope toys for dogs

Are there health benefits to playing with ropes and tugs?

Actually, yes!

If you are actively pulling in a game of tug with your dog, you are both burning calories. Estimates range from about 2 to 6 calories per minute depending on your size, the dog's size and how strenuously you are pulling.

Can my dog get injured playing tug?

Yes. Play style and age are both important factors.

When playing tug with your dog pay attention to their style of pulling. Some dogs use their body to pull straight back. This action keeps their spine aligned and directs all the force to their feet. Your dog is not likely to injure themselves using this technique. However, if your dog's strategy is to intensely shake back and forth, they're more likely to injure their neck as they whip against a rope anchored at the other end.


puppies and rope toys

Are rope toys recommended for puppies

Strenuous tug may not be an ideal game for puppies. Until they have replaced their puppy teeth with their adult teeth, a fierce game of tug could prematurely pull a lot of teeth. Of course, sometimes the rope may be good for something else.

The knotted rope has withstood the test of time.

Every toy basket should include a knotted rope. Most retailers and online stores carry knotted ropes in assorted lengths. For a different brand, same style 2 knot rope, check out the Booda 2-Knot Rope Bones. These ropes come in a variety of sizes in uncolored or multicolored braided cotton. If you are looking for an extra large rope, Booda carries a plain white and multicolored 2-Knot Rope Bone Colossal for the large dogs. The simple knotted ropes by Ethical Pet, include the Twister and the Knot-ical lines that are made of braided polypropylene. The Triple Tex Ropes by PetSport are a weave of three different ropes, cotton, natural jute and jersey and come in several knot configurations.

If you know someone with a horse, check to see if they have any old halter ropes they are getting rid of. These are usually 10 foot lengths of either braided cotton or polypropylene and make perfect tug ropes for dogs. They also love the horse scent that is a permanent part of the rope. Try cutting it into 2 to 3 foot lengths with 2 or 3 knots.

Why keep a knotted rope handy for your dog in the toy basket? It's a toy they can present to you when they want to play or just chew on their own.

Ropes are a good option to have on hand as many dogs enjoy chewing on rope and this has been shown to help floss their gums. For dental hygiene, the 2-Knot and 3-Knot Fresh N Floss by Booda takes rope play to the next level. Petsport also offers a knotted cotton rope that is spearmint flavored, the Flossy Bone Rope designed to floss and freshen the breath while chewing.

If you have more than one dog, they will often take up the game of tug among themselves. This has the benefit of providing a source of excercise as well as reinforcing social play skills they learned as a puppy.


Two dogs enjoying a game of tug with a rope


The rope has morphed into an elaborate pull toy.

Today's new brand of tug toy is a blend of rope and either a plastic or rubber piece the rope passes through. For example, Petmate carries a number of looped ropes that incorporate a hard rubber piece that has plenty of bumps and raised nubs to satisfy any dog's mouth as part of their Dogzilla collection. The Dogzilla Dino Links and the Rope 'N Ring Tug are particularly sturdy examples of some of their products. Ethical Pet also carries a number of rope toys, many have a loop or handle made of rope for you to hold at one end and a knot for your dog at the other end as in the Mega Twister Braided Rope Tug or the Crinkler Tug Toy.

These toys are designed for two participants. These are not chew toys, they are meant to be brought out specifically for play time. This is an ideal time to work on bonding and if your dog needs more socialization with other people, these make good ice breakers.


rope toys

An assortment of rope toys

A modern twist on the tennis ball fetch idea incorporates a tennis ball in the knotted rope. Variations on this theme are offered by most of the dog toy companies such as the Fling Thing by PetSport, the Tennis Tug by PetSafe, the Mega Twister Tug Ball by Ethical Pet and more. These toys offer the combined pleasure of fetch and tug. These toys may be the ideal starter toy for the dog that is less inclined to fetch but enjoys tug.

After playing tug for a few minutes toss the toy to the ground close to the dog, if your dog picks it up and returns to play some more you've made a step in the right direction. Each time you toss the toy increase the distance to the toy. If your dog continues to return with the toy remember this is a good teaching moment for the command come. With any luck your dog will learn to enjoy the game of fetch.

Experience suggests these elaborate tug toys should be put away when not in use and only brought out when its time to play. The reason is that if left unattended, they might become a chew toy and generally this leads to destruction of the toy and its intended design.

For this reason, keep a simple knotted rope in the toy basket for the purpose of chewing. As mentioned, chewing on braided rope helps floss their teeth and most dogs don't seem to swallow the shreds of rope as they take it apart over time. However, if your dog is one to swallow some or all the threads then leaving a rope in the toy basket for them is not advised. There are accounts by dog owners relating the serious consequences of swallowing large amounts of string. Keep an eye on the rope, eventually you will want to replace it with a fresh one.

These tug toys are ideal for the self starter.

At first you might consider this a contradiction. Surely tug requires two participants. Not any longer.

The Tuggo WaterWeighted Ball by Tuggo Dog Toy is an indestructable ball on a rope. What makes this toy different from the rest is that you can add weight to the ball by either filling it with sand or water. There is a small ball and a large ball, both can be filled with a variable quantity of sand or water that creates the appropriate resistance. Now when your dog is running around with a toy on a rope it will take a little more effort.