Why the Tether Tug?
Halfway through March of this year, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my entire crew was overweight. It took me awhile, because, like any self-respecting dog owner, I refused to believe that I had caused the problem with overfeeding and under-exercising my pack.
Once I opened my eyes to the reality of the situation, I was all-in on getting them into the best shape I possibly could. I wanted them to be as healthy as I was capable of making them. In my naivete, I expected the process to be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, my most obese guy, Sully, is one of the laziest life forms on the planet. My creativity and commitment are regularly challenged by this dog. Even when I find something that he gets excited about doing, he tries his damnedest to expend as little energy as physically possible! It is maddening!
My first homemade contraption I set about making was a spring pole. It worked for a little while until Sully began to get big(he’s 86lbs at last count). As his size and strength increased he began to stretch springs that were rated for 100lbs+. These are expensive, so I had to figure out a new way for him to get his “heavy lifting” in without forcing us to take a second mortgage on the house.
Fortunately, fate smiled upon me one day about a month ago. I happened to see an advertisement for the Tether Tug® in my twitter timeline. The picture peaked my curiosity.
This thing, literally, looked like the holy grail for getting Mr. Lazypants Mcgee to engage in some real-deal workouts.
I had just started the blog so I reached out to Tether Tug to tell them about our quest for doggy fitness and to see if they would be willing to provide me with a Tether Tug to review. To my complete surprise, they agreed!
Room for Improvement
There are a few aspects of the Tether Tug that I think need to be improved, and upon consultation with the staff at Tether Tug, are currently in development. The only major concern that I have with the product is how to anchor it in the ground. As I mentioned earlier, Sully is a very strong dog. He was able to pull the tube completely out of the ground in under a minute! It didn’t help that Florida has notoriously soft and sandy soil, but a better form of anchor would be a nice addition. I ended up buying a bag of concrete and anchoring the metal tube in a solid block buried in the ground. That fixed our anchoring problem!
Another small issue is the decorative rubber a the bottom of the tug pole. It quickly gets shredded by the pulling, but it, literally, has no effect on the function of the Tug at all, so not a big deal in my book.
I have to admit, I was skeptical about how well the Tether Tug would hold up against my crew. When I first contacted Tether Tug, I asked for the “Uber” version, which is designed for the most hardcore of pullers. There are a few different levels of the tether tug, ranging from the indoor, tiny dog tug, to the Uber one that we were sent for our big dogs. Tether Tug also sent us an indoor version because I mentioned that we had a gaggle of puppies all under 7 weeks of age(8 pups to be exact). The indoor version is really neat. It anchors underneath a couch or other heavy object and provides an interactive toy for tiny breeds and puppies. The videos below show the Ninja Turtle puppies enjoying their tug. I love that we are able to provide them with some mental and physical stimulation that doesn’t necessitate one of us actually doing the interaction.
I think that the indoor Tether Tug would be an amazing addition to any household that has high-energy, small dogs. It can provide hours of exercise and fun without the usual mess and destruction of indoor activities.
The day after the Tether Tug’s arrived, a new foster named Cassius came to us. He is a boxer/bully breed mix, around 60-70lbs, and full of energy and spunk. As soon as he saw that tug, he was all about it. It became a task to even get him to stop playing with it when it was time for him to come in!
The Uber Tug
I love this thing. After Sully got to the point where he was destroying heavy duty springs in under 10 minutes, I was at a loss for how to get him the same type of tugging exercise. My interim effort at a remedy for that problem was to attach a section of old hose to his rope and let him pull it through my hands. This was a pretty good solution, except for the fact that my hands were quickly rubbed raw from the hose. Fast forward to the Uber tug. Once it is anchored in the ground, it forces/allows the dog to move laterally, as well as, medially. Rather than sitting in one spot and tugging on the rope, which is ineffective for a good workout, the toy moves the pup backward, forward, and side to side, while providing a serious and increasing amount of tension that depends entirely on how much force the dog is exerting. This is the perfect culmination of all the things I was looking for in a toy to replace the spring pole. If I’m being honest, it puts the spring pole to shame because it also forces a safer angle from which the dog has to pull, which ensures a much safer overall exercise than pulling from over their heads.
Another facet of the Tether Tug that I really like is the consistency with which is provides resistance. For dogs that are “thrashers”, it can sometimes be dangerous for their joints and neck to violently thrash without the toy providing some resistance(like a spring pole). The Tether Tug circumvents this problem because it provides resistance from the second the dog brings the rope away from the center pole.
While I’m on the subject of safety, I also want to mention that the Tether Tug alleviates the other big risk that comes with spring poles as well. I’ve heard some horror stories of springs snapping and seriously injuring the dog and/or person. This risk doesn’t exist with the Tether Tug as far as I can tell.
I couldn’t be more impressed with this product. Once we solved the anchoring issues it quickly became my favorite toy for getting in the “heavy lifting” workouts that, I think, are a critical component to a good fitness program for any dog. With options for any size or strength of dog and a high level of durability, I am of the opinion that this is a must-have for anyone looking for a safe, effective form of a high energy expending activity for their pups!