11 February 2011

Let the fur fly!

If you have more than one dog and they are anything like my two, give them a furry toy and between them it will be ripped apart and de-stuffed within seconds.  Personally I've never cared about the fluffy mess that this creates, but the fun-to-money ratio is way out of balance and there came a point last summer when I was no longer willing to spend my hard-earned cash for just a few, frenzied moments of doggy joy.  So I came up with this - the furry-ragger - which has proved to a be a huge hit with my two.

To make a furry-ragger, you will need:

A piece of fur fabric approximately 36" x 12".  Fur fabric is usually sold on a 72" wide roll, so of you buy approximately 3 feet/1 metre, you will have enough to make 6 raggers.  Cost-wise, this works out at a little over £1.00 each!

1. Placing the fabric furry-side down, fold one of the long sides over so that the edge lines up with the centre of the fabric ...

2. Do the same with the other long side, so that both edges meet and run down the centre of the fabric ...

3. Fold one folded side on top of the other ...

4. Tie a knot in the middle ...

5. ... and then a knot either side of the centre knot ...

6. ... and if you can manage it, tie another knot at either end.  And that's it - it really is that simple!

All that's left to do is to find some willing volunteers ...

... and the game is on!

It's surprising just how long one of these lasts, even with two big dogs ragging one another about.  Little pieces get ripped off, but because fur fabric is stretchy, the knots become tighter the more the ragger is pulled, and the way in which the fabric has been folded into four layers makes it really strong and resilient to being torn apart.  The furry-ragger in the video below is actually the same one in the photo above, five months on ...

Please don't worry that through playing with the furry-ragger your dogs will develop a sudden interest in ripping up other furry items - as you can see in the picture above the video, my sheepskin hearth rug, the fleece dog blanket on the sofa and the furry sofa cover underneath remain totally untouched by teeth.  The same can be said about small furry animals - playing with the furry-ragger will not encourage the hunting or killing of live prey, it merely provides an acceptable and rewarding outlet for the normal, natural, instinctive prey-drive behaviours of tugging, ripping and shredding.

Any tuggy game is a great energy burner too, and if you are one of the players it can be a highly rewarding way to reinforce your dog's bite inhibition, obedience and impulse control.  Although for a handful of susceptible dogs, playing tuggy games may increase competitive arousal, playing tuggy games does not increase aggression or dominance. 

The San Francisco SPCA Behaviour and Training department have a great article on how to play tug-of-war with your dog and get the best out of the game  ... http://www.urbandawgs.com/articles/tug.pdf ... add to this a furry-ragger and even the most reluctant tugger will find the game hard to resist!


  1. perfect! I am definately gonna get a bit more creative with my dog toys, Lincoln does like to pinch all my socks and before I know it there is a tug of war going on behind me with a very expensive walking sock!

  2. Thanks for your comment Lincoln, if he likes chase games too, you could also make a 'flirt pole' with a furry ragger. A 'flirt pole' is a length of flexible pole (a garden cane is ideal) with a length of strong cord tied to one end (drill through the cane to attach it) and the ragger tied to the other end of the cord. Holding the pole end, swing it about like a wand so that the cord/ragger move around quickly, and let him chase after the ragger - you can whip it away just as he's about to grab hold to sustain the chase, but do let him catch it occasionally and have a tuggy game with him so that it keeps him wanting more. A longer cord will give a wider chasing area. Great fun!

  3. What a great idea!!! Love it our Ridgebacks tend to be a little on the destructive side and so this sounds perfect - will definitely give it a go. Thanks


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