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For many dogs, tug-of-war is a love-at-first-bite kind of game. That’s definitely true of our Australian Cattle Dog mix rescue, Pepper. She will bring you just about any toy for a potential round of tug, even old plushies that are barely hanging on by a thread. However, playing tug-of-war with Pepper can be a workout. So I was thrilled to learn about the XiaZ tug toy, which a dog can play with on their own with just a little human supervision.
Is this toy really durable enough to stand up to solo play? And will it keep a dog busy enough? We review the XiaZ tug toy to find out.
How the XiaZ Tug Toy Works
The need to entertain high-energy pups has led to some creative solutions, including a new wave of high-tech dog toys for indoor play (check out Pepper’s Wickedbone Smart Bone review) along with the opposite: some decidedly low-tech but effective toy and game ideas that allow your dog to play independently. This led us to the world of self-playing dog tug-of-war toys like the XiaZ tug toy.
The concept is pretty simple: a long strap that wraps around a tree or structure is connected to a bungee cord, and a rope toy is connected to the end of the bungee. There’s no learning curve for your dog—just set it up and let them go!
The tug toy comes in two parts. The main strap has a large built-in carabiner and is what you will loop around your structure. Then there’s the strap with a bungee section and a rope toy on the end, which you connect to the loop via the carabiner. The bungee helps give the bright orange rope toy some extra movement when your dog pulls. There are multiple ways to configure it, depending on where you want it and how high it needs to be.
Got a chewer? You can simply replace the rope if it gets worn out, or retie the end of the main strap if it gets frayed (more on that below). It’s otherwise durable and weather-resistant—even after that little chew session, the strap is still holding strong, and we’ve so far left it outside rain or shine.
The XiaZ tug toy came in a handy carry bag—a fun bonus that means easy storage and transport.
Pepper’s Review of the XiaZ Tug Toy
Pepper knows a toy for her when she sees it, and this bright contraption had all the marks of fun times ahead. She’s a seasoned tugger, so she pretty instantly grabbed the knotted rope at the end of the long strap before I even had a chance to attach it to anything.
I attached the tug toy strap to a solid wood pergola. There are a couple of ways to adjust the length: you can use the buckle on the bungee strap itself, or you can simply wrap the strap around your chosen anchor as much or as little as you want. We started with a long bungee to see how things would play out. But our dedicated chewer decided she could maybe get that rope free by sawing it off at the ribbon with her teeth in between robust tug sessions.
So we shortened the strap so the tug toy was swinging instead, and Pepper couldn’t easily reach the bungee/rope connection. This gave it more movement, with Pepper stretching the bungee and letting it go, chasing it, catching it, and starting all over again.
It worked great—Pepper put her full 40-pound self into pulling on that rope. The bits where she had chewed into the strap of the tug-of-war toy held strong.
Later, we had her friend join her, an Old English Sheepdog. She immediately caught on to the game too.
Since then, we’ve had many play sessions with the XiaZ tug toy. In the beginning, I used to wrap the end of the toy up high to give Pepper a break between play sessions. It’s less necessary now that she’s gotten used to having it in the yard, but she often goes to it to play when she’s making her backyard rounds, and it’s almost always a hit with guest dogs to our backyard as well. She also loves a human getting in on the fun, “helping” to tug or swinging it around for her to catch and grab.
It’s durable and weather-resistant—we’ve so far left it outside, rain or shine. Eventually, months after this review was originally written, Pepper did pin the XiaZ tug toy enough to work on chewing the end of the yellow strap—but the beauty of it is that I could just retie the rope onto the strap. Since then, I’ve even added a rubberized Jolly ball (a Romp-and-Roll that had lost its original rope), to the rope end, which makes it harder for Pepper to grab and pin the rope itself.
Is This Dog Tug Toy Worth It?
Absolutely! This dog tug-of-war toy is a great evolution of a classic toy that lets dogs play independently and pet parents take a break from playing yet another round of tug themselves. (We love tug games, of course! But perhaps not quite as much as our dogs.)
Dogs of all kinds are very likely to want to give this tough, low-tech toy a whirl, particularly if they’re fond of rope toys and tug games in general. Note that as with most toys, you don’t want to leave your dog completely unsupervised when they’re playing—it’s a good idea to check that they’re having fun and not being destructive.
Who would love this:
- High- and medium-energy pups who love tug
- Dogs who like rope toys
- Pet parents who want to give their arms a break
Who would not:
- Destructive dogs
- Dogs who get easily frustrated—they may not like that there’s no payoff or end game
- Dogs who get over-aroused or obsessed with certain toys