• Jo at FurryTails

Playing ball with your dog . . . Good or Bad ?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

I wish there was some more education out there for dog owners on the pros and cons of playing ball with their dog’s, particularly with the ball throwers and especially during hot weather.

I see so many people walking their dogs to the park with a ball thrower firmly tucked under their arm ready for take off the minute they arrive at the park.

Did you know that not only is playing ball and by that I mean ‘launching a tennis ball as far away from you as possible’ repeatedly for your dog to frantically chase, is bad on their joints, it can also damage their teeth as the ball gathers grit off the floor when it hits the floor and the felt on the outside of the ball then acts like sandpaper and can wear the dog’s teeth down over a long period of time.

So instead of wearing your dog out, which let’s face it that’s why most dog owners play ball with their dog’s, it can create a dog that becomes completely obsessed and hyper around the ball as it gives the dog such a huge adrenaline rush.

It’s been proven to take up to 72 hours and sometimes up to a week for the hormones that cause stress ‘good or bad’ to leave our bodies including our beloved dog’s!

So if you think about it, playing ball with your dog daily, because people do believe this is what their dog wants and to tire them out, can actually keep your dog in a high state of arousal and making it much harder for their dog to calm down even long after the walk has finished.

By all means you can still play ball with your dog’s but I would suggest rather than throwing the ball as far as you can, try rolling the ball along the ground and rather than a tennis ball maybe get a rubber ball.

Try asking your dog for a sit stay whilst you put the ball down further away then asking your dog to fetch the ball and make that the game.

There are many ways of tiring your dog out at home and on your walk. Letting your dog use their nose, exploring and just sniffing is one of the most rewarding things you could let your dog do.

You can play scent games with their dinner out on their walk, try scattering their food in longer grass (as long as there’s no other dog’s around)

It’s real team work when you work together to find the food and praising your dog as they’re finding it. This will tire your dog out by mentally stimulating them which is much better for your dog than charging around after a ball.

As you know I’m a huge fan of Canine Enrichment and love nothing more than seeing the excitement on their faces when you give them a new and exciting task which allows them to use their brain and nose to work it out.

Overall this makes towards having a calmer dog in general. By keeping your dog’s life calmer, It helps them to focus on you, helps with training, such as dog’s that pull on the lead, impulse control ie. dog’s that jump up a lot or find it hard to sit still for long, it can hugely help with reactive dogs, even dog’s suffering from separation anxiety......... the list goes on.

Talk to me about really enriching your dog’s life or have a look at my FurryTails Facebook page for great ways to mentally stimulate you dog in lots of fun ways 😁

Jo Woodward

FurryTails Dog Training

T: 07973 216148

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