The opinion that playing ball and throwing sticks is fun for the dogs and a good workload, is a persistent one. Many people want to have fun with their dogs, but is that really the case? Is playing ball with dog healthy? What should you look out for and what alternatives are there?
Hunting, killing – Hunting segments
The typical picture on dog meadows: flying balls and chasing dogs. But especially for hunting ambitious animals, this can have unpleasant consequences.
Hunting in nature, the dog usually picks up a track and often follows this track for days. If the prey is sighted, it freezes, fixes the prey and creeps up. Then the rush follows, grab and shake to death. As a result, they spend hours disassembling and eating the captured animal.
If you throw your four-legged friend now several times something to run after, it imitates rushing and killing with it. The nose work beforehand and the chew afterwards stays out.
Hormones while playing ball with dog
The running after moving things is self-rewarding, because the “body’s own opiates” cause a strong feeling of happiness. During this time, the body releases dopamine and adrenaline. The stress hormone cortisol is also included. Because these hormones cannot be broken down so quickly (because chewing and the necessary rest are missing), the body is in a permanent state of stress.
The unnaturally frequent successive release of hormones can lead to heart and adrenal diseases in the long run. Abrupt stopping also damages the joints.
Tennis balls are often taken for throwing. Not only do these balls contain toxic dyes, they also damage the teeth due to abrasion. The popular stick can also become a hazard if your darling puts his stick in his mouth in the heat of battle or is hit by a heavy branch.
Smaller objects can be swallowed. Be careful not to play with anything that might get swallowed or get stuck in his throat.
The “addicted dog” is no longer able to react to his environment, you or other dogs. The hormone cocktail makes him permanently nervous, stressed and fixated on the litter object. Species-appropriate activities, such as sniffing, meeting other dogs and playing quietly are not enough.
If your dog tries to defend his ball, it can quickly come to arguments with other dogs. There is also the danger that he himself, in this high state of excitement, knocks over playing children or injures them when stealing the ball.
The dog does not manage to calm down due to the stress hormones. Sleep is very important for the animals.
Like drug addicts, the dogs also have to learn to get along without the kick, because they are under power all the time. Action games (throwing, pulling, wild running, cheering) are now taboo. The keyword is REST und ALTERNATIVES. Your darling has to discover everything that’s great except the ball. You show him the best other possibilities and look for which he is enthusiastic.
Alternatives to playing ball with dog
- Search games, through nose work your favourite will quickly get tired
- Chewing, helps to break down stress hormones
- Get to know new walking paths
- Make your walk interesting, build in exercises (walk over tree trunks, hide treats, …)
- Meet dog lovers
- Concentration and dexterity exercises
- Hide and retrieve objects
- Impulse control, e.g. let your dog sit, put a treat or toy slowly in front of him and say “stay”. Only on your “Go” he may have it. Little by little you can start throwing things easily, so he learns to control himself. If your treasure has a hard time, it’s best to train with a trainer.
Your dog should see you as a social partner and not as a throwing machine. The best way to do this is through joint activities, because these strengthen your bond.
Playing ball with your dog properly
It’s also important how you finish the game. Not every dog that is thrown the ball once is immediately dependent. Most of the time your favourite is frustrated when you suddenly stop the game. He then associates this stressful situation with the ball and after some time is alone stressed at the sight of the ball. After an active game, make sure to stop it (with a stop signal) before your dog is at 180 and maybe let him search a bit to get down again.
Ball games can also be used as a reward. It depends on the temperament of the dog whether and how throwing games can be rewarding. If your dog gets into it quickly and becomes frantic, it is better to choose a different form of reward. If your dog is more of the leisurely type or you want to bring movement into the training, a thrown ball can be a good option. It is important not to throw the object often in a row, but just once for confirmation.
Depending on the character of your dog, he can get into a frustrated and stressed mood faster or slower while playing ball. It is important, especially puppies, not to have fun with throwing games, but to occupy them calmly and species-appropriately. There are so many possibilities for activity and you will see that your dog gets tired and the bond to you is strengthened. So away with ball, stick and Co. and get creative with exercises.