Without a doubt, playing ball is one of the best activities of our best friends. At first, it is a harmless game, which allows them to exercise their body and senses, in addition to sharing good moments with their families. However, many handlers are concerned that their dogs appear to be addicted to the ball .
If you have lived or are in this situation, you are likely to ask yourself questions like ” Why is my dog obsessed with the ball? “, “Why is my dog not letting go of the ball?” or “how to treat a dog addicted to the ball?”.
In this article Expert Animal we will talk about the obsession with the ball in dogs, what are its possible causes and how you should act to treat this behavior problem. We will also offer you some tips to prevent your dog from becoming addicted to the ball, being able to enjoy this game safely.
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- Are there really dogs addicted to ball?
- Why is my dog obsessed with the ball?
- What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?
- How to prevent the obsession with the ball in dogs?
Are there really dogs addicted to ball?
Perhaps, talking about an obsessive or addicted dog can be very shocking because we understand the dangers and negative consequences of an addiction or obsession , which also have an impact on physical and mental health. However, it is not only real, but it is more common than we usually imagine. The ball, such a common and well-known toy, can easily trigger obsessive behavior that requires specialized treatment.
Almost all dogs are motivated to chase the ball , exercise during their walks, and then rest in the comfort of their home. In this “normal” equation, when the ball is a game and not an addiction, the dog gets excited, has fun, expends energy, gets tired and resumes a balanced behavior when he returns home, offering the possibility that his guardians that they continue with their routine and can dedicate themselves to other activities.
But an obsessed dog will permanently demand that his handler keep throwing the ball at him, seeming not to have satiated his need to expend energy, even after going for a walk and after exercising. We also tend to easily identify some symptoms such as hyperactivity , anxiety, and tachycardia, as well as unwanted behaviors, such as excessive barking and whining to catch the attention of their guardians.
In addition to damaging the health and well – being of the dog, these behavioral problems often seriously affect the routine of their relatives and living together at home. For this reason, the obsession with the ball should never be ignored or underestimated, requiring specific treatment guided by a professional trained in ethology or dog education.
Why is my dog obsessed with the ball?
To understand why some dogs are addicted to ball, we need to understand what this activity produces for them and why it can become an obsession. The game of chasing the ball awakens the hunting instinct of our furry. Logically, the dog does not chase the ball with the same purpose or motivation as a dog when he goes out hunting with his pack.
The latter must hunt to supply the basic need for food, undergoing a long and exhausting hunting day, while the dogs play with their guardians as another form of enrichment that allows them to expend energy, stimulate their body and mind. But although companion dogs do not need to go out to catch prey to feed, hunting is one of the instinctive behaviors in dogs and we cannot ignore or forget it.
When we throw the ball at a dog, we somehow artificially “recreate” the context of a hunt, giving it the ability to exercise its senses, instincts, and body power to then enjoy the success of reaching its prey (which, in this case, it is replaced by an object, that is, the ball).
However, when practicing this activity in artificial conditions, the dog does not need to walk for hours with a herd or expose himself to unfavorable environmental and climatic situations to reach his prey (which usually happens when animals go hunting in the wild) . Their effort is much less and satisfaction is achieved quickly and easily, so the dog may be motivated to repeat the chase for the ball several times .
However, the hunting instinct alone does not fully explain why some dogs become obsessed with the ball. Although it is true that the dog breeds historically trained for hunting, as well as their crosses, tend to feel great excitement when playing ball and can develop obsessive behavior in relation to it more easily.
As with almost all behavior problems, the obsession with the ball is usually related to the education, routine and lifestyle provided by the guardians of their dogs. On the one hand, it is common for people to reinforce the over-excitement of their dogs, whether at the time of playing ball, eating or going for a walk, and many times they do it unconsciously, that is, without having the intention to encourage or encourage their furry to become obsessive or hyperactive or anxious when doing any activity.
If when you perceive that your dog is overexcited before or during the game with the ball, you continue to throw this toy over and over, repetitively, you are reinforcing this behavior . That is, you will be communicating to your best friend that he can continue to become over-excited and behave hyperactively that, in this way, you will throw his ball at him again.
On the other hand, the lack of time and the rush that we usually have every day can lead us to neglect the physical and mental stimulation of our dogs. Basically, playing ball is a game that, in itself, does not pose an imminent danger to a dog. But if this dog does not have a routine of physical exercise and intelligence games that allow him to exercise his body and senses, a simple game like chasing the ball can become an obsession. Because this activity becomes the only way through which the dog can release accumulated tension , expend energy and work on his physical, cognitive and sensitive capacities.
Also, if we don’t spend enough time with our furry to give them affection, play and have fun, making the ball game the only opportunity to share good moments, we can also “push” them to resort to this activity whenever they want to get our attention .
What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?
As we have mentioned, the obsession with the ball should not be underestimated or ignored, since it represents a risk for the physical and mental health of the dog, in addition to harming the coexistence with its guardians and relatives. Therefore, when you perceive that your furry does not leave the ball and constantly demands your attention to throw it, resorting to excessive barking, crying and other unwanted behaviors, you must act with security and firmness to prevent symptoms from continuing to occur.
First of all, it will be essential to stop playing the ball , since by doing so you will be reinforcing your obsessive behavior in relation to this activity. Yes, we know that it can seem cruel to deprive your best friend of something that pleases him greatly. But remember that when the game becomes an obsession, its effects stop being positive and begin to threaten the balance of the dog’s body and mind. The obsession with the ball, far from being harmless, can saturate the dog physically and mentally, and can even lead to a severe weakening of its health condition.
For this reason, the best thing we can do for our best friends, in this scenario, is to stop feeding their obsession and look for a trained professional to help us in their treatment. Ideally, you should go to a veterinary veterinarian specialized in ethology or a dog educator , who will be able to help you and guide you on how to treat this behavior problem, based on guidelines established according to the needs of your furry.
During this treatment period, the duration of which can vary greatly according to each dog and the dedication of its handlers, it will be essential that you pay special attention to the physical activity and mental stimulation of your best friend. Your dog will need to find other alternative ways to expend energy, exercise, have fun, socialize with other dogs, express himself, work his senses, and prevent symptoms of stress and anxiety.
In addition to reinforcing your daily walks and introducing you to other physical exercises or canine sports , you will also need to offer him intelligence games and activities that stimulate his mind and allow him to develop his cognitive, emotional and sensitive abilities.
A good option may be to start your furry in searching , a very complete exercise that works your senses, especially your sense of smell, and your mind. You can also take the opportunity to share good moments with your best friend by proposing some of the homemade intelligence games that we teach you in Animal Expert.
In the event that you need to leave your dog alone at home for a few hours, you can turn to Kong , filling it with moist food or treats of his liking, to keep him entertained and prevent behavior problems, such as destructiveness and separation anxiety . Also, remember the importance of providing an enriched environment, with toys and other stimuli, that offer your furry the possibility of entertaining and exercising his mind during your absence.
How to prevent the obsession with the ball in dogs?
Many guardians wonder if it is necessary to deprive their dogs of this activity to prevent the obsession with the ball. But the problem is not in the ball itself, or in any other object that we can throw at our dogs to stimulate them. The relationship that dogs have with their toys, their environment and the stimuli that compose it, will depend on the education provided by their guardians.
The ball, like all dog toys, is neither good nor bad. The danger of an obsession appears when the game with the ball (or with any other object) is not presented correctly in the routine of a dog. Therefore, all the games that we present to our dogs must be inserted in the context of their education, where certain rules need to be respected to guarantee the success and safety of this exercise.
Before you start playing ball with your dog, teach him some basic obedience commands , such as sitting, waiting or staying, dropping objects , answering your call , among others. Once you have fully practiced each of these basic training orders with your best friend, he will be ready to learn to play ball and perform many other activities safely, always respecting your commands.
When teaching a dog to play ball , handlers must also commit to following a certain routine. That is, you shouldn’t just throw the ball at your dog and wait for it to return it to you, and so on, over and over. Remember that this game must be inserted in the context of your education, practicing those orders that you have previously taught.
Before starting the game, call your dog and make sure to grab his attention. Then, show him the ball, ask him to sit down and wait for you to throw it, always keeping an attentive and balanced behavior. You should only throw the ball to him if these previous orders are carried out successfully. In the event that the furry is over-excited, nervous, or presents undesired behaviors, such as excessive barking or jumping over people, trying to reach the ball, you must save the toy and end the game .
The game with the ball, and all the other activities that you practice with your furry, should be assimilated by the dog as a reward for his good behaviors, as obeying the orders of his guardians, and not as a moment of overexcitation or relief from their sedentary lifestyle. To achieve this, it will also be essential to follow certain basic guidelines, such as:
- Take at least 2 daily walks with your dog, 30 to 45 minutes each.
- Provide adequate mental stimulation, with games, toys, activities and / or sports that allow you to develop your senses and exercise your intelligence.
- Know and use environmental enrichment for dogs , providing a stimulating home where you can exercise and entertain during your absence.
- Take time to play with your dog, introduce him to different activities, go for a walk, teach him new orders and tasks, discover new places, meet new people … In short, reserve a special space for your day to share with your best friend.
- Educate your dog from its arrival to its new home, investing in its training and early socialization to prevent behavior problems. Do not reinforce unwanted behaviors that, in principle, may seem funny or harmless, but that over time can harm the dog’s health and coexistence at home. Remember to use positive reinforcement to stimulate your learning and reward your effort.
Last (and not least), remember to offer adequate preventive medicine to your best friend, throughout his life. In addition to preventive visits to the vet, always keep up to date with your vaccines and deworming, and do not neglect your nutrition and oral hygiene.