Do dogs want you to throw the ball? Get Your Pet Thinking

What does it mean when your dog stares at you?

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

Why do dogs want you to throw the ball?

Dogs have a tendency to want to chase things. … Dogs are aware that balls are not rabbits, but the act of chasing a ball replicates that of their past time. The ball is an item dogs love specifically because they can chase it well, it can fit in their mouth easily, they can spot it, and it is fast.

How to know if your dog is obsessed with his ball

Healthy dogs are often motivated to exercise, go for walks, interact with other dogs or people, play with their toys, be around loved ones, among many other things. However, when dogs become obsessed with their ball, it seems that it is the only thing that can bring them joy.

This is what a normal relationship between a dog and his ball should look like:

  • You show them a ball and they seem excited and eager to play.
  • You throw the ball, they return it to you. If another dog comes in to play, your dog may feel a little jealous, but he doesn’t become aggressive.
  • After a while, your dog begins to show signs of tiredness.
  • If he decides to stop the game and put the ball away, your dog shows no signs of anxiety. On the contrary, he looks relaxed and ready to rest.
  • However, an obsessed dog will constantly demand that you keep throwing the ball at him. They will not show signs of tiredness even if they have exercised for a long time. You may also notice other strange behaviors that you have never seen in your dog before. These include: hyperactivity, tachycardia, excessive barking and crying.

    TOO excited? or OBSESSED with TOYS? – Dog training by Kikopup

    Most dogs love to run out and fetch a ball or stick for their owner and some might even leap up for a Frisbee, but there are growing concerns about how damaging such games could be for your dog. The British Veterinary Association stated in 2016 that throwing sticks for dogs is potentially life-threatening.

    Yet, so many dogs find playing fetch vastly enjoyable and this leaves people confused—why stop a game that dogs seem to love so much? Are these health warnings even accurate?

    The scientific evidence for the perils of fetch is increasing and indicates that repetitively running after a ball, leaping into the air for a toy or chasing a stick can lead to joint problems or other injuries. But that does not mean fetch games should stop altogether. Many dogs are natural retrievers and love bringing objects back to their owner. There are ways to play fetch that are safe and fun for your dog, but even if you still want to chuck a ball or throw a stick, knowing what could happen will prepare you and make sure you can take the best care of your dog.

    Vets see many dogs with stick related injuries and advise owners not to let their dogs play with sticks

    In 2016, the British Veterinary Association warned owners that playing fetch with sticks could lead to horrific injuries. The BVA had good reason to be concerned; information from individual vet practices has revealed how dangerous a thrown stick can be.

    One vet practice in Sandbach, Cheshire, reported seeing about twenty stick related injuries a year. Vet Cameron Muir explained that typically the injuries are due to the dog impaling itself on the stick, or damaging their mouths: “Its a risky business throwing sticks. We often have to put dogs under anaesthetic to remove splinters, and sometimes have them in for repeat surgeries.”

    According to the UK veterinary charity PDSA, they see stick related injuries across their 51 UK practices every week. Injuries from sticks may not be immediately apparent, Smooth Collie Maya did not show any signs of distress after a walk where she chased sticks, but some time later she became subdued and wouldnt eat. According to her owner Cathy Pryde:

    Even more dramatic than Mayas accident was that which occurred to spaniel Rudi, who had to be rushed 100 miles to an emergency vet when he ran into a stick 26cm (10in) long. The stick had gone into his mouth and Rudis owner could see the tip in his throat, what he did not know was the stick had penetrated further into the dogs body and ran down into his foreleg.

    Rudi underwent a mammoth operation to remove the stick and needed 52 stitches. He was extremely lucky—if the stick had gone just one or two millimetres further either way, it would have hit a major artery and Rudi would not have survived.

    The commonest way for a dog to be injured by a stick is when it is thrown and they run out for it. If the stick has not yet settled on the ground or is sticking up at an angle, they may impale themselves on it. Sticks can be as deadly as a knife when run into at high speeds and will shatter and splinter as they enter soft tissue. Usually, the injuries are to the mouth, chest or abdomen.

    Chewing on sticks can be equally dangerous, as large splinters can lodge in the mouth, causing open wounds that are prone to infection. If splinters are swallowed, the throat or stomach can be damaged.

    The Royal Veterinary College did a study on injuries caused by sticks and found they were as common as injuries caused by dogs running onto roads. Professor Dan Brockman stated:

    The overall opinion from vets is not to throw sticks; instead try using safer alternatives, such as dog toys that look like sticks but are made from soft plastic or rubber.

    Many people take a ball out with them to throw for their dog. Dogs love to chase the fast-flying balls, hurtling after them, then grabbing them up, spinning around and racing back to their owner to do it all again.

    Dogs are so renowned for being keen ball chasers that the pet market is now full of ball throwing choices—from ball lobbers, that assist handlers in chucking a ball a long way, to ball throwing plastic guns. There are also many types of balls that you can buy for your dog; hard balls, soft foam balls, tennis balls, tough balls, balls with holes, giant balls and even mini balls for smaller mouths. It is easy to see why any owner might think that ball throwing and chasing is the most natural activity for dogs.

    While occasionally playing fetch with a ball is not likely to cause lasting harm to a dog, repetitively chasing a ball day in and day out can have consequences both to a dogs physical health and to their mental well being. The top three reasons why constant ball throwing could be detrimental to your dog are:

    Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna conducted a study on the effects of dogs carrying objects in their mouths and released the results in 2017. They found that when dogs are carrying something, they place more weight on their front legs and this could result in joint strains and injuries if the object is too heavy, if they are puppies, or if they run and jump with the item.

    Dogs typically place 60% of their weight on their front legs and 40% on their hind legs. When carrying a heavy object, the dog shifts more of its weight forward to compensate and begins to run in a seesaw fashion with the burden being on their front quarters.

    Dr. Barbara Bockstahler, a veterinary surgeon involved in the study, explained how this impacts on the dogs body:

    The study used pressure plates that dogs walked over to determine how they were carrying their body weight. The test subjects were Labradors, known for their enthusiastic retrieving skills. When the dogs were asked to carry a toy that weighed about half a kilogram (1.1lbs) the dogs started to carry 66% of their weight on their front legs. When asked to carry a 4kg (8.8lbs) object, equivalent to carrying a bird or large branch, they started to place 75% of their weight on their front legs.

    The impact of this weight shift could result in strains and muscular injuries according to Dr. Bockstahler:

    In larger breeds, carrying a tennis ball should not cause a weight shift, but in smaller dogs, it could. Equally, dogs that regularly chase and carry heavy footballs (soccer balls) will weight shift and potentially place strain on their front legs.

    But it is not just carrying balls that could cause injuries. The action of charging out after a ball could place unnecessary strain on a dogs joints, leading to long-term problems such as arthritis. Veterinarian Hanna Capon is the founder of the Canine Arthritis Management website and has concerns about the damaging effects caused by ball chasing, especially when using ball throwers that launch the object a long way off:

    The real issue is the way that many dogs are encouraged to repetitively chase ball after ball, with the intention of tiring them out. Say you throw a ball ten times during a walk, over seven days that is seventy throws, seventy times the dog has charged out, twisted or jumped to grab the ball and powered back. Over the course of a year that is 3,640 high impact runs your dog has done, and over a ten-year lifespan, that would be over 30,000 and each of those throws has placed a strain on the body.

    Wrist, shoulder, neck and spinal injuries are a common result of intensive ball throwing sessions as Lynn Wetenhall discovered when her terrier cross Smudge developed two serious injuries—hyper-extended carpal (wrist) joints and strained lower back muscles, which were suspected to have been caused by chasing balls. Smudges injuries were fortunately found before they caused permanent damage and with physiotherapy he made a full recovery. Lynn has a simple message for other dog owners: “Dont use ball flingers. Do not throw balls up in the air for your dog.”