A lot of dogs love chasing after a ball; they are a great tool for exercising a dog, training a dog and bonding. However, here is a bit of advice when deciding on which balls to choose.
- Size matters: Too small could become a choking hazard too large could mean your dog clamps down too hard when in their mouth putting pressure on their jaw. Try to find a ball that fits comfortably in your dogs mouth.
- Materials: Check they are non hazardous, tennis balls have a fibre that can actually be very abrasive to their teeth and wear them down over time. Look for specific dog toy balls made for them.
- Supervise: Remember balls are for throwing and chasing, not designed for chewing, so when your dog settles down with one either throw another one for them to chase or swap the ball for a tasty treat.
- Type: Try to use balls that have multiple holes in them in case they get stuck in throats; those holes may allow air to still get through. Again, perhaps use ball toys that are made for dogs.
Finally a word on using balls for exercise.
It may seem like a good idea to go out and throw the ball for your dog again and again for the duration of the walk. After all you want to tire them out so they will relax later on. However, there are dangers to this and perhaps won’t tire them out like you believe.
First of all, there is an increase to injury if they are just running, full pelt, back and forth chasing the ball, doing shape turns, etc. This could cause them to trip or sprain a leg.
Secondly, it is not natural for a dog to just run and run and run full speed over and over again, if they were chasing prey this would be only a handful of times a day (not every day) and then lots of resting to recover. In fact you could be training an athlete who then requires the hour of ball throwing just to maintain them but not actually tire them out anymore.
Instead, I would say, incorporate the ball throwing in a walk (perhaps as a reward for coming back when called), but also do a lot of exploring together at a slower pace, discover new things together and go off the beaten track. Try just sitting down together and watching the world go by, remember, it is about bonding with your dog.
We do different things to expel our energy, go to the gym, visit a museum, read a book, make sure you do the same variety of things with your dog.
Conclusion, play is a really important part of bonding with your dog and should be encouraged, but just think about what you are doing and change it up.
This is a guest blog by one of our many animal community friends. It has not been written by The Finchley Vet staff. We love to showcase other people's work as we think it makes things more interesting for you, our readers, however, it does mean that we have not checked any of the facts and any opinions are those of the author and not of the Finchley Vet, or Local Vet Ltd.