The tennis ball is a classic dog toy that can provide many hours of excitement for your pup. A simple game of fetch is not only great fun, it will improve their fitness and also build an unbreakable bond of trust and friendship between you both. But what is it about the humble tennis ball that makes them so irresistible to our four-legged friends?
The Instinctive Attraction Of A Tennis Ball
In order to better understand why dogs like tennis balls so much we need to take a trip back into their ancestral past. The instinct to chase and retrieve dates back to ancient times and we need only look at the domestic dog’s oldest relative the wolf for behavioural insight. The wolf’s instinct is to bring back prey to their den to feed their pack, and this behaviour is still deeply recessed within our pets. If you throw a ball for your furry friend the erratic movements mimic those of the prey their wolf ancestors used to hunt and kill. Even though dogs have been domesticated for centuries these instincts are still very much alive. Chasing things, hunting and retrieving is in their DNA as a means for survival. This is why your dog will often shake it’s head after catching a tennis ball, this side to side movement is a neck-breaking device designed to kill a small animal. Moreover, that furry layer of felt on a tennis ball closely resembles the skin of a creature further creating total doggie irresistibility.
Some dogs love to fetch more than others, and over time certain types of dog have been bred to be exceptional in this type of behaviour. Very few dogs are used for hunting these days and with no animals to chase or retrieve, dogs and owners have found different ways to give an outlet to this predatory drive. The movement of a tennis ball is especially unpredictable and erratic, cleverly mirroring the movement of cornered prey, and thus this very basic instinct is replicated. While dogs are aware that balls are not rabbits or ducks the act of chasing it mimics perfectly the very activity they have been so expertly bred to enjoy.
Bonding Over A Game Of Fetch
There is of course another reason why dogs love a good game of fetch, it is simply fun! When they chase the ball and return it to their master they have accomplished a deed and this gives them pleasure. Your dog loves quality time with you, their master, playing fetch gives them the perfect opportunity to have some one-to-one time together with their favourite person in the world. It’s a great opportunity to strengthen master and hound bonds and also achieve better results when training your dog to behave in many other ways.
Why Tennis Balls Are The Most Irresistible of Dog Balls Of Them All!
Dogs particularly love tennis balls as they are the perfect size to be held comfortably in their mouth and they have a wonderful springy texture that encourages them to bite down and enjoy the ball as it springs back up again. The felt on tennis balls means that they take on a personal scent from the dog’s mouth, and your dog can smell that it’s their very own ball.
Some dogs will be a natural ball-fetcher straight away, while others will need encouragement. Motivate your dog to fetch by using lots of verbal praise and treats as a reward for successful retrieval. The sooner you engage your new puppy with the game the more likely you will be to have a grown dog that adores playing fetch.
Can Playing Fetch Ever Be Harmful?
Playing fetch is a rewarding game for you and your dog and is to be highly encouraged, however, do be aware of a few health concerns when using a ball with your dog. Be particularly careful to keep your ball games down to half an hour, especially for breeds that have a tendency for leg injuries, such as Labradors. Overplay can lead to muscle strain and more serious ligament injury.
Many owners will agree, dogs can occasionally love their balls just a little too much! A fetch-obsessed dog may stare at their ball endlessly and beg to play, and even experience anxiety if you take the ball away. If you have any worries about your dog’s behaviour we would always encourage you to make an appointment with a dog trainer who will have methods to help your dog to relax and focus on others things.
While tennis balls are robust for many dogs, they can be destroyed by powerful chewers. We recommend not to leave your dog alone with a tennis ball to ensure that the ball does not pose any sort of choking hazard. Furthermore, do not to let your dog carry more than one ball in their mouth at a time as it’s possible that one may get lodged in their throat.
Beware of cheap imitation dog tennis balls, make sure you buy premium tennis balls like our Price of Bath dog ball range. Customer feedback is 100% positive and they carefully follow government regulations. Tennis-style balls made specifically for dogs are produced mostly in the Far East and are unregulated and may contain a toxic substance.
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