People who have a busy dog ? often think that their dog has to move a lot and do a lot to get rid of his energy. One of the easiest ways to do this is by running the dog behind balls. The opposite is often true: dogs that are very busy need more rest and more mental challenge. I see dog owners who play ball games with their dog every day. Dogs often run behind a ball in full speed time after time. People think that their dog likes it or that the dog can not be let out without the ball. Unfortunately, what most people do not know is that playing with tennis balls is not so good at all and can often cause behavioral problems.
Charging for the body: not good for young and older dogs
It is very stressful for the body of a dog to run at the back of the ball. Dogs stand still, then run hard behind the ball without being warmed up first, brakes suddenly hard to catch the ball, run at full speed with the ball back, to brake the owner hard again. Then this repeats an x ? number of times. In the longer term, chasing balls can have major consequences for the joints. Having pain is one of the biggest causes causing dogs to drop out or show undesirable behavior. The younger the dog is, the more damage you do to the joints when the dog goes after the ball. For example, it is important that a puppy does not walk stairs, does not walk too much and, for example, does not walk in soft sand from the beach or dunes. Many older dogs suffer from osteoarthritis, but go through their pain when they go after the ball.
Does your dog go after cyclists, joggers, cats and other animals ?
By repeatedly chasing a ball, the hunting instinct is triggered and this causes hyperactivity and stress. Trigger the hunting instinct is often not desirable, this encourages your dog to, for example, go after cyclists, cars, birds, cats and other (domestic) animals. No dog has been made to run back and forth behind time after time. Running behind movements is part of the hunt, but grabbing the prey and possibly killing happens only once: at the end of the hunting party. Then it is time for rest to recover. When you play with the ball, you almost never throw the ball once. The repetition of throwing balls causes a dog to become restless and stressed. When your dog goes after cyclists, cats or other animals : stop throwing balls! You can not expect the dog not to be allowed to move behind, while being encouraged to run after a ball.
Production of adrenaline and cortisol: dogs become mentally and physically stressed
The restless and stressed by throwing balls, you can see because a dog is completely hyper, stiff of the tension, beeping and barking when he sees the ball and / or when you throw the ball. Dogs that play a lot with balls often do not show their normal behavior during a walk and respond impulsively without thinking. They are only focused on the ball and can no longer sniff quietly and show their natural behavior during a walk. They do not engage in healthy interaction with other dogs because they only have eyes for the ball. With some dogs it goes so far that they get addicted to the ball by the adrenaline kick of running behind a ball. They can no longer function without a ball. In addition to adrenaline, the stress hormone cortisol is created when a dog runs after the ball. It takes an average of 2 to 6 days before this hormone is out of the body. When you throw balls again within these days, the body does not get the chance to relax and the stress level will not drop. A dog can therefore get chronic stress. A dog in which the cortisol level in the body is always high, is over-stimulated more quickly and can have less, resulting in behavioral problems.
Alternatives: what can you do instead of throwing balls ?
Instead of running the dog behind a ball, you can also hide the ball and have your dog search for the ball. Or let the dog search for other objects or chunks. This is a lot natural than running after the ball and it is also a nice way for the dog to become mentally tired. Dogs must therefore use one of their best senses: their nose. To work with their nose, a dog has to think and can not react impulsively. What is also a fun activity is a sniff walk.