Does your dog jump at the first sight of a ball? Is getting a ball away from your dog a monumental task? If so, you may also have found yourself wondering, why do dogs like balls so much?
Let’s decode this mystery together.
Why Dogs Love Balls: Decoded
To understand why do dogs like balls, we must look at the root of their behavior.
Their Prey Drive
For a dog, especially one bred for hunting purposes, the way a ball moves when you throw it is similar to the movements of prey. To top it off, the hairy texture and the erratic bounce of the ball may also remind them of rodents, which they used to hunt for food.
This can kick their prey drive into motion — which is merely a mild variation of their natural predatory sequence — and tempts them to retrieve the ball.
So, why do dogs like chasing balls?
Well, the thrill of the hunt stimulates the release of dopamine — a type of neurotransmitter that gives the dog a feel-good feeling. It becomes kind of an obsession and is common in Border Collies and Shepherds, although other dog breeds do like playing with balls as well.
Their Love For Chasing
Balls are small, so dogs can easily carry them in their mouths and chew on them once they’ve chased them — kind of like a reward for a job well done.
This action is soothing to dogs and can even help with their dental health. Balls have no sharp edges, only smooth roundness, ensuring a pleasant mouthfeel without hurting your dog’s gums when they chew. Dog friendly beaches are best to play this game.
It also explains the question of why do dogs like to catch balls.
Chasing and catching balls might also help release endorphins, giving dogs a drug-like high that they crave every time a ball is in sight.
They Have A Positive Association with the Item — From Their Training Days
When you brought your pup home, you may have started teaching it how to play fetch. This game didn’t just provide your dog with mental and physical stimulation but also helps your pup develop a positive association with it.
If there’s one thing we know about dogs, it’s that they love to please their humans.
Your dog may have started associating the game as a way to bond with you and get your attention. If you gave your dog after they retrieved the ball, then they may also have associated it with positive behavior. This explains why dogs stay obsessed with balls even when they grow into adults.
They Have a Strong Physiological Response
Fetching and retrieval balls fall in the modal action pattern or a fixed action pattern, which is a behavioral pattern expressed in response to stimuli or triggers.
When a dog shows a preference or obsession over playing ball, they’re merely expressing a kind of instinct. It provides them with a sensory input that helps create a positive association with the behavior.
Encourage Your Dog’s Natural Instincts With A Ball
Now that you have the answer to why do dogs love balls so much, it’s time to indulge them in their favorite game and let get them in touch with their natural instincts.
As with everything, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. And we’ve compiled a set of tips to help you encourage your dog the right way:
- Choose the right ball. It should be small enough to fit in your dog’s mouth but big enough to not be a choking hazard.
- Stimulate their prey drive by making the action of throwing the ball without actually throwing it. It will excite your dog even before the game begins.
- Reward them with treats when they bring the ball back to you.
Apart from tennis balls, you should consider using spiky and squeaky balls. Why do dogs like spiky balls? Because these balls are made from a thicker material that is easy to chew and has an amazing texture that provides a good mouthfeel. And why do dogs like squeaky balls? Because the “squeaking” reminds them of the internal organs of the critters, which feeds into their instinct of hunting.
Now, if you’re wondering, why does my dog like tennis balls so much? It’s because the tennis ball takes on a personal scent from the dog’s mouth, which tells them it’s their ball. It also has a very animal skin-like texture, which further adds to its appeal.
Can Dogs Be Addicted to Balls? If So, How Do I Stop My Dog From Being Obsessed with Balls?
Yes, dogs can get addicted to balls to the point where it becomes near impossible to satisfy their instincts to fetch and chase.
To reduce and even prevent their obsession, you could limit the amount of time they play fetch. Train your dog to understand when playtime is over and limit their access to balls. You can also consider exposing them to various other toys to divert their attention and ensure you give them a nutritious diet that includes greens to keep them in top health.
Don’t know whether green beans are safe for your pup? Well, read Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? and you’ll know for sure.
Word To The Wise
Balls are not typically a cause for concern, but balls that have been subjected to wear and tear over time can pose a problem.
Your dog could swallow pieces of the ball when they chomp and chew on it. It could lead to a foreign body obstruction, resulting in asphyxia which can be fatal.
So, proceed with caution. And if you suspect that your dog has swallowed pieces of a ball, contact a vet immediately.
Playing regularly is also not recommended for dogs with deteriorating health conditions. The constant running and fetching can weaken your dog and constant chewing can wear out the tooth enamel, which could be bad for your dog’s overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Do Dogs Get Obsessed With Balls?
Balls feed into a dog’s natural instinct to fetch and chase and also help them forge a loving relationship with their humans, which explains why they become obsessed with balls.
Is Playing Ball Good For Dogs?
Playing ball can keep your dog away from boredom and is also a great form of exercise, perfect for dogs with unlimited energy.
We hope this has given you a satisfactory insight into “why do dogs like balls?”
Dogs find great enjoyment in playing with balls, but they also do it to connect with their owners. So, go ahead, indulge them in a game of fetch, and you’ll have a happy pup on hand — one who’s tired enough to sleep without whining!