Behavioral problems

Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball?

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. November 22, 2021
Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball?

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Chasing a ball is one the favorite outdoor activities of dogs. Normally, it is a harmless game that allows them to have fun while exercising their body and senses. Many dog owners might notice their best friends are becoming increasingly obstinate. They never want to stop and seem almost addicted to playing fetch.

If you feel like your dog is following you around at all times and carrying a ball while staring directly at you, keep reading this AnimalWised article to find out if your dog is obsessed with their ball. We will also describe all the possible reasons behind this strange behavior and explain what you can do to correct this conduct.

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  1. How to tell if your dog is obsessed with their ball
  2. Why is my dog obsessed with their ball?
  3. What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?
  4. How to prevent obsession with the ball in dogs?

How to tell if your dog is obsessed with their ball

Healthy dogs are usually motivated to exercise, go on walks, enjoy a snack, interact with other dogs or people, play with their toys, be closed to their loved ones, among many other things. However, when dogs become obsessed with their ball, it looks as if it is the only thing that can bring them joy.

Here is how a normal relationship between a dog and its ball should be:

  • You show them a ball and they seem excited and eager to play.
  • You throw the ball, they fetch it back to you. If another dog comes in to play, your dog might feel a little jealous, but it does not become aggressive.
  • After doing this for a while, your dog starts showing signs of tiredness and looks less motivated.
  • If you decide to stop the game and put away the ball, your dog doesn't show signs of anxiety. On the contrary, they look relaxed and ready to rest.

However, an obsessed dog will permanently demand that you keep throwing the ball. They will not show signs of tiredness even if they have exercised for a long time. You might also notice other strange behaviors that you have never seen in your dog before. These include: hyperactivity, tachycardia, excessive barking and whining.

Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball? - How to tell if your dog is obsessed with their ball

Why is my dog obsessed with their ball?

To understand why some dogs are addicted to the ball, we need to understand what this seemly trivial activity causes in their brains. Chasing the ball awakens the hunting instinct of our pets.

Even though your dog does not need to hunt for their food in order to survive, we should keep in mind that hunting is an instinctive behavior in dogs. Instinctive behaviors are innate abilities that occur as a result of a specific stimuli and that are not learned. When we throw them the ball, we are artificially recreating the context of a hunt. The game allows the dog to exercise its senses, instincts, and body power. Once they have reached their prey, they can enjoy the long-awaited prize, which in this case is a ball.

However, unlike their ancestors in the wild, your pet has not starved for days, nor hunted for hours under harsh weather conditions. Naturally, they have made a significantly less effort to achieve their goal and the ball does not bring them great satisfaction. This might explain why they feel motivated to repeat this pattern over and over again in the first place.

It is important to notice that trained hunting dog breeds, as well as their crosses, tend to feel a greater excitement when playing with the ball in comparison to other breeds. They are also more likely to develop this problem.

As with almost all behavioral issues, the obsession with the ball is usually related to the dog's education, routine, and lifestyle. If your dog starts showing signs of over-excitement, you will continue to throw the ball to them because you think they are having a good time. However, by doing so, you will be reinforcing the obsessive behavior without knowing it. In a way, you are sending your dog the message that it is ok to be overexcited and behave hyperactively by rewarding them with throwing the ball again.

Check this article to know more about common puppy training mistakes.

What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?

The obsession with the ball should not be underestimated or ignored, since it represents a risk to the physical and mental health of the dog. Therefore, you must act as soon as you notice any of the symptoms that are mentioned above.

The first thing you need to do is stop playing with the ball. By continuing, you will only be reinforcing their obsessive behavior. We know that it can seem cruel to deprive your best friend of something they so greatly enjoy. But remember that if the game becomes an obsession, its effects are no longer positive. They begin to threaten the dog's body and mind.

The best we can do for them is to stop feeding their obsession and consult a trained professional to help us in their treatment. Ideally, you should consult a veterinarian or a canine educator who can help you and guide you on how to treat this behavior problem.

During treatment, it will be essential that you pay special attention to their physical activity and mental stimulation. Your dog will need to find alternative ways to exercise, have fun and socialize. You should reinforce their daily walks and introduce them to other physical exercises or dog sports. You will also need to offer them alternative games and activities to stimulate their mind and keep them busy.

This related article helps you to know more about the best dog intelligence games you can do at home.

Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball? - What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?

How to prevent obsession with the ball in dogs?

Many dog owners wonder if it is necessary to deprive their dogs of this activity to prevent obsession with their ball. But the problem is not in the ball itself, but the relationship that the dogs develop with their toys. The ball is neither good nor bad.

The risk of developing an obsession worsens if the game has not been correctly introduced into their routine. Before you start playing ball with your dog, teach them some basic obedience commands, such as to sit, wait or stay or come to your call. Once you have fully practiced each of these basic training commands, your dog will be ready to learn how to play ball correctly because they will have learned that there are certain rules and boundaries.

How to teach your dog to play with a ball properly

Before starting the game, call your dog and make sure you have their attention. Then, show them the ball and ask them to sit down and wait for you to throw it. You should only throw the ball to him if these previous orders are carried out successfully. If you notice that the dog is showing some negative behavior, you should put the toy away and finish the game. Such negative behaviors include: over-excitement nervousness, excessive barking or if they are jumping on top of people or things to reach the ball.

Games should be adapted to the dog as a reward for their good behaviors. To achieve this, it will be essential to follow certain basic guidelines:

  • Take at least 2 daily walks with your dog, 30 to 45 minutes each.
  • Provide adequate mental stimulation, such as games, toys, activities and/or sports.
  • Spend time playing with your dog, introduce them to different activities, teach them new orders and tasks.
  • Start setting boundaries from the moment they arrive into your home. Do not reinforce unwanted behaviors just because they seem funny or harmless.
  • Remember to use positive reinforcement to stimulate their learning and reward their efforts.

To learn more about other ways you can improve training your dog, read this article on the best training techniques.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Their Ball?