Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Taking a ball can be a fantastic way to get your dog running, use up that energy, keep them busy and tire them out on your walks. It can, however, create some problems, too. If your dog is particularly ball oriented, taking their ball out into the big wide world might inspire possessiveness, guarding and stress at the prospect of others sneaking up and snaffling it away from them.
Sometimes, the level of excitement and stimulation a dog can get from ball throwing might cause the opposite effect you intended to achieve from your walk - hyping them up, over arousing them and maybe even raising their stress levels instead of getting their exercise and ending up with a sleepy and happy pup.
It's important not to use a ball to manage other issues your dog might have, ie. as distraction or redirection from excitement by surrounding stimuli, to occupy their mouth instead of barking at other dogs etc. Instead, these issues need to be addressed directly in order to solve them, instead of just diverting away from them.
If you have a ball obsessed dog and you're worried it might be becoming an issue, you can slowly decrease their dependency or expectancy of playing with it when out and about by gradually increasing its appearance on walks.
There's still the possibility of keeping the ball as an integral part of play by changing the way in which you use it. Instead of throwing it and sending your dog hurtling off at full speed with lightning quick braking and the potential for injury, try turning it into a scent work tool and hiding it, or dropping it and sending your dog to retrieve it. This way, your dog gets to keep their favourite toy and enjoy it without over arousal or stress!
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