If you are a dog person, especially if you have pet dogs, you must have wondered what it is that these creatures love so much about balls. Why do they chase behind colorful, bouncing balls, with sheer excitement and utterly passionate, gleaming eyes?
Dogs love balls because chasing and catching balls satisfies their predatory instincts of hunting small animals. Moreover, playing fetch with owners instills a sense of loyalty and reward in the pet dogs, while also solidifying the bond between the pups and their owners.
Dogs are often referred to as the friends of humans. The many beautiful ways in which humans connect with their dogs are beyond all explanations, using their parental instincts to nourish and nurture their pet dogs. Dogs love to play with their owners, specially the game of fetch, and games like that strengthen the bond between them.
Playing fetch with their dogs is also a very enjoyable experience for humans, they often spend their leisure time with their dogs, which indeed provides for them a worthwhile experience.
After humans, balls seem to be the most precious and attention worthy item for many dogs. While they love cuddling and playing with humans, dogs love just as much to chase a ball, catch it, and chew on it. So why do dogs love balls so much?
A characteristic of a dog
All animals adapt themselves and their behaviors according to the environments and circumstances surrounding them, so that they may thrive and survive as a specie. Dogs have also had their own survival skills and instincts which helped them live through history.
They weren’t always the tamed, fluffy creatures acting as pets to humankind.
In older times, dogs used to be hunters, they used to prey on smaller animals, chasing, catching, and feasting on them.
Dogs have sharp vision which can help them locate very fast, moving objects, hence it improved their ability to catch animals while hunting.
Survival was not the only reason why the dogs used to hunt. Humans in past times would train their dogs to hunt animals.
These dogs would then chase and catch animals, and bring them to their masters as a source of food for them.
Characteristics such as sharp vision, predatory instincts, and bodies structured specially for running, made the dogs perfect to serve the job of devouring hunters.
Also, the dogs were made to hunt other animals as a sporting activity to provide entertainment for men in older times.
The instincts that have been running through generations:
Although the domesticated dogs don’t have to hunt for survival nowadays, neither are the hunting games allowed anymore, they still have their predatory, hunting instincts engraved, deep in their nature. Domesticating dogs did tame their wild, devouring nature of killing weaker animals, but traces of these traits still exist in their genes.
These dogs no longer kill, but having their instinctual wants fulfilled does bring them satisfaction.
The act of chasing, capturing and chewing on balls is symbolic of scurrying animals that dogs used to hunt and eat in older times. Getting their hands on the balls brings a sense of achievement to the dogs, while also pleasing their inner predators.
Furthermore, catching balls also gives the dogs a sense of being more powerful than their catch, which again adds to their contentment and self-esteem.
The balls seem very attractive to the dogs, and they keep a firm eye on balls as they run to capture it, the same way dogs in older times focused on moving animals to hunt them down.
This is a big reason why dogs of the present time appear to have such fondness of balls of differing sizes and colors, as these balls act as means to satisfy their suppressed wants.
The dogs find it immensely pleasurable to play fetch with their owners.
They love to run behind balls and retrieve them for their owners, and the act gives them great sense of accomplishment and reward, which ultimately makes them feel good about themselves. When the owner throws the ball, and dogs get it back to them, it is also symbolic of their loyalty towards their owners.
Playing with the balls helps dogs and humans to spend quality time together while also strengthening their bond.
Also, playing fetch helps dogs express their natural predatory instincts in a controlled way, hence not totally suppressing their inner demons.
When they let out their aggressive, but natural impulses, it prevents the accumulation of too much negativity and anger in them. So, it is better for a dog to play with balls, as doing so could have healthy impacts on their behaviors and brains.
Also, playing with balls can make dogs very happy, hence making them easy to control and train.
However, not all dogs like to play fetch, it may be determined by the breed and temperament of different dogs.
Dogs are extremely sweet creatures, always wanting to catch an eye, always wanting to be liked. Running behind balls, catching and playing around with them allows dogs to gain attention of an audience, a sensation they value a lot.
Balls are usually made of materials that are of the right type, allowing dogs to chew them as much as they want to and for as long as they want to.
Balls have circular structure, and move very swiftly. The movement of a ball almost mimics the movement of small animals, waking the inner chaser of a dog.
Also, these balls are not very large, and can fit into a dog’s mouth easily.
Playing with balls makes the dogs engage in healthy exercise, which consequently helps them to be relieved of stress.
Also, playing with their favorite people and toys can help channel their aggression out, and uplift their mood.
Can balls ever be harmful for dogs?
People with pet dogs that love balls, often ask this question. It is better for one to be aware of possible dangers before, so that they may be able to prevent any hazardous events in the future. Below are some of the dangers associated with balls:
Some dogs have very strong jaws, and in such cases balls can be very easy for them compress. If a ball bursts in the dog’s mouth, it can cause the animal to choke, and in severe situations may even lead to their death. So, it is advisable that owners supervise their dogs while they are playing with balls, and if anything like that happens, contact a vet immediately.
Some low quality, cheap balls can be easily chewed, even by dogs with weak jaws.
These balls may contain chemicals which could be harmful for a dog’s health. These chemicals can be destructive for a dog’s intestines if ingested, and may consequently lead to intestinal blockages and other metabolic issues.
So owners must buy good quality balls for their pet dogs if they are an integral part of their pet’s routine.
Some balls, such as tennis balls have a very tough structure, and may cause dental wear to dogs when they chew on them. However, other toy balls do not pose such great threats to a dog’s oral health.
Yet, some of these problems can be solved only if the dogs are given proper care and observation, so your dog won’t have to completely give up on its darling balls.
Look out for Obsession:
It is totally normal for a dog to love balls.
However if your dog is fixated only on this one item, and doesn’t listen to you, shows lack of interest in you, people and other toys, then that is a problem.
Your dog may be over obsessed with the ball.
They may show signs of aggression, possessiveness and become habitual of snarling and biting other animals, and potentially inflicting injuries to them.
Moreover, fixation can lead to disobedience in dogs, and may lead to accidents, for example when you are crossing a road with them and they deviate from your instructions to get a ball.
How to help you dog overcome its obsession of balls?
First things first, you need to be the one in control. You really need to get your pet to obey you, so that you can ensure its safety. The most important thing is that you create a time slot during which you allow your dog to play with the ball, also include your fetch game within that slot. Doing so will help your dog realize that there is a specific time period around which they can get the ball, they will start to relax and let go of their obsession of balls. Also, hide the tennis ball away when the playtime is over, so that your dog is unable to access it, and your strategy goes on effectively.
Another thing you can do is broadening your dog’s toy collection. Perhaps, if introduced to new items, they could start to develop a liking for something other than balls. You may also use balls, but ones with varying colors, materials and sizes. Furthermore, you could try to play fetch with something other than a ball, for example a stick.
Lastly, you should make your dog engage in more physical activity, exercise can help them release stress and also make them tired. A happy and tired dog is much less likely to show aggressiveness in obsession over a ball than a dog that is fully energized.
Perhaps now you’ve got an idea as to why dogs are so fond of balls. To summarize, it is the predatory instincts and happiness inducing activities related to the balls which makes them such a precious item for dogs. It is a healthy activity for dogs to play with balls, however care must be taken to prevent a ball’s drawbacks from overshadowing its positive impacts. It is important that the owners supervise their dogs while they are playing with balls, impose a playtime limit on their pets, and make sure that they buy safe and good quality balls for them.
So, let your doggie enjoy its time with the balls, play along if you can. Do take the necessary precautions seriously, and make sure your pup is well taken care of. Then, they shall be all set to have their time with their beloved balls.