Chasing a ball is one of the favorite activities of dogs. Normally, it is a harmless game that allows them to have fun while exercising their body and their senses, right? But the truth is that many dog owners may start to notice that their best friends are becoming more and more obsessed with this game. They find it hard to stop and seem almost addicted to playing fetch.
Do you feel that is the case with your dog? Let’s see what could be the cause.
How to know if your dog is obsessed with his ball
Healthy dogs are often motivated to exercise, go for walks, interact with other dogs or people, play with their toys, be around loved ones, among many other things. However, when dogs become obsessed with their ball, it seems that it is the only thing that can bring them joy.
This is what a normal relationship between a dog and his ball should look like:
- You show them a ball and they seem excited and eager to play.
- You throw the ball, they return it to you. If another dog comes in to play, your dog may feel a little jealous, but he doesn’t become aggressive.
- After a while, your dog begins to show signs of tiredness.
- If he decides to stop the game and put the ball away, your dog shows no signs of anxiety. On the contrary, he looks relaxed and ready to rest.
However, an obsessed dog will constantly demand that you keep throwing the ball at him. They will not show signs of tiredness even if they have exercised for a long time. You may also notice other strange behaviors that you have never seen in your dog before. These include: hyperactivity, tachycardia, excessive barking and crying.
Why is my dog obsessed with his ball?
To understand why some dogs are addicted to the ball, we need to understand what causes this seemingly trivial activity in their brains. Chasing the ball awakens the hunting instinct of our pets.
Although your dog does not need to look for his food to survive, we must bear in mind that hunting is an instinctive behavior in them. Instinctive behaviors are innate abilities that occur as a result of a specific stimulus and are not learned. When we throw the ball to them, we are artificially recreating the context of a hunt. The game allows the dog to exercise his senses, instincts and body strength. Once they have reached their prey, they can enjoy the coveted prize, which in this case is a ball.
However, unlike his ancestors in the wild, your pet hasn’t starved for days or hunted for hours in inclement weather. Naturally, they have made much less effort to achieve their goal and the ball does not give them much satisfaction. This could explain why they are motivated to repeat this pattern over and over again, seeking satisfaction that they cannot find.
As with almost all behavior problems, ball obsession is often related to the dog’s upbringing, routine, and lifestyle. If your dog starts to show signs of overexcitement, you’ll keep throwing the ball at him because you think he’s having a good time. However, by doing so, you will be reinforcing the obsessive behavior without knowing it. In a way, you’re sending your dog the message that it’s okay for him to be overexcited and behaving hyperactively by rewarding him with throwing the ball back to him.
What to do if my dog is obsessed with the ball?
Ball obsession should not be underestimated or ignored, as it poses a risk to the dog’s physical and mental health. Therefore, you should act as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above.
The first thing you should do is stop playing with the ball. By continuing, you will only be reinforcing his obsessive behavior. We know that it can seem cruel to deprive your best friend of something that he enjoys so much. But remember that if the game becomes an obsession, its effects cease to be positive.
The best we can do for them is to stop feeding their obsession and consult a trained professional to help us treat them. Ideally, you should consult a veterinarian or a canine educator who can help you and guide you on how to treat this behavior problem.