The benefits of playing fetch with your dog

Playing ball with your dog is one of the most classic bonding activities you can do. The pure joy they get when they’re running back to you (hopefully..) with the ball or even when it turns into a little game of chase ;). Nevertheless, you’re getting exercise, they're getting exercise, and there’s playful barking and laughter. Everyone having fun with something as simple as throwing a ball.

If you’ve never played fetch before and this is your first dog you may be asking how to play, how often you should and if is it good to play fetch. Here we will break everything down for you, clearly and simply.

Firstly, is it even good to play fetch?

The short answer is yes, after taking into account the things we’ve discussed below. You’ll be able to freely and responsibly enjoy many games of fetch with your pup. One of the first things you need to think about is the ball you will be using. There are certain types of balls that should not be used for playing with dogs due to potential safety hazards.

border collie catch ball in the air

 Tiny balls: Balls that are too small can be a choking hazard for dogs, especially for smaller breeds. Avoid using balls that are small enough to be entirely in your dog's mouth and become lodged in their throat.

Hard balls: Balls made of hard materials can cause damage to a dog's teeth and gums. You may be wondering…

 “Are tennis balls good for dogs?” 

Tennis balls are made of a hard rubber material that can cause damage to a dog's teeth and gums over time. Since they are inexpensive, some may contain toxic chemicals, such as lead and other heavy metals, that can be harmful to dogs if ingested. It's important to choose tennis balls that are made with non-toxic materials and to supervise playtime carefully to ensure your dog doesn't chew or swallow the ball. If your dog is a heavy chewer or tends to bite down hard on toys, playing with tennis balls may not be the best option.

Inflatable balls: Inflatable balls can deflate quickly and become a choking hazard if a dog tries to bite or chew on them. In addition, they can be easily punctured and pose a risk of injury to your dog. Then how can you play with their favourite type of ball? The soccer ball? Check out our interactive soccer ball specially made for dogs. It has the look of a soccer ball it’s lightweight and bouncy and the best part is it's made with TPU nylon material making it wear-resistant and bite-resistant!

border collie playing with interactive soccer ball

Chemical balls: Balls made with toxic materials or chemicals can be harmful to dogs if ingested. Avoid using balls that are coated with lead, toxic paints, or other hazardous substances. Such as very cheap balls that can be coated with paint or other materials or old balls that have become worn and degraded, releasing toxic substances that can be harmful to dogs

When choosing a ball for playing with your dog, it's important to choose one that is appropriate for their size, breed, and physical abilities. Look for balls made of durable, non-toxic materials and make sure they are big enough that your dog can't accidentally choke on them. By taking these precautions, you can ensure that playing ball with your dog remains a safe and enjoyable activity for both of you. The next step is the fun part, actually playing with your pup..

But how do you play fetch? 

First of all, you need to have an understanding of your dog’s physical abilities. Different dogs have different physical abilities and limitations. Their age, breed and state of mind will all influence this. Certain dogs live to run like working breeds such as Border Collies and Labradors. Others may have little interest in going back and forth and more of an “I got the ball now you can chase me!” type of mentality like Akitas or Huskies. Or they’ll bring it back once and then look at you strangely as “why did you throw it again, I just brought it back”. Then we have dogs that enjoy the game of fetch but more fun, and casual, like a Newfoundland or a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Start easy and with a mountain of patience! This is a game and it’ll take time for them to figure it out you will just have to adapt to their breed and their attitude with it. Even if you have a working breed or very active dog doesn’t mean they will want to play fetch. Always be aware of your dog's body language. Begin with an easy toss and lots and lots of encouragement. Especially, if they're a puppy use their name a lot it’s great practice for recall. Try it a few times and just evaluate their excitement towards the activity. Allow them time to get used to the game and understand what’s expected of them. Make sure you have plenty of space to play ball and that there are no obstacles or hazards that could cause them harm. Also, be mindful of other people and animals who may be nearby and adjust your game accordingly.

Always end on a positive note! Gradually increase the difficulty as your dog becomes more comfortable. Be consistent, be kind and enjoy the experience. Even if they don’t do it exactly how you imagined, all they want to do is make you happy so give them all the love regardless of the outcome.

How often should you play ball?

There are a few factors to keep in mind when thinking of how playing is too much. It’ll depend on their age, breed and physical condition. Generally, puppies will have more energy and desire to play longer. Or again, if they are a working breed they will most likely still want to play multiple times a day. If your dog has some health issues depending on what they are you should limit their play time if advised by your vet. If you have an active dog they may try and push through the pain so you should encourage more rest time for them.

border collie catching ball

 Also, just generally pay attention to their body language. If they seem tired or overexerted, take a break and encourage them to rest. Overdoing it can lead to injury or exhaustion, so it's important to listen to your dog's signals and adjust the playtime accordingly. Ultimately, the frequency of playing ball with your dog will depend on their individual needs and physical abilities. As a general rule, it's a good idea to play ball with your dog several times a week, as long as they are healthy and energetic.

 There is nothing better than playing this game with your best friend, something affordable and entertaining for every member of the family. Remember the few things we discussed before you begin, and then you're ready to go! Stay loving, patient, and understanding as your bond continues to grow. Together, you and your pup are on a special journey, and you will be for a long time. Following these tips will help you have a more enjoyable time playing ball with your dog and creating lasting memories. Don't worry about mishaps, just enjoy the process and remember that a good boy or girl goes a long way.❤️

For more helpful resources for you and your dog, check out our blog and resources page

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