To throw a ball or not... why we don’t sell balls or throwers
Updated: Sep 14, 2018
I have personally never been a great advocate for ball throwing, mainly through personal experience, but now through knowledge too.
In my twenties a friend had a dog, a lovely border collie, he was full of life and very energetic.
One day Nigel was playing with him in the garden with a ball, he landed badly and was immediately immobilised. They rushed him to the vet he had slipped a disc, he never walked properly again, and was doubly incontinent from that day. They tried everything, but after a year decided it was time to say goodbye as his quality of life was so awfull.
Fast forward 10 years and I rescued a German pointer called Tosca, she was totally obsessed with balls, if no balls it was sticks, to the point that if she couldn’t find a stick she would make her own by pulling a branch off a tree!
Walking her was rather annoying as she just kept dropping sticks at your feet… and at anyone elses if I wasn’t playing She wasn’t wondering around sniffing, searching, hunting... she was totally addicted to having something thrown for her.
At this point it reconfirmed for different reasons why ball throwing isn’t a great habit.
I love walking my dogs and I found the constant throwing of a ball really dull for me. I am engaged with my dogs when I walk them in different ways, including games that include sniffing (more to come in a different blog post!)...
About 3 years ago I was walking my dogs in Battersea Park when my pointer Obe was leapt on by a Lab we knew from the park….. the dog walker was shocked, couldn’t understand why he had done it, we then realised Obe had passed between him and his ball! Now I understand more of the science and it is something I am very much against.
Ball obsession can lead to dogs being aggressive
Firstly as I said above Tosca was OBSESSED with a ball, and that is what happens.
If you watch dogs playing with a ball in the park, its an inane game running back and forth, dogs are not thinking, using their noses, checking out which dogs have been in the park that day etc…
The motions of running at full speed, jumping, stopping sharply and twisting are not natural movements for dogs, and I know of two dogs in the last 6 weeks who have cruciate ligament injuries leading to operations whilst leaping to catch balls.
You will also see dogs playing with balls in the park are very wound up, they rush to pick up the ball, bring it back, bark till its thrown again, their adrenaline at its highest, hence my dog being attacked, wound up dogs don’t make good decisions.
It takes 3 days for a dog to come down from an adrenaline high, if a dog is thrown a ball every day its constantly on a high... making bad decisions, any issues the dog might have far worse (such as separation anxiety, general anxiety, barking too much etc…)
A dog that comes home from a ball throwing session in the park will not be a calm quiet dog, but a wound up hyper dog, he might be physically tired, but mentally hyper.
When people come to the shop and ask for balls or ball throwers, they think its slightly crazy that we don’t stock them as ‘everyone throws balls in the park!’. As the owner of 3 pointers over the last 30 years a breed who are quite highly strung, I’ve instinctively always wanted them to be as calm as possible, and happy, I know that Tosca’s obsessiveness didn’t make her happy at all.
People say ‘but he loves it’... some people also love alcohol… doesn’t mean it’s good for them!!
I have heard from some of our clients of vets telling them not to throw balls for puppies, and preferably never to throw balls for them due to the physiological damage it can do. Hallelujah !!