Archive for June, 2009

Chasing Balls: Why dogs love it.

June 22, 2009

Hi, Nova again reporting for The Muttley Crew.

One of my favorite pastimes is playing fetch. I have the best time and it’s great exercise … not to mention the fun of spending quality time with whomever I am hanging out with. I am good at catching balls too.

Just thinking about playing fetch makes me smile a great big doggy smile!

Chasing balls just comes naturally to most dogs. For dogs, it’s instinctual to chase small things, and with domestication and  breeding it’s become instinctual to retrieve things for humans.

When dogs were still wolves, the fastest, quietest runners were the ones who were able to catch and eat small animals. These fast runners were the ones who were able to survive and reproduce. The result is an entire species with an instinct to run and chase.

Dogs don’t confuse a rubber ball with a rabbit or a squirrel, but the love of chasing has been deeply bred in. They once did it to survive, now they do it for fun. And boy… do they have fun!

When playing fetch with a dog make sure you use a brightly colored ball rather than one that has a muted tone. It makes it easier for them to see. The bright colors stand out better against a background.

Throw the ball in their line of sight. Dog’s eyes are farther apart than ours and see movement off to the side better than something thrown right at them, although some dogs–like me–can catch a ball that is tossed right at them.

Make sure the ball isn’t too large or too small.  If it’s too big, they can’t get a good grip on it. Tennis balls are great, not only for size, but they have a fuzzy outside that makes it easier to latch onto. At our shop we also use racket balls. They are smaller than tennis balls and slightly squishier. Even the smaller dogs can play fetch with them!

Jeff here, the owner/operator of The Muttley Crew with a personal comment. I learned just recently that tennis balls made exclusively for pets can  contain extremely high amounts of lead. It’s in the paint and isn’t control by  any government agency. Most of these pet tennis balls are made in China. The worst offenders are labeled with *big box* retailer names.

So the dogs are being exposed to high lead content every time they put a tennis ball in their mouths. If your dog chews on these tennis balls, it’s even worse.

We here at The Muttley Crew only use  tennis balls made in the U.S.  in our daycare , so rest assured that we are doing our part.

If a ball is too small it can become a choking hazard. Some dogs will will try and swallow the entire ball or they will chew the ball into pieces and swallow these.  Always pay attention when playing with any sort of toy with your dog. Never leave your dog alone with a toy unless you are sure they can not or will not destroy the toy.

Have fun and until next time, this is Nova, signing off.