Why Do Dogs Like To Play Fetch?
Aside from their love for tug of war, food and a lot of petting, another fun activity dogs love is chasing after objects in a game of fetch. A dog playing fetch can go on with it the whole day but it’s left for the owner to know their dog’s limitations. Playing fetch with your dog goes beyond exercising the dog but also helps you bond with your pet, amid training them. Though not all breeds are inclined to play fetch, a good number of them love the high-energy activity and we often wonder why. Besides, once a dog takes the first step after his birth, that instinct to chase things begins to build up. So, to help us answer the questions of why do dogs like balls and why do dogs like fetch, we will first highlight the lesser-known facts about these traits below.
First of all, playing the game of fetch comes naturally to dogs as most of them were bred and trained with that task in mind, which is certainly the case with Golden Retrievers, for example. As the name ‘Retriever’ suggests, the breed loves to retrieve items and there are also the hunting dogs who were used to hunt smaller bush animals back in the days. The latter is always hungry for things to bring back to the owner and a game of fetch is always a welcome sport.
Also, thousands of years ago, a lot of dogs were bred and trained with hunting in mind and were used to track down prey or retrieve the ones that have been killed. Additionally, the characteristics that push dogs to make a good fetch include their great sense of smell, high-energy, sharp instinct and tough teeth.
The High-Energy Involved in Playing Fetch
Probably because it requires a lot of energy which most dogs have in excess, playing fetch is always a good way your dog can exercise and born some of the excess energy it has. This is why you would hardly see a dog turn down a game of fetch.
They Live to Please
Dogs are naturally obedient and would do anything to please their owners. Accordingly, when you throw something away in their presence, they feel an urgent need to retrieve the item for you. In this case, the furry fellow not only wants to satisfy the owner but may also get the idea that you lost something and it is more than willing to help get it back. Yes, dogs are nice like that. The adorable part of the whole exercise is that no matter how many times you throw the object, dogs are ready to make the trip and retrieve the item.
Fetching Makes Them Feel Good
As a human, running makes you feel sort of high as the brain releases neurotransmitters and this process also takes place in dogs. When running and fetching, your dog can easily get hooked because the exercise makes him/her feel good. Little wonder why they don’t want to stop when they have their heads in the game.
Why Do Dogs Like Balls?
Inasmuch as different kinds of objects can be used to play fetch, balls always bring the best out of your furry friend. Balls are made to be sturdy, yet chewy and the small ones can easily fit between the jaws of your dog during a game of fetch. Also, because they bounce around and run fast, dogs can have a good time chasing after balls which is more fun for the animal. Ultimately, for a dog, chasing a rolling ball, especially one that bounces in different directions, is like chasing a rabbit or any other prey and this resonates with the animal’s natural tendency to hunt. With regards to this, they will feel accomplished while dropping the ‘prize’ at your feet when the task of retrieval has been completed.
Overall, using a ball while playing fetch with your dog is more fun and gives the animal a good exercise but not all balls are healthy for your dog. A sturdy and bouncy ball is recommended but a tennis ball can pop into the dog’s mouth if the grip becomes too tight. This might lead to choking. Again, the material used in making a tennis ball is not considered healthy for a dog to bite on. You might want to do proper research before choosing the best ball to play fetch with your dog.
How Safe Is Playing Fetch for My Dog?
Fetching items is typical dog behavior and since a lot of them enjoy the exercise, it is apparently good. Right from birth, a dog has the natural instinct to chase things and playing fetch is one of the ways to help it identify with nature. Also, a dog feels accomplished when it has retrieved an item for the owner and dropping the prize at your feet makes the animal very fulfilled.
Generally, fetching is good for your dog and there’s no reason to put a stop to it unless of course, it becomes dangerous to the health of the animal. Also, using the right objects to throw for your dog to catch is important since they are going to retrieve it with their mouth. Once you have settled on the right item to use and your dog is in good shape, then enjoy the fetching exercise with your dog because they really like it.
One problem, however, that comes with playing fetch with a dog is that they don’t know when to stop. They can keep the act up forever if you let them because they have the energy. It gets unhealthy when the weather is hot as your dog might get dehydrated or overheated. When you are playing fetch with your dog, always look out for signs that the animal has had enough. These signs might come in the form of heavy breathing, panting or when they just lie down on the ground. At this point, it’s time to drink some water and go home.
Additionally, while fetching releases good hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, they are only good in small doses. Large doses of these hormones can lead to stress in a dog. To get the best result from playing with your dog, keep tabs on his condition and know when to call it a day. It’s all about balance, give the furry guy a break when he/she needs it, otherwise, the natural instinct may compel them to keep playing.
Should I Be Worried If My Dog Doesn’t Play Fetch?
There is really no reason to be worried if your dog doesn’t like playing fetch. Depending on their breed, some animals may not love playing fetch while others will be smitten by it. If your dog doesn’t like playing fetch, it’s probably because its ancestors were not bred to retrieve things and the dog’s temperament might also have a hand in it.
Often times, your dog might not understand what you expect from it when a ball is thrown. While some will just stand and wonder what is going on, some others might chase the ball but won’t retrieve it for you. On special occasions, there could be some physical or health problems holding your dog back. A typical example is when puppies are teething; gripping items with their mouth might hurt. Likewise, older dogs with teeth or jaw problems may experience the same discomfort if they grip something with their teeth, thus, ruling out the game of fetch from their list. Additionally, if your dog has injuries, especially on the leg, chasing anything becomes painful and difficult.
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Meanwhile, if your dog used to like the game of fetch and suddenly doesn’t want to play, there may be trouble brewing. Aside from poor health, there are other reasons, including psychological, that may cause your dog to lose interest in playing the game of fetch.
Benefits of Playing Fetch With Your Dog
Dogs playing fetch is good for both parties. Your dog gets to have the time of its life and the exercise it needs while you also enjoy some part of the exercise which is very healthy. Also, the process of tossing a ball for your dog and getting it back is one way to spend quality time with your pet. It increases the chances of bonding between you and the animal.
In conclusion, the game of fetch is a good exercise for both you and your pet but don’t abuse the privilege. Always put the weather into consideration to be sure your dog remains healthy because extremely hot weather will spell doom for your dog if the chasing lingers for long. Drinking enough water before and after exercise is very important to stay hydrated. In all, there’s no need to stop playing fetch with your dog every once in a while, as long as it’s equal to the task.