Why do dogs play with balls?
The only thing in this world that makes sense are balls. I love them and with me are the vast majority of other dogs around our globe. Before we continue let me make it clear that I am talking about balls balls, not those other bouncy balls that males tend to have hanging underneath their butts. There are so many things regarding balls that just make sense… they are round (just like our tummy after a good meal), squeaky, bouncy and we are allowed to chew on them all the time.. or not?
Every day when I am out and about in the park, at the beach or in the forest, I love chasing balls. This round object being catapulted away from me is so extremely tempting that I need to chase it and hunt it down until I can taste it. For me as a Vizsla this is something that is embedded in my DNA but to be honest, every dog carries similar DNA that triggers some sense of hunting instinct, and therefore almost all dogs love balls.
Our hunting instinct
Why do we love balls and what does this have to do with our howling grumpy forefathers?
Well believe it or not but we were not always domesticated (some of us still are not, looking at the way they tend to behave, but that may be a subject for a future blog).
Back in the days, we were hunters using our predatory instincts to survive (sounds grewsome). These primal instincts may have blunted over the years. But, on a primary level, we still find the practice of eyeing, chasing, and catching to be a second nature. Some dogs might be mild-tempered in general, but one glance at a well-shaped juicy ball is enough to make it go mad… Now what is the reason for this phenomenon. You see, certain triggers invite our primary impulses. It is in our nature to stalk, chase and kill (destroy, exterminate, eradicate, slaughter) the ball. There is nothing else that mimics the desperate behavior of a prey better than a ball.
Say what?? Let me clarify this; when prey is hunted, it is in a panic mode. Its movements are irregular, jumpy and all over the place. By doing so, It tends to confuse the hunter and by doing so escape. Well not in my world! If my human throws a ball, it mimics the flight of a small prey. That ball is all over the place – fast, irregular, and petite. That is the main reason, us dogs will start bouncing up and down at the prospect of playing fetch.
Are all balls, balls?
Well yes and no… Of course all balls are balls, but they are not all considered to be good toys for us. There has been a lot of barking about what types are best for us to play with, chase and chew on. Let me start off with saying that in potential all balls may be considered “bad”, depending on what we do with them. In general “playing with a ball” means chasing, lightly chewing or tossing it around. Destroying and excessively chewing them is not really considered as playing and therefore this type of behavior can instigate a ball to become dangerous for our health.
All balls are made out of materials that we are not used to consume as food. Excessively chewing and eating them can cause these materials to end up in our intestines and cause internal problems. No one likes that but sometimes just chewing feels so good. Tend to watch this kind of behavior and practice on chewing your food before gulping it in (as some of us do..). Another health hazard that comes from chewing on them (a tennis ball in particular) is the wearing down of your teeth. Due to the combination of water, dirt, sand and the texture of the toy, these types of balls can become like sandpaper. Well no dog on earth likes to chew on sandpaper so please be careful chewing these buggers. In order for you to gain something for reading my ball infested blog (I counted 27 balls), I listed a few great products that may help you on your quest of finding the perfect round object to chase.
- Chuckit! Ultra Rubber Ball
- KONG Extreme Ball
- KONG Jumbler Ball
- ChuckIt! Breathe Right
- KONG Squeezz Ball
- JW Pet Hol-ee Roller
- Hartz Dura Play Ball Squeaky Latex
- SodaPup Crazy Bounce
- Chuckit! Ultra Squeaker Ball Tough