Five Fun Ideas for Ball-Crazy Dogs
Balls are one of the most popular dog toys around. Not only do they help satisfy a dog’s instinct to chase, they make excellent training tools and provide hours of fun. But throwing balls to your dog in the backyard can grow old, even for the dog. Fortunately, there are many other activities you can do with your pup that involve ball play. From participating in a dog sport to engaging your dog in a ball game for people, here are five fun ideas to try with your ball-crazy dog.
#1 — Train for a ball-focused dog sport
Dog sports have become the craze for people seeking fun things to do with their dogs. For the ball-crazy hound, two sports in particular fit the bill: Flyball and Treibball. Flyball is a team sport that involves dogs racing relay-style on a course that includes jumping hurdles and catching a ball from a spring-loaded box. In Treibball, just you and your dog play the game, where the dog drives large exercise balls toward a goal, under your direction. Dogs of all breeds can participate in most dog sports, including Flyball and Treibball. Check your local dog training club for classes.
#2 — Introduce a new ball
All it takes to prevent boredom in some ball-crazy dogs is a new ball toy. If you visit a pet store or do an online search, you’ll quickly discover a variety of ball toys available for dogs. Today’s favorites include balls that wobble and make noise, ball puzzle toys that dispense treats, and glow-in-the-dark balls for nighttime fun. Of course, tennis balls are a popular, inexpensive option. Try tossing two or more of them during your next game of fetch to keep it interesting. Whenever introducing a new toy to your dog, make sure it’s the proper size, strength, and material to avoid injury or choking.
#3 — Practice skills using balls
Ball play is a good way to practice important skills with your dog–and not just retrieving. By teaching your dog to catch a ball in midair or drop balls into a bucket or through a mini basketball hoop, you can help him learn and fine-tune his coordination skills. You can also work on listening skills by scattering multiple balls on the floor and practicing “leave it” and “take it” on command. Keep training sessions fun by using different types of balls, offering variations on the tasks, rewarding success with praise and small treats, and keeping skills training sessions short.
#4 — Include your dog in a ball game for people
Ball-crazy dogs love all sorts of ball games, even (and sometimes especially) those designed for people. And there isn’t a shortage of people ball games that you can play with your dog. Try a variation of hide-and-seek, where you hide your dog’s favorite ball or balls and then set him loose to find them. Or, engage your dog in a one-on-one match of tetherball or in your next kickball, soccer, or baseball game. You can also practice tennis together, with your dog as the ball boy. Playing ball games with your dog provides fun and exercise for both of you.
#5 — Enlist another ball-crazy dog
Ball play can be doubly fun when your dog has another canine partner. Dogs can take turns catching the ball, chase balls together, or play tug of war with balls. Ball play with another dog offers socialization as well as plenty of exercise for all participants. When enlisting another dog in any kind of play, be sure the dogs are compatible and the interaction is healthy and good-natured. It’s important to supervise activity between two or more dogs, particularly if any of the dogs tends to get aggressive or territorial.
The above ideas will keep your ball-crazy dog happy, active, and stimulated. And what could be better for you than watching your dog having a ball?