Playing fetch is one of the oldest activities that we engage in with our dogs. A simple game of fetch allows for so much between a dog and their owner.
It allows for bonding, as well as some training of simple commands as well. Dogs love it because they get to spend time with their best friend and get some of their energy out while running around all over the place.
Traditionally, fetch is played with a ball, but have you ever questioned why? Or what is the best dog ball to play fetch with? We’ve got the answers to both of those questions and more!
Why Do Dogs Love Playing Fetch So Much?
When you throw a ball out into an open field, your dog probably takes off like an Olympic sprinter, happy to chase the ball for as long as it’ll roll, bringing it right back to you. But why do dogs love playing fetch so much? The answer can be found in their genetics and their instincts.
A Little Bit of Their Wild Side
Dogs weren’t always domesticated animals. Their roots can be traced back to common ancestors shared with wolves and modern wild dogs. This little peek into their ancestry answers part of the question as to why dogs love chasing down a ball with ferocity: their prey drive instinct.
Instinctively, when a dog sees something trying to escape them, they view it as prey. They’ll watch the ball intently as it sits in your hand, tracking its every move.
When you throw the ball, your dog will chase it down until they’ve captured it, sometimes pinning it to the ground and taking large chomps at it as if they’ve hunted it down. Fetching a tennis ball reminds them of their wilder lives.
As time has gone on, we’ve bred dogs to serve specific purposes, and one of those is hunting. Often, you’ll find that breeds that were originally meant for tracking, hunting, or retrieving will have a stronger instinct to hunt the ball that you’re throwing.
They get more excited about it than other breeds and can sometimes take it seriously rather than as a friendly game.
Dog Balls Display Prey Behavior
When you throw a ball, think for a moment about the way that it behaves once it’s hit the ground. Most times, they’ll bounce around in a random direction or pattern and never land in the same place twice. To your pooch, this looks like the same behavior that a wounded animal may exhibit in the wild while being hunted.
Acting as a predator to this prey, you’ve probably seen your dog shake a ball in their mouth or any one of their other toys. This mimics the “kill” of the prey. They’re making sure that their prey can’t escape them before bringing it back and presenting it to you, a member of their pack.
When you boil it all down, dogs treat fetch toys, including balls, like an animal that they’re hunting. This lets them show off a little bit of their wild side, allowing them to get rowdy in a manner that’s still very much domesticated. Playing fetch is a good exercise in letting your dog get in touch with its roots.
What To Look For in a Dog Ball
When you’re looking for your next dog ball for long games of fetch with your four-legged friend, it’s important that you keep in mind a few things.
A properly sized ball makes all the difference when you’re looking to play fetch with your furry friend. If it isn’t the right size, you run the risk of your pup choking or swallowing the ball on accident. When sizing a ball, it should be too big to fit completely in your dog’s mouth. This prevents it from traveling any further than it should when your dog scoops it up or chomps down on it.
Additionally, weight is a factor to keep in consideration. If a ball is too heavy, the ball could harm your pup if they’re hit by it while playing. If the ball is too light, it won’t be able to be thrown nearly as far as it should be. A good game of fetch relies on the ball being the right size for your four-legged friend.
Dog balls need to be made from materials that don’t pose any threats to your dog’s health. Generally, they should be made from durable materials that aren’t soft enough to tear through and aren’t hard enough to damage their teeth.
The material that the ball is made from also needs to be non-toxic. A dog doesn’t have to break or fully eat a material to suffer the effects from it. Low-quality materials that are harmful can leach into your pup through contact alone. Make sure that the dog ball you’re eyeing is made from FDA-approved materials and chemicals.
Believe it or not, your dog may have a style preference when it comes to their dog ball. They’re adept at noticing differences between materials and appearances. They’ll let you know when they have found a new favorite or when the ball they’re playing with just isn’t cutting it.
Let your dog tell you what their favorite ball is.
What’s the Best Dog Ball Available?
Time and time again, we find that the classics really stand the test of time. When choosing the best dog ball, we’ve come to find out that tennis balls are the best option. Dogs love them, and so do we, for a number of reasons.
Over time, tennis balls have improved, and there are now dog-specific tennis balls on the market. For the most part, they are the right size for all but the biggest dogs and can’t be swallowed whole. They’re also the right weight and won’t hurt your pooch if it happens to come down on top of them while they’re running to catch it.
These tennis balls are made from materials that are safe for your dog to chew on and won’t inadvertently harm your dog through chemicals. They’re durable, meaning that only after long-term abuse from your four-legged friend will they begin to fail. Most of the time, they’re made from rubber, too, meaning that they’ll bounce erratically, acting like prey for our pups.
What’s more is that they come in a variety of styles, from bare rubber balls to the traditional felt-covered versions we’re all so used to. It’s more than likely that there’s a tennis ball available in every color or style you can think of.
A Word of Caution About Tennis Balls
While they are undoubtedly the best dog ball for playing fetch, it should be mentioned that if a tennis ball is punctured, it can become a hazard to your pet. When punctured or torn, they can compress to a size that can be swallowed by most dogs, presenting a choking hazard. Once a ball is damaged and can be compressed, it should be retired.
Our dogs love playing fetch, and playing fetch with a tennis ball is the best way to do it. Tennis balls are just the right size and are made from safe materials for pups. Additionally, they have a bouncy tendency that dogs love because it makes them feel like they’re hunting prey.
When buying new dog balls to play fetch, be sure to pick up some dog-safe tennis balls, and your pooch will thank you.