Yours and your dog’s playtime probably includes playing fetch. As a dog owner you might perhaps think that throwing a ball for your dog to catch is just their favorite game, a game of fetch.
We can all agree that a game of fetch is a great way for dogs to release excess energy and exercise their muscles. It is also a wonderful time to bond with your dog. However, your best friend can develop obsessive behavior.
Chasing tennis balls, squeaky toys, frisbees, and other dog toys can become their number one interest and they may seem addicted to it.
If you suspect that you have a dog that is obsessed with balls, keep reading to find out if your dog is actually obsessed with the ball or if he just enjoys playing fetch, and how to solve the issue!
Why Is Your Dog Obsessed With Ball?
What could be the reason for your dog being obsessed with ball? Throwing a ball for your dog to catch evokes their hunting instinct. When we throw a ball, their instinctive behavior is to chase it, due to their stimuli that makes them chase.
In this way, they are training their muscles, instincts, and body power. When they catch a ball, they connect it with a prey that they are just about to eat. However, in today’s modern time, they don’t need to hunt in order to eat, so their ball is serving them as a kind of goal that they have to achieve. In this way, they want to repeat it over and over again to feel that kind of satisfaction again.
Whether you have a Chihuahua, Border Collie or a huge German Shepherd, you can expect to see a prey drive that manifests in their love for chasing a ball and playing fetch because a long time ago, dogs were hunters and they had to hunt in order to eat and survive.
However, you should bear in mind that hunting dog breeds and herding dog breeds are more likely to develop an obsession because they are trained to hunt and chase, and you may notice that these dog breeds have a bigger enthusiasm when waiting for a ball.
The obsessive behavior may start when you discard any red flags, thinking that your dog just adores playing with a ball when you see him all excited every time you throw a ball. However, this sign means that you should pay attention to your dog’s lifestyle, education, and routine.
How To Know If Your Dog Is Obsessed With Ball?
Game time is on! Your dog is very much excited that play time has come. But, excitement is one thing, and obsession is another. You should pay attention to your dog’s behavior in order to see any signs of obsession.
It is possible that you saw the signs at an early age but you discarded them as you didn’t think it was that serious. This alone can make it harder to solve now that the obsession has developed to a greater degree. However, we don’t want to discourage you. There is a way to help your dog.
Before we see how to help a dog obsessed with a ball, let’s see how you can recognize that your dog has developed obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Behavior problems that you may notice if your dog is obsessed with a ball are:
1. Tunnel Vision
This has to do with their fixation only on the ball. Whatever you do, your dog is not perceiving you and you can’t capture your dog’s attention at all.
If you are trying to shift his focus from the ball to you with commands, treats, and praise, and it isn’t working and they seem to look uninterested, there is something wrong. Why? Because they usually adore treats and approvals.
2. Severe Fixation
This is very important. Next time you schedule playtime with your friend, pay attention to their manners. If their only focus is on the ball and not on you and the ball at the same time, it’s highly possible that an obsession has occurred.
You may notice that they enter some kind of trance, and that their only fixation is on the ball, nothing but the ball. You can often see their bodies tighten up a bit. If they’re ignoring the environment around them, it is probably time you start “solving the problem”.
3. Protective Behavior
Another thing you should pay attention to is their attitude towards the ball. If they have developed an obsession, they’ll try to protect the ball with nipping, growling, and barking, but it is likely that they’ll take the ball wherever they decide to go, or they will hide it in their kennel.
4. Anxious Behavior
This is the clearest sign that your dog is developing obsessive behavior. If your dog starts to drool or whine when there is no ball with them, and when they see the ball in your hand, they desperately wait for you to throw it, it is visible that these actions are causing them stress.
In such cases, they may bark or tear things up around themselves to show disapproval and protest. If your dog is okay with you stopping the game, he is ready to relax and rest, and he doesn’t show signs of anxiety, then he’s fine. But, if he can’t spend a single moment without the ball, you know the deal.
You should also pay attention to your dog’s body language as it can show stress signals, such as lip licking, panting, and drooling.
Other behaviors you may notice if you have an obsessed dog are crying, tachycardia, excessive barking, and hyperactivity, which means that your dog will not stop even though they are thoroughly tired.
Now, let’s see what problems can occur due to their ball obsession.
4 Common Problems With Ball Obsession
Let’s examine 4 common problems with ball obsessed dogs, so we can stop these unwanted behaviors. A good start to help your dog is understanding what they’re going through. Only in that way can you approach the problem seriously.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Your pooch may be affected by stress and anxiety, and this is a serious problem. How does that manifest in dogs? Stress and anxiety usually develop in dogs that are alone at home for too long, or when they are in a new situation and they are not used to it.
Stress and anxiety with a ball obsessed dog develop whenever your furry friend doesn’t have a ball. It manifests in destructive behavior, whining, and most importantly, health problems.
As we mentioned above, dogs that are obsessed with a ball won’t care if they are too tired to play. They just don’t want to end the playtime. This can lead to exhaustion and overstrain.
As highly intelligent animals, they know when it’s time for them to stop, but when obsession is present, the connection between the mind and body is absent. This can lead to injuries or unconsciousness.
3. Aggressive Behavior
This problem is a serious matter. We all know that dogs are loyal to their owners, but what happens when they are loyal to a ball? As they are very protective of us, the things they will do for their number one interest are imaginable.
They can become aggressive towards anyone that tries to touch the ball, surely you don’t want that to be you, another dog, or a child. You don’t want to find yourself in a dog park where your dog is being aggressive to a child that just wanted to play with a pup. You don’t want to witness any type of injuries, so this behavior needs to end.
The problem with a dog obsessed with a ball, is that their focus is on the ball and the ball only. This can be an issue when you are playing with your dog outside your home.
An obsessed dog is not aware of his surroundings and he doesn’t pay attention to anything besides the ball. They will go for a ball anywhere, because they are in some kind of trance, no matter what the consequences are, and this alone can cause accidents of a serious manner.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Being Obsessed With A Ball?
Now that you have learned what is hiding behind the ball obsession, you can take action to cut out any unwanted behavior in your OCD-like dog.
In order to help your dog’s obsession, you must dedicate time to and have patience with your companion. Your dog will need strong training and a firm owner that won’t give up on him.
1. New Toys
A great start to help your dog not to think about the ball they’re obsessed with, is to get him a completely different dog toy. What does this mean? It means you should choose something that is very unlikely to be similar to a ball, like a different shape, texture, color, etc.
Do this from time to time, giving your dog sometimes a ball, sometimes a new toy, in this way, swapping out different toys and recycling them, will prevent your dog from focusing only on one.
2. Solid Commands
This solution requires a firm character. You should teach your dog the way in which he needs to behave, so for example, choose to present your commands in a game of fetch.
Your dog needs to know that you are the boss and in charge of the ball. For example, when you decide to end the playtime you can say something like “game over”, in this way, you’re showing him that you are in control and that he must listen to you.
If you don’t have discipline over your dog, it may be a bit difficult in the beggining for your dog to adjust to your new commands, but it is necessary. It is also important that you keep eye contact, and every time your dog drops the ball, you need to come up with a bunch of positive reinforcements.
This way, your dog will associate positivity with dropping the ball, and he will not be so fixated on it. You can also try impulse control games, in which your dog will learn to control his impulses.
3. Limited Access To The Ball
This sounds cruel, like taking a pacifier away from your baby, but it is needed. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw the ball in the garbage, but hide it so it is not in sight and your dog can’t reach it.
If you limit access to the ball, there is a high possibility that your dog will slowly start forgetting about it. At first, your puppy will have problems adjusting to the fact that there is no ball in his presence, and you can expect to see your dog crying, barking, and whining.
However, over time, they’ll get used to it.
Another great way for your dog to forget about the ball is exercise. If you are a fan of running, make sure that you bring your dog with you, because this will tire the dog, and he’ll need relaxation and won’t have time to think about the ball.
His mind won’t be on his favorite ball all the time because he will become his owner’s personal jogging guide!
5. Organized Play Time
In order to help with your dog’s obsession, you should thoroughly organize play time. This way, your dog can have their time with their favorite ball, but you can structure the play in a proper way.
The dog will learn that they don’t need to go crazy about the ball, and that they’ll have their time with the ball tomorrow. This provides your dog some kind of comfort and they can look forward to their next play time, without obsessing over it.
It is important that you stick to this routine in order to achieve the effect you want. Make sure not to miss a day with this newly structured play time.
6. Dog Training
The last option for this unwanted behavior is take your dog to a dog trainer. Who better to teach your dog behavior than someone who specializes in it?
If your dog’s behavior is obsessive compulsive behavior, your dog can go to dog training in order to learn how to behave, and to stave off his obsession with the ball.
During training, dog trainers should pay attention to physical and mental stimulation like sports, activities, games, new toys, etc.
What Are The Dangers Of My Dog Being Obsessed With A Ball?
Your dog can enter a trance where their only focus is on the ball. Therefore, he could run onto a street with cars without even noticing, causing serious accidents.
Aside from that, your dog can become very aggressive towards anyone that tries to touch the ball, that could be you, someone’s child, or another dog.
The dog can also exhaust himself to such a degree that they don’t take a break or drink water.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Is Obsessed With A Toy?
When a dog is obsessed with a toy, it means their favorite toy is the only toy they want to play with. If you don’t give them their favorite toy, they can become very stressed,anxious, and even aggressive.
Their only source of happiness is playtime with their favorite toy. That’s why it’s important to have a structured playtime with a bunch of new toys.
To Wrap It Up
This obsessive behavior is very common in many dog breeds and usually the owners are not aware of the signs that are in front of their noses.
A true dog owner cares about their dog, and he cares about the dog’s behavior. That’s why dog owners observe their dogs when playing to see if any resource guarding problems exist that they need to solve.
Whether you own a dog obsessed with balls or you are thinking of getting one, this article will help you through the process. The people who already have a dog can use the solutions provided, while others who are planning on getting a dog can use this as a reminder that this could happen and that they can prevent it from happening.
You probably don’t have to worry if your dog is only excited when playtime begins, but if your dog shows other issues, you know what you have to do.