Throwing games: why should you avoid them and what to do instead?

Throwing a ball to your dog is a popular way to play. Nevertheless, throwing games are best avoided. Here are the reasons...

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Throwing a ball (or a stick) to your dog is certainly the most widespread, simplest and most observed way of playing for the master/dog pair. Nevertheless, today I suggest you find out why it is better to avoid throwing game sessions and especially what to do instead.

Why avoid throwing games?

Tossing games strengthen dogs' instinct to chase

Throwing a ball or a stick at your dog teaches him how to pursue prey. In fact, if your dog is already used to running after small (or big) game in the forest, after cats, birds (yes, my dog loves to run after birds), bicycles, cars or joggers , you reinforce this (bad) behavior by playing throwing games with him.

They do not promote the strengthening of the master/dog relationship

Playing with your dog should have the main objective of strengthening the interspecific relationship that binds the pair. And clearly, throwing a toy as far as possible from you is not really in line with this principle of relationship building

Indeed, by playing throwing games, you teach your dog more that the "pleasure" is far from you because it is validated mainly by catching the thrown toy, and therefore only takes pleasure when 'he is very far from you.

These games are “dumb”, in the sense that they have no educational scope

By throwing a toy at your dog, you don't teach him anything. At best, you simply teach him to bring the toy back, but this is clearly not enough. It is for this reason that I am giving you just after all alternatives to play ball, but otherwise.

They generate rapid, intense and often uncontrollable excitement in dogs

Finally, the major problem with throwing games is that they excite dogs enormously, very quickly and very intensely. You can't really go crescendo when playing fetch with your dog because he's often obsessed with the ball and gets very excited very quickly. Sometimes it is very difficult to stop the game and ask your dog to calm down.

Play ball with your dog, but differently

If you don't completely ban throwing games, you can make them more interesting, more educational and play differently with your dog, even keeping the principle of playing with a ball. Here are some examples:

Tugging games

With a ball attached to a rope or string (to make the grip easier for you), don't hesitate to play tugging games to work on your dog's self-controls.

So, while keeping the toy in your hand, invite your dog to catch the ball. Have a curved posture, a high-pitched, enthusiastic voice and make circular movements with the toy, as close to the ground as possible.

After a few seconds (the arousal phase should not last too long), stand up straight and say “stop” or “let go” with a firm tone and without pulling on the toy. Try to stay as stable and still as possible. As soon as your dog has let go of the toy, wait for him to calm down a bit, sit down and repeat the exercise.

This game allows you to expend your dog, strengthen your relationship, teach him self-control and above all to give up to win.

Waiting before picking up

You can also teach your dog to wait while you toss the toy and only go to retrieve it when you ask him.

This requires long and tedious work that highlights the notion of statics, with great stimulation.

This learning must therefore be very gradual so as not to put the dog in a situation of failure. Indeed, at the beginning you hardly throw the toy, just let it fall at your feet without your dog rushing on it, then gradually increase the throwing distance.

Of course, to play like this, your dog must have acquired the “not to move” beforehand, without any distraction. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for him to maintain a moving step while his favorite toy is thrown even right next to him.

The “stop” in the middle of a race

To go further and work on the notions of renunciation and self-control, you can also teach your dog to stop while running towards his toy.

It's a great way to keep control over your dog. This game can indeed be a very good learning tool to be able to call your dog back in everyday life if he is running behind a bicycle, a car, game or other.

Here, the “stop” must of course be acquired already at 100% without any distraction. Do not hesitate to start this learning when you work on walking on a leash for example.

The search games

It's a game that, personally, I love to play with my dogs. Out of sight, I hide their favorite toys (often Kong balls) in the garden and then ask them to find them. At first, you have to help them a little, guide them, but afterwards they quickly understand what they have to do and clearly take pleasure in using their flair to find their treasure.

The Treibball

Then, finally a game that meets the needs of dogs that are completely "mad" about the ball, namely: sheepdogs! Personally, I have never met a sheepdog that is not obsessed with the ball!

Thus, this discipline, which ultimately resembles a giant football, is particularly intended for sheepdogs with a marked but untapped instinct for grouping.The goal of treibball is therefore to bring as many big balls into the goal as possible, in a minimum of time.

To find out more, I also invite you to read our article on the games to favor and those to avoid with your dog.

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