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5 Ball-Playing Tips For You and Your Dog

Playing ball with your dog can be a very interactive and fun pass-time. Be it playing in your living room, garden or in the local park – it will get your dog fit and active and keep his mind stimulated.

1. Play with bright balls: Dogs don’t see colours very well, so it doesn’t matter very much what colours the balls are that your dog plays with, as long as they’re not green or red, colours which are hard for them to see. Also, they should be brightly colored rather than muted. Most of a dog’s vision comes from structures in the eyes called rod receptors. Rods are only sensitive to black and white. Brightly coloured balls stand out more against the background and are easier for dogs to see.

2. Throw balls across their line of sight: How many times have you tossed a ball right at your dog, only to watch him lose sight of it? There’s a reason for this. Dogs’ eyes are set farther apart than ours. They can easily see movement off to the sides, but they have a lot of trouble seeing things that are right in front of them. They’ll have more fun with balls when you toss them across their line of sight rather than right at them.

3. Set aside some throwing time: Some dogs are born chewers and will work over a ball as enthusiastically as they’ll splinter a stick. Most dogs, however, won’t even notice a ball that’s just sitting there. If you want your dog to get the most fun out of his ball, you have to set aside some time for throwing it.

4. Replace food with balls for dog training: Since dogs often go bananas for balls, you can use them as motivators when you’re doing basic training. Training with balls is actually better than training with food. Balls have no calories. They make it easy for dogs to get a lot of exercise. And they help dogs get used to watching your every move, which is essential when you’re teaching obedience.

Balls are especially useful for teaching the “come” command. This command is tricky because dogs who are playing and having a good time aren’t always paying attention to the person at the other end of the yard. When you’re holding a ball, however, you can be sure you’ll have your dog’s undivided attention.

5. Here is sample training technique using 2 balls: Hold one of the balls in your hand so that your dog can see it. When his eyes are riveted on you, tell him “come.” Wait until he comes and sits in front of you. Then throw the ball. Maybe he’ll bring it right back, and maybe he won’t. It doesn’t matter too much because you’ll be holding a second ball. He’ll want that one just as much as he did the first one. Tell him “come” again, have him sit, and then swap balls for another throw.

Dogs love this game because they get a chance to run, retrieve, and play with you. After a while, they’ll come running whenever they hear the word come, whether you’re holding a ball or not.

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My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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