Why do people like ball game

4 myths about playing ball

Some love it, others demonize it. But are the myths about ball games and the effects ball games are supposed to have on dogs really true? Today I have 4 myths for you that you will find around ball games in many corners of the internet.

1. Your dog becomes a hunter by playing ball!

Hunting behavior is perfectly normal for most dogs - even if I wish my dogs couldn't do anything with it. 😉 Hunting behavior has a genetic basis and can neither be turned on nor simply exhibited. No matter what. Through training, the dog can learn to become more cooperative and accessible. If you have a dog who has never heard of hunting behavior, be happy about it - but don't forget, this can still change because hunting behavior feels self-rewarding and your dog can still have this experience in contact with wild animals. But ball games will not turn your dog into a hunting dog!

A ball is not a rabbit.

Dogs are bad at generalizing - you will never mistake a rabbit for a ball. Most dogs I know can sit still when the ball is flying, but they don't show this behavior on game. You can withdraw from the food bowl, but not from the game. So why should that work the other way around? Why should ball games encourage hunting behavior when the dog knows when it's about the ball and when about game? This is a completely different context for dogs and since dogs always learn in context, they can distinguish very well.

Playing ball can even help you in anti-hunting training

The nice thing about playing with the ball is that the dog can live out the need for chasing, searching, lurking, shaking and the like on the ball - because normally no dog should do this on game. Suppressing needs is difficult and unhealthy in the long run. And hunting behavior is one of the most important needs for many dogs. That is why every dog ​​needs a room in which he can - at least partially - live it out. And it is certainly clear that no other animals are allowed to suffer for this. Therefore, replacement objects are needed and what is better suited than toys for them. Of course, not every dog ​​will want to use toys as replacements, but you can also build that up step by step with your dog. A dog that can meet its needs has a higher quality of life and experiences less frustration. Because frustration often leads to dogs becoming conspicuous and also less responsive.

Reading tip: Three mistakes when training on hunting behavior

2. Playing ball turns a dog into a ball junkie!

First of all, it is questionable whether a dog can become addicted to balls if we take the word ball junkie literally. Whether it is comparable to an addiction to narcotics as in humans is questionable. A so-called ball junkie is a dog who gets very excited when it comes to playing ball, just stares at the ball, is poorly responsive and cannot stop.

How to turn your dog into a ball junkie

The reason for this is not the ball game in general, but the HOW. How does a person play ball with the dog and, above all, HOW do they finish the game. A simple and logical explanation for the so-called ball junkies is a learned arousal. An excitement that the dog has associated with the ball (or other toy). The dog has fun playing ball, he feels good and can live out his need for running, retrieving, packing, shaking, carrying and the like. Usually the dog is pushed higher and higher in the game and signs of fatigue in the dog are overlooked. When it is most beautiful for the dog, the game is ended abruptly. The toy is packed up or the dog is chased because it does not want to hand over the toy and then in the worst case the dog is tricked and searches in vain for its ball.

Ball junkie through frustration

The abrupt end of the game creates a high level of frustration in the dog, which causes a very high and uncomfortable excitation in the dog's brain. This excitement brings stress and can trigger undesirable behaviors such as barking, jumping up, biting into the jacket sleeve and the like. And the dog becomes a ball junkie, because he connects the high and unpleasant excitement with what goes into his pocket - with the ball. Thanks to classic conditioning, the ball becomes a learned trigger for very high levels of excitement. Every time the ball appears again, the high level of excitement is triggered in the dog and since the game with the ball ends again abruptly, more and more high level of excitement is linked to the ball…. It is therefore important that you take your time exiting the game and that you never exit the game when your dog is still very excited. Before you pack the toy, your dog should ideally be relaxed and approachable.

DVD tip: The world is ball - ball junkies - behavior, causes & making the most of it by Dr. Ute Blaschke-Berthold

3. Playing ball makes dogs aggressive!

I can only say - No! It is not the ball game - he is responsible for it Dealing with the dog by humans and the well-being of the dog. And not just while playing the ball, but throughout everyday life.

If you play ball with your dog and that for as long as he can Pain and then your dog becomes uncomfortable and reacts aggressively due to the pain, you cannot blame ball play, because you are responsible for your dog and should choose activities and rewards so that your dog can feel comfortable. And it is up to you to recognize what is good for your dog and how much of it he needs and is allowed to have. Because of course the classic ball game with the quick stops is poison for the musculoskeletal system of many dogs. You shouldn't expect your dog to stop by itself if something hurts him - many dogs just keep going because it's too nice and he can forget the pain in the process. But hey - there are plenty of other things you can do with the ball and toys to keep your dog having fun.

Reading tip: Aggressive dog: this is how you can change that.

The main cause of aggressive behavior?

frustration is one of the main causes of aggressive behavior. Perhaps you even know this from yourself, as soon as something does not go the way you want it to, you become insufferable and grumble. I know that very well and the dogs are no different. Even my old cat was a prime example back then, when she was frustrated she wanted to beat up my cat. It is therefore important that playing ball and generally playing games is not associated with frustration for your dog, because it just always stops suddenly. The dog has to go through that and he has to endure it, that's a nice idea, but it quickly backfire with quickly frustrated dogs.

4. Ball games make the dog a barker!

A cruel idea - the dog barks at you because he finally wants his ball. Well, you can do that even without a ball and I'll repeat myself here too, because guilt is not the occupation, but your dealings with it and above all HOW you end it.

If your dog is enjoying ball games, he will have a hard time quitting, and then when it is over he will be frustrated. There are dogs who then quickly oil their vocal cords and who are stubborn. Often you then subconsciously intensify the barking through your attention or playing and sometimes you scold your dog - a vicious circle that does not stop your dog from barking. A slow end to the game and clear, friendly and relaxing rituals at the end of the game also help these dogs.


Ball games are allowed - but it depends on the implementation. It would be a real shame if you couldn't have fun with your dog just because ball games had such a bad reputation.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does my dog ​​want to play ball?
  2. How would he like to play with the ball?
  3. Does my dog ​​really want to play like that or is it more my idea of ​​play?
  4. Is my dog ​​physically up to the game?
  5. What other variants can I think of as to how I can play with my dog?
  6. How can I slowly end the game so my dog ​​can shut down before the game is over?

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About the author

Ulrike Seumel is a trainer for people with dogs, coach, author and founder of Dog It Right. With Dog It Right she accompanies people and their dog on their way to a happy and carefree life. You and your team train dog owners so that they know how to handle their dog. People should be able to recognize, understand and solve problems. They always train with the needs and strengths of humans and dogs.