Why Do Dogs Like Tennis Balls?

If my dog could choose between a tennis ball and a treat I wave in his face, he always goes for the ball. Its like my dog is obsessed with tennis balls, but why is this? Well, I didnt know, so decided to find out why some dogs love tennis balls so much.

Dogs love tennis balls for a myriad of different reasons, all of which can vary in interesting ways. (Image via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-swimming-dog-water-swimming-3694206/)However, despite these differences, there are a few main reasons why dogs love tennis balls in general these we will explore later.

Similar to humans, dogs can quickly become obsessed with things they enjoy or like whether this is food, treats, toys, or even people. Instead of being taught how to hunt, puppies were born with these instinctual behaviors already ingrained into their psyches, quickly becoming proficient and skilled hunters as they grew into adulthood. One change, now present in most domesticated dogs, was responsible for watering-down their instinctual drive and almost entirely removing their behavior of biting and killing prey they have caught.

In a world in which most dogs no longer have prey to chase, tennis balls and other toys have essentially become a substitute for wild animals. Although throwing a tennis ball for a dog to fetch is completely harmless, the main concern centers around whether they should be allowed to use them as chew toys. This is because tennis balls are designed to withstand multiple bounces on hard surfaces and heavy hits by rackets.

Although the fuzz on a tennis ball might seem soft at first glance it can quickly wear down the enamel on a dogs teeth, especially after extensive chewing. A dog owner has implored fellow animal lovers to stop giving pets tennis balls after her Alsatian nearly choked to death on one. The ball became lodged in his throat, so Mr. Riley grabbed a car to take the beloved pet to an emergency care service in Bury.

Likewise, the materials and fuzz found in tennis balls can wreak havoc on a dogs intestines if ingested, causing blockages and other internal problems. However, it is worth mentioning that choking can happen with any sort of chew toy and is not just a problem related to tennis balls. For example, most pet stores sell balls and toys specifically designed so that they do not damage your dogs teeth or cause choking.

Not only that, fixations can often lead to disobedience, which can result in dogs not listening to commands and chasing balls into traffic or other dangerous situations. Anxiety can also cause issues, with certain dogs being unable to relax until you throw or retrieve their tennis ball. If your dog could list its favorite things in life, chances are chasing and chewing tennis balls would be pretty close to the top.

Why are dogs obsessed with tennis balls?

The majority of dogs love tennis balls because they fulfill their predatory instincts to chase prey. … Historically, dogs in the wild had to rely on their strong instincts to survive. Regardless of their breed, all dogs would have utilized their predatory behaviors to help them catch prey and avoid starvation.

Should I let my dog chew tennis balls?

The problem is that dogs have strong jaws capable of compressing a tennis ball. If that compressed ball pops open in the back of the throat, it can cut off a dog’s air supply. … Tennis balls should always be put out of reach after a game of fetch, and no dog should ever be allowed to use them as a chew toy.

Are tennis balls good for dogs to play with?

Choking hazards aside, tennis balls pose another risk: dental wear and tear. … As your dog chomps on a tennis ball, the fuzz acts like sandpaper, gradually wearing down her teeth in a process called “blunting.” This can eventually lead to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp and difficulty chewing.

Do tennis balls damage a dog's teeth?

Tennis balls harm your dog’s teeth. Over time, this can lead to an extra (and completely avoidable!) wearing down of your dog’s teeth. Since many dog breeds are also prone to dental problems, there’s no reason why they should be exposed to unnecessary damage like this.

One of my dogs has a mild obsession with tennis balls but I was able to get her conditioned to play with a solid rubber ball. A solid rubber ball is easier on a dogs teeth. Her tennis ball obsession developed in the dog parks. In most dog parks the most common ball lying around is a tennis ball.

Tennis balls can prove a suffocation hazard so dogs should be supervised when playing with their favourite toy. In regards to why dogs love tennis balls, this is basically because playing with toys is a variation on the natural predatory sequence.

Over the generations of selective breeding, humans have enhanced or diminished different aspects of the predatory sequence (often explained as orient eye stalk chase grab/bite kill/bite consume). Most of the dog breeds that REALLY love tennis balls have hypertrophied (exaggerated) stalk chase grab/bite aspects of the sequence. Border Collies and shepherds are also bred to run out, collect stock animals, and bring them back to people.

Because their genetic wiring tells them to want to chase, collect, and return with something and humans love throwing tennis balls, this can easily grow into an obsession. Tennis balls, and the motor action patterns that are associated with playing fetch also provide excellent sensory input for dogs. The release of endorphins and other intrinsic chemicals makes the dog feel good, which reinforces the behavior and creates a positive association.

If your dog loves tennis balls, this means he associates them with play and fun, and will likely choose them over other toys in his toybox. Play toys such as tennis balls on the other hand due to the hairy texture and their erratic bounce and random movement mimic similar behavior as that of rodents.

It satisfies their instinctual urge to hunt something down and then pounce on it. Remember, wolves are powerful predators, and though we’ve bred most of that out of our cuddly friends, we can’t get all of it.

Tennis balls are the quintessential modern dog toy. My dog can sniff them out of roadside ditches, and nothing gives her as much joy as chasing after them in a wide open field. However, tennis balls are a special toy in our household, reserved for supervised playtime.

As your dog chomps on a tennis ball, the fuzz acts like sandpaper, gradually wearing down her teeth in a process called blunting. This can eventually lead to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp and difficulty chewing. Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian writing for VetStreet.com , advises keeping more than one tennis ball on hand for a continuous game of fetch, which can help keep your dog in shape, but cautions against allowing dogs access to more than one tennis ball at at a time.

Conclusion

If your dog could list its favorite things in life, chances are chasing and chewing tennis balls would be pretty close to the top. Just like going for walkie, chewing on toys, and eating treats, most dogs will go completely bonkers when it comes to playing with these fuzzy yellow balls.In fact, some owners even struggle to pick up a tennis ball without their pup reacting excitedly (heaven forbid if they open a new tin of balls ready for a tennis session).Hopefully now you know why it could be.

Does your dog love tennis balls?

It’s common for our canine companions to have an obsession with tennis balls.Tennis balls are one of the most popular toys for our four-legged friends.Whether they like to play fetch with a tennis ball or just have a good chew, they’re an essential toy for any pet owner.Tennis balls can prove a suffocation hazard so dogs should be supervised when playing with their favourite toy.In this article, we spoke to six experts to find out why dogs love tennis balls so much.

They’re Sending You A Message

A dog often loves a tennis ball because it is the most common ball that their owners take out for playtime.One of my dogs has a mild obsession with tennis balls but I was able to get her conditioned to play with a solid rubber ball. A solid rubber ball is easier on a dog’s teeth. Her tennis ball obsession developed in the dog parks. In most dog parks the most common ball lying around is a tennis ball.My dog, Goosey, often sends me daily messages that she wants me to play with the ball. She does this by sidling up to me, and every once in a while gently jumping on me. This is her “let’s play now” message!

Genetic Drives

In regards to why dogs love tennis balls, this is basically because playing with toys is a variation on the natural predatory sequence. Over the generations of selective breeding, humans have enhanced or diminished different aspects of the predatory sequence (often explained as orient – eye – stalk – chase – grab/bite – kill/bite – consume).Most of the dog breeds that REALLY love tennis balls have hypertrophied (exaggerated) stalk – chase – grab/bite aspects of the sequence. For example, retrievers and other gun dogs are bred to chase down fallen birds, grab them, and return them to people. Border Collies and shepherds are also bred to run out, collect stock animals, and bring them back to people.In both cases it’s surprisingly easy to “map” those genetic drives onto something easy for humans to throw. Because their genetic wiring tells them to want to chase, collect, and return with something and humans love throwing tennis balls, this can easily grow into an obsession.

Physiologic feedback

Tennis balls are an extremely popular toy for dogs, since many dogs enjoy playing with them. There are several reasons that your dog may love tennis balls so much.
One of the more common reasons that dogs love tennis balls is because they are associated with attention from the owner. Many dogs enjoy playing with their owner, and they may learn that tennis balls are a great way to initiate play and interaction.
Fetching/retrieving can also be what is referred to as a modal action pattern, which is a species-specific, genetic-like behavior that is not a learned behavior. Therefore, for breeds in which fetching is a natural/instinctive behavior, such as seen with the hunting breeds, chasing tennis balls may be a great outlet and expression of this behavior for that dog.
Tennis balls, and the motor action patterns that are associated with playing fetch also provide excellent sensory input for dogs. The release of endorphins and other intrinsic chemicals makes the dog feel good, which reinforces the behavior and creates a positive association.

Prey Drive

Dogs love tennis balls mostly due to the way you play with your dog and a tennis ball.Throwing a ball or rolling a ball across the floor taps into your dog’s natural prey drive and gets him excited and playful.Tennis balls have long been one of the most popular toys we can play with when it comes to playing fetch with our dogs, but other balls or toys that tap into your dog’s prey drive can have the same effect.The truth is, whichever toy you play with most with your dog and that he associates with a good time is sure to become his favorite.If your dog loves tennis balls, this means he associates them with play and fun, and will likely choose them over other toys in his toybox.

Hairy Texture Reminds Dogs Of Rodents

This behavior can be tracked down to their ancestors in the wild where they used to hunt rodents for food. Over time with urbanization and domestication most dogs do not have opportunities to act on this.Play toys such as tennis balls on the other hand due to the hairy texture and their erratic bounce and random movement mimic similar behavior as that of rodents.

Choking Hazard

My dog loves chomping on tennis balls until they pop. Dogs with powerful jaws like hers can easily break tennis balls in their mouths. This can lead to serious choking hazards. Sometimes, one-half of the tennis ball can get lodged in the back of their throats, blocking the airway. If this seems far-fetched, you may have heard that Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Retriever, Gracie, choked to death on a plastic ball.The ball itself is not the only choking risk. Some dogs enjoy shredding the yellow-green fuzz that surrounds the tennis ball. Eating this fuzz can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockages that could require surgery.

Dental Wear and Tear

Choking hazards aside, tennis balls pose another risk: dental wear and tear.That green fuzz might seem soft, but tennis balls are designed to withstand tennis courts and rackets. Dr. Thomas Chamberlain, a board-certified veterinary dental specialist, warns that the fuzz is actually quite abrasive, and accumulated dirt and sand increases the abrasive quality of the ball. As your dog chomps on a tennis ball, the fuzz acts like sandpaper, gradually wearing down her teeth in a process called “blunting.” This can eventually lead to dental problems such as exposed tooth pulp and difficulty chewing.