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A Sniff Of Success - For Them And Us

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

One of the first things we’re ever told about dogs is that they need exercise. ‘A tired dog is a happy dog’ is a common saying. While this is true to an extent, it can lead to guardians feeling they need to take their dogs out and run them until they’re all puffed out. Often this may involve a ball launcher, designed to throw a ball further and faster with less effort.

The truth is, we don’t need ball launchers to tire our dogs. Even the high drive, high energy breeds we so often see waiting poised for lift off don’t need those repeated runs after a tennis ball launched into the middle distance. I’m not saying we should ban fetch, but that we should think carefully as the truth is it can become all consuming.

Many dogs will be happy with a few chases of the ball from time to time, but for others it can lead to them becoming obsessed, wanting ever more, more, MORE! The more we repeat this cycle, the more the dog needs to exhaust them to that same degree.

Consider how human athletes in many sports increase their fitness levels. Often it involves shuttle runs, sprints from one point to another and back again. The more they do this, the more their fitness increases. It works exactly the same in dogs. The more of these runs the dog does, the fitter they become.

They turn into canine athletes, able to do more and for longer. Rather than simply tiring the dog out, the amount they will need in future is actually increasing. Their arousal levels skyrocket as they have the excitement of chasing the ball, over and over again. Feel good chemicals are released in their brain, lighting up the brain’s internal reward centre. It can easily become an obsession, almost an addiction.

Repeated fast runs after a ball can also carry high injury risks and the development of joint problems. A flat out run followed by slamming on the brakes to grab the ball puts massive amounts of pressure on joints, as do rapid turns. Jumping up to catch a ball can result in an awkward landing and accompanying injuries.