Correcting Ball-Obsessed Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers seem to have boundless energy. Read on to learn more about correcting your Lab’s obsessive behavior to preserve his mental health.

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If you are not up for an active lifestyle with your pet, a tireless Labrador Retriever may not be for you. By: crazymandi

Dogs have a built-in instinct to chase after things that move. Over years and years of domestication, dogs’ hunting drive has been watered down, and because of this, chasing (rather than killing) became fun.

My Labrador Retriever Is Ball-Obsessed

Like young children, Labs seem to have boundless energy.

If you’re not up to an active lifestyle, this breed may not be your best choice for a pet. Labs have been known to play fetch with their families for hours at a time.

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As we all know, other dog breeds are also mesmerized by toys that roll. Puppies learn to fetch, and then we reward them with treats and special attention. There’s nothing more rewarding to our canine pets than our attention.

My dog, Sweet Pea, who passed away this last summer, absolutely loved her ball. All it took was for her to simply hear the word “ball,” and she would begin searching the backyard and her dog house until she found it.

She loved to catch it in mid-air. She also wanted me to roll it so she could fetch it. I usually wore out long before she did. When we buried her after she had died, it just seemed right to bury her beloved ball by her side.

When Ball Obsession Becomes a Problem

“Too much ball fetching” is no big deal 99% of the time. But perhaps your Lab is stealing balls from other dogs.

If so, you must correct this behavior by commanding her to “leave it” and redirecting your dog’s attention. (If your dog does not sit on command, regardless of how many balls are flying in the air, work on this obedience lesson.)

If ball-stealing continues to be a problem, make sure there are no balls or toys around when your dog socializes with other dogs. Out of sight, out of mind. Many dog parks do not permit balls, Frisbees or other toys for this very reason.

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Further Training

On the slight chance that an extreme ball obsession is encroaching on your Lab’s mental well-being, try getting her to fetch and retrieve non-ball objects.

Watch these Labs fetch balls by swimming after them:

Set up an obstacle course in your yard by placing still objects for your pet to investigate. You can also make scent tracks, making her use her nose to find things she likes. Your Lab will get tired, but not overstressed, when she is getting stimulation through her senses (sight, scent and taste).

Strike a Good Balance

The key here is to find a balance between your dog’s physical exercise needs and her need for mental stimulation. These 2 things are crucial. They are also important pieces to having a dog that behaves in an acceptable manner.

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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