Stick & Ball Play

Playing with Your Dog

Who can resist a dog who places a ball at your feet and asks you to kick it? The joy dogs derive from such games is a delight to behold. The dog never tires of it and children especially derive huge pleasure from this joyful interaction. The level of concentration of some canine ball-addicts is amazing.

There are some hazards, however, which it is worthwhile to highlight.

  1. Dogs can become exhausted, not knowing when or how to stop. Children also may not be aware of this risk. Sensible supervision and timely intervention are required.
  2. Dogs can drive themselves into heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration or even heart failure, as they succumb to the excitement and enjoyment and fail to notice the warning signs.
  3. Collies in particular will extend themselves to extremes, in their attempts to reach a difficult ball or a high bounce. We have had several instances when a Collie has broken his back, making one final burst of effort at the top of a jump for a ball. Happily, acupuncture and homeopathy restored mobility, in each case but it was touch and go at the time.
  4. Sticks can be lethally dangerous. No matter how careful you are, the timing can go wrong and the flight of the stick and its bounce can go wrong, resulting in the dog impaling himself on a slanting stick. We have seen cases in which a stick has passed right through to the back of the neck, down the throat, through the cheek etc. There is probably no safe stick play. Dogs will pick them up and ask to play.

     Not for the faint-hearted: image of stick removed from mouth injury

  1. Stones can damage or even break teeth or they may be swallowed.

At the AVMC, we feel that dogs who cannot resist sticks should be left to carry the stick if they wish but that a stick should never be thrown.

As in all things, moderation is the name of the game. We have no wish to be kill-joys but feel that we have to pass on warnings, gleaned from hard (and sometimes tragic) experience. Dogs are generally playful and can enjoy other games, as an alternative to sticks.

Summer issues

Stick Injury