Is fetch hurting your 4 legged friend?
Fetch 🐕🏐⚽ I've had quite a few discussions with clients recently about using fetch as a way of exercising dogs. I get why it's addictive for owners (I'll come on to the dogs in a bit!) 1. It's lovely to see your dog stretching their legs and running fast to return the ball for you (especially if they have been inside while you have been at work). You don't have to play long before they become sleepy pups. 2. It can be a magic tool when it comes to recall as this can be chosen over other dogs. Now... yup you've guessed it. Here's why I'm not its biggest fan. 1. Physically: - The dogs go from zero to blooming crazy fast with sometimes no warm up. Then this is repeated and repeated. The strain on the dogs muscles is intense. - spinning, skidding, stopping quickly, jumping at angles, jerky neck movements. The whole body is under strain again and again. 'the dog’s fore limbs are attached to the dog only by a group of muscles known as the thoracic sling' 2. Behaviourally and Mentally: - This sport gets addictive. It's high intensity and can be intrinsically rewarding for certain breeds who love to chase. You get an adreneline junkie.....which can then lead to low impulse control and high frustration levels. You may struggle to find that 'off switch' for your dog. - For certain breeds, let's take your Border Collie or herding breed, it's just darn right confusing. Their job is to control movement and to them the repetition of the 'sheep' (ball) getting loose results in a failed cycle of behaviour. Cue frustration. - It can develop into an OCD behaviour. Open grass/ field can become a cue for fetch. - If you are relying on a ball for a recall... Then you don't have a bomb-proof recall 🙊 Train a solid recall in low distraction first, then build up the distraction so you can call them away from dogs/birds/water etc. I am not saying don't ever play ball games. A lot of our training is based on play as you can create a fantastic bond between dog and owner this way as well as reliable behaviours. I try and stick to these rules: 1. Create rules around games. Create an environment where the dog can decrease arousal too. Calm = game begins. 2. Have an 'all done' cue. Ours is 'Go Harry' as in go potter... Harry Potter. 3. Change fetch to 'find it'. This will work your dog's nose and will tire them out just as much! It is low intensity and won't put any extra strain on their muscles. 4. Once they find it or win it.... Don't just take it. Switch it with something they like ie chicken or sausage. Teach a solid 'Out' or 'Drop'. This cue will mean they anticipate something else so will release toy. Give this blog I found a read below 👇 Please let me know your thoughts 💭 Elin https://bharcsblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/whats-all-the-fuss-about-fetch/