Help! My Weimaraner Is Obsessed With The Ball!

General info, Health, Training

Help! My Weimaraner Dog Is Obsessed With The Ball!

Is my dog ball-obsessed? If you’re asking this same question your dog is probably exhibiting behavior that you’re concerned about. Maybe your pup would do anything for a chance to get the ball.

Maybe they bug you incessantly at home, taking a ball and bumping you with it. And because we love our dogs and would do anything for them, we usually fall for it and play fetch.

Our 16-month old Weimaraner Nelly loves to play fetch, it’s her favorite activity. She would let go of the ball when outside (she hasn’t quite learned ‘drop it’ yet but she will relinquish it in my hand) and usually she doesn’t mind other dogs playing with the ball.

Indoors it’s a whole another story, she won’t let go for anything. and continues chewing on it like a maniac. When bribed with a treat, she’s much more likely to try and eat it with the ball in her mouth than let go. If we come home from a walk and she sees me wash the ball, she’d lay by the door sniffing for her toy until she’s distracted by something else.

What’s strange is that she isn’t obsessed in this way with any of her other toys, just her ball. I’m pretty sure she would play fetch with it until she collapsed. After months of her exhibiting this behavior, I decided to research what could be causing her obsession and what I could do to lessen the issue.

But how to tell when simple want to play is an obsession?

What Are The Signs of Obsession?

Before we dive into ways to change your own dog’s behavior let’s look at some common signs your dog might be obsessed.

  • If your dog goes into a strange “trance-like state” when their favorite toy is around, their eyes glaze over and seemingly nothing else is important.
  • If It’s increasingly harder to get your dogs attention away from their toy with praise, walks, treats, or other rewards.
  • If they guard their ball or toy in public when around other dogs by growling or snapping at other dogs who try to play with them.
  • If they become anxious (panting, drooling, destroying things, etc.) when the ball is out of their reach.

Although most dogs have a favorite toy, when it begins to impact your or their life then it’s time to intervene. There are a few ways your dog’s obsession could become dangerous:

  • Without supervision, an obsessed dog may play themselves into exhaustion, not taking a break for water or to rest.
  • Your dog could be so focused on their toy that they run into things on the street or in the garden, injuring themselves.
  • They could react with aggression towards other dogs and people who come near their toy.

After researching these signs, I can see that Nelly doesn’t quite fit the definition of obsessed. When I put the ball away and distract her with a walk or a treat it works and she’s not actively looking for it. I usually take some water and a portable bowl with me (love these silicone collapsible ones at Amazon) and she has no problem stopping to drink water and also lay down and rest.

Although most likely a behavioral issue, there are also neurological conditions that can cause obsessive behaviors in dogs. If your dog has extreme tail-chasing then that could be due to epilepsy and could be seizure-related. Another thing to take into account is your dogs breed.

Golden and Labrador Retrievers are often obsessed with licking things, Bull Terriers and German Shepherds tend to spin around chasing their tails due to excitement more often than other breeds. Also if your dog is older, sudden development of obsessive behavior could be due to dementia. (source)

After extensive research, I discovered the good news that my dog’s ball obsession is most likely not permanent. There are things I’m able to do to help her. Here are some tips to help your own toy obsessed pup.

How Do I Stop The Obsessive Behavior?

Many people advise to just stop playing fetch with your pup. But don’t worry, I won’t tell you that.

Create a Routine

Ït’s very important to create a set routine for you and your dog to teach them that playtime is always going to be a part of their day and most importantly that it has a time limit, you can’t play all day.

Dogs that are toy obsessed often become anxious if they’re wondering all day when they will get to play with their favorite possession. Establishing a “playtime” every day at the same time will help to curb this anxiety.

Brain Training For Dogs

Change Up Toys

Ensure your dog doesn’t have the same toys all the time, changing their toys around can be beneficial for a toy obsessed dog. Swap the ball for frisbee or other fetch toys (like wooden dumbbells). Nelly loves to fetch this durable jute toy which we also use for tug of war (check the price at Amazon).

Put The Ball Away

The ball shouldn’t be easily accessible by the dog at any time. Only you control where and when it’s ball time. The best way to hide the ball is when your dog doesn’t see you. Some dogs can paw on doors, bark or whine at the place where the ball is at.

I have a wicker storage basket with a lid in my room and one day Nelly sniffed at the bottom of it and I didn’t know why. She laid in front of it and was looking at me like ‘auntie, do something’. So I investigated and found a brand new unused tennis ball that I didn’t even know was there. I guess it’s the famous Weimaraner nose!

Teach a Command

Teaching your dog a command for when playtime is over can also be very beneficial, for example, “all done”. Be consistent and use the same command every time playtime is over to reinforce that you are in charge.

Exercise

Make sure your pup gets enough exercise. When your dog is satisfied physically and mentally they will be less anxious. I can see it in Nelly, she’s way calmer after her 1 hour morning exercise and isn’t destructive or otherwise full of ideas.

Basic Obedience

Along with these tips, establishing solid obedience skills with your dog is important. All toy obsessed dogs will benefit from learning commands like “come” and “stay”. Training never stops when you own a dog.

It’s important to be aware that even when you don’t intend to, you’re teaching your dog certain behaviors, so make sure you’re consistent. Teaching your dog to leave objects when you say and drop things on command is also beneficial for toy obsessed dogs for obvious reasons.

If you’re looking for more ideas how to spend time with your pooch, I’ve written a post about just that!

Use Caution

A final thought is to be very careful at the beach or other open areas if you have a toy obsessed dog. My girl will swim only for a ball, but you don’t want your dog getting stuck in the ocean or getting lost trying to retrieve their favorite toy if they go too far. It can be quite frightening for the owner and dog if they get lost, so be observant at all times.

Conclusion

A pup with any type of obsession can seem cute at first but in the long run, it can be very stressful to both the dog and the owner. However, don’t worry too much if your dog is showing signs of obsession.

With time and training, you can change your dog’s mindset. If you follow the tips stated above and still your dog isn’t getting past their obsession then it is time to take them to a vet or animal behaviorist. Good luck!



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