Ball games with an Australian Labradoodle: a good idea or not?

The Australian Labradoodle loves a challenge, both mentally and physically. He often enjoys doing things with his owner and loves games that allow him to use his intelligence, so you might think ball games would be right up his alley. But is that really the case?

Is that ball really that much fun?

As soon as you pick up a ball, your Labradoodle is already by your side, eagerly waiting for you to throw it. And before you know it, he's bouncing around, ready for the next round. You might think these are signs that your dog gets super excited about the ball. While that's true, all this excitement adds up. It leads to your dog losing control. Due to excitement and stress, he ends up overtaxing himself. And that doesn't make your dog happier!

The ball as an outlet

The Australian Labradoodle needs to be properly challenged both physically and mentally. This can be achieved through a good walk, combining distance with sniffing and exploring the surroundings. When the dog has a good outlet for both his physical and mental needs, there is more peace and relaxation in the house. It's often thought that chasing after a ball is the perfect way for a dog to blow off steam. But during this activity, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released, both stress hormones.

Addictive nature

There's another hormone released: dopamine. This hormone is all about reward and expectation. Every time you throw the ball, a rush of dopamine is released. This is addictive for dogs. The danger here is that your Australian Labradoodle will push past his own limits.

Physical exertion

The quick action that follows throwing the ball is also physically demanding for a dog. He has to suddenly stop and turn, followed by another quick action. Be extra careful with puppies, growing dogs, and seniors. And all dogs – regardless of age and condition – benefit from a good warm-up, such as a leisurely walk before they have to spring into action.

The right mental challenge

So, can you never throw a ball again? You can if you're vigilant. Provide your dog with clarity and boundaries, and perhaps throw the ball only occasionally. Also, ensure a good warm-up. Try ball games that challenge your dog in a better way. For example, consider hiding the ball, which also provides more mental stimulation. Want to teach your dog to fetch? You can use a training dummy instead of a ball. It doesn't roll away like a ball, so there's less physical strain.

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