Dogs can become hyperactive, overly obsessed, and turn playtime into a never-ending game that sometimes brings out an overly excited and aggressive response. It’s important to show your dog that playtime is just that, PLAYTIME. It’s not a battle or a tug of war or time when your dog can be out of control. Your dog needs some structure and rules. Boundaries are important to let your know that it needs to have self-control and rely on you to start and end play time. An overly stimulated dog can end up accidentally hurting you or herself by jumping up for the ball before you throw it or grabbing a frisbee as you pick it up. If your dog is playing fetch with other dogs you don’t want a fight to break out.
Here’s a few tips to keep playtime fun and balanced:
1: Is your dog in a calm but alert state of mind before you throw the ball? Is she trying to grab it out of your hand? Jumping up? Or is she sitting and staring at the ball? Make sure she’s sitting and give you eye contact. This establishes control and your dog will know that the reward for her attention being on you is the ball.
2: What is your energy level like? Are you hyping up your dog by speaking in an upbeat, excited tone? Or are you using a calm tone? Make sure that you are using a calm tone that’s playful. You may need to practice this for a bit to make sure you have it down. Once you and your dog have this connection where she makes eye contact, and you control the excitement level, it’ll make ending playtime, going on walks, and making sure your dog listens to you improve as well.
3: Is your dog ball obsessed? If so, work on desensitizing her. Allow her to play with the ball at home in the yard without interaction from you. Let her carry it around, sit with it, or whatever she likes to do. At some point she will get bored and drop it. It helps over time to make the ball less enticing and not as much an object of worth as she thought or felt it was before. You may want to also introduce other toys so your dog understands that there are plenty of other toys out there to play with and the ball is just one of many.
4: Make play time not as high energy by taking your dog on a long walk or jog beforehand. Some of the pent up energy will have been spent sniffing, walking, and exploring the streets. She’ll have enough energy to play but won’t be as nutty as usual. This also helps condition your dog to know how to play and not run over and knock you down. Also try playing games with the ball or frisbee, such as hiding it and letting her find it or tossing it different ways so it’s not always a long pass. Take breaks and play with other toys as well. It’ll keep the play time fun, light, and help dissipate any obsession over one toy and break the mind from obsessing.