Dogs or at least most dogs will have some value for balls, some higher than other of course, but there is a real advantage to knowing how to play with a ball and select the right one to suit the goal you have.
The Balls we have in our store are great quality and I have listed a few of my favourites here but all of the Balls we have are here.
Training / Motivation
I use a ball on a rope for specific things, usually things where I with want pin point accuracy, such as a heel position or where I may want to reward the dog away from me (at the source) perhaps and then have the dog engage with me.
An example might be if I were training Nose Work and I want the dog to learn to locate target odours without handler help. This means I want the dog to work where I point him and the dog takes it from there.
When the dog alerts on the article I can toss in the ball. The dog is rewarded for the find but I then encourage the dog to bring the ball to me and we play tug. Hence the reason for the rope.
My ball of choice right now is the Euro Joe Super Ball. This is a very hard ball which promotes a solid grip, accurate targeting and no chewing. This is important if your dog does other things with his or her mouth such as dumbbell retrieval, bite work etc.
It’s a great ball as it is slippery and the dog must commit to holding it, an even slightly loose grip will see the ball pop out or me pop it out.
Before testing and moving to this one I was using the Swing and Fling Durafoam ball. I switched to the EJ Super Ball because my dog has a super hard bite and he can crush the Foam Ball. It doesn’t cause the ball to fail but he could self activate the ball by chewing if I let him.
If I am training a softer mouth dog I use an Orbee Ball on a rope, but most dogs will rock the Euro Joe Ball and it will last if you don’t let your dog use it as a chew toy.
The rope is essential for a number of reasons when using a ball for motivation / drive reward. I don’t like the dog to find the ball and playing with the ball more exciting than playing with me, so I use the rope to have the dog engage with me and the ball.
I can keep my hands out of the way and let the dog strike the ball hard without risk of my fingers getting bitten.
I find balls that are on ropes promote less possession / conflict issues.
Fetch / Retrieve / exercise style ball games
Whilst you can still use a ball on a rope for these, if you want a ball that you can throw far, will last and bounce well, the Ultra Balls are the world’s best. You stick one of these in the Launcher by the same company that makes the balls and you can drive the balls hundreds of metres with a flick of the wrist.
I have used many of the copies but the Genuine Chuck it Launcher has to be experienced!
The Chuckit Kick and Fetch Ball is something we mess around with when playing with our dogs, it is pretty tough and bounces well and there are places where the dog can grab it. It floats too and most dogs love them.
Another popular one here is the Holee Roller, it is like a big webbed ball that has nothing inside it. The means that it is a great, light weight toy that a dog can easily grip and carry, when your dog is near, you can grab it easy too and play tug.
We like to put the medium Holee Roller inside the XXL Holee Roller and have the dogs work on getting it out.
It is a real unsung hero I think as people don’t see this as an interesting toy, but you may be surprised how interesting your dog will find it.
It is great for puppies due to its light weight and a great toy to teach retrieve with for this reason.
The hard chewers are catered for with the Holee Molee Extreme which has very think rubber webbing. Great for putting food inside too like a chicken wing, and dishwasher safe means easy clean up.
For the dogs that like to play hard, the Jolly Eggs and the bigger version “The Scrambler” are bucket loads of fun. They are very hard to trap and chew and also very hard to pin down. Every time the dog goes to engage with these egg shaped toys they explode off in another direction at a million miles an hour.
There are a range of squeaker toys on our site, and if your dog loves squeakers, the iSqueak is a very popular ball. They are soft rubber that most dogs will bite without any concern, squeak loud and are good quality.
They are not a chew toy and if your dog chews on them they will likely fail.
They are made by JW Pet and they also make the Bad Cuz, Bad Other Cuz, Darwin the Frog, The Arachnoids Ball and Dexter the Elephant that also squeak but are more durable. They also have the Crackle Head Cuz and Crackle Ball that have a plastic bottle insert that drives dogs wild.
The dogs that like to retrieve food from toys will love Mazee, this is a great toy because the dog can see the food, it just can’t access it without figuring out the puzzle. This is one toy that keeps dogs engaged for a long time only using a small amount of food.
The Bob a lot is a great and robust food delivery toy that is also very good for games that last a long time. The dog kicks Bob and he bobs around tossing out food! The rate of delivery is also adjustable.
Note: The toys we have are selected toys from many manufacturers, we don’t have the full range of JW Pet for example as some of them we feel are not great value, whilst some are.
The toys (and products) we have are “fit for purpose“. This means they will fit the purpose they were intended for. If you buy a ball that is designed to be used in fetch, it will fail as a chew toy fast. This isn’t a reflection of the toy but the way you used it. I have another article here that may help. “The Indestructible dog toy“.
The toys we have for hard chewers, that fit the bill for this article ‘Balls”, are very dense balls that aren’t as “agile” as the other balls, but they can take a beating!
The most indestructible ball we have is the Goughnuts Ball, it comes with a replacement guarantee, your dog destroys this, ever, you get another one. If your dog destroys the next one, you get another one, forever.
We have never had a Goughnuts Ball returned…
The Jive, by Westpaw is also very tough and has a onetime replacement guarantee, made from Zogoflex it floats and can take a hammering.
Both of these toys are not indestructible, but they are super tough and no risk toys as they have an unconditional guarantee.
We could make a ball so hard that no dog could chew it, but then there would be two possible outcomes, one is the dog would have no interest in it, the other would be a dog with a lot of tooth damage.
Some dogs, as I mentioned in my article like to shred toys, and strip them down. This is the way they enjoy the toy, give them one that they cannot manipulate in any way, and they will either get frantic trying or give up.
Many dogs in my training program have been trained in precision heel work using a ball, some pet dogs I work with are kept balance and fit using a ball. Teaching your young dog to enjoy playing with balls is a very good way to build engagement with your dog and this can either be a fun past time right through to a world class competition dog.
Don’t underestimate the power of what you can achieve through ball play with your dog!
I know there will be people out their itching to write straight back telling me how their dog chews up any toy. We welcome all feedback but before you jump on the keyboard, in my role as a Behaviourist, I have been brought dogs that will chew up lucky stones, bricks and concrete. These dogs are verging on or have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
These dogs aren’t just super dogs, in fact there is normally an underlying behaviour problem when dogs annihilate toys.
I have been training dogs in bite work for over 25 years, my dogs have grips that will crush bones but they don’t destroy toys. Drive imbalance in a dog often occurs in adolescence and the dogs compulsively chew things to try and achieve balance.
These dogs would be better taught how to use their drive effectively rather than stripping and trapping toys and labelled super chewers.
Here is a short clip of me playing with my dog Venom, nothing special 🙂