The brain bit
- Repetitive ball chasing can lead to prolonged adrenaline release.
- Cortisol release can lead to frustration, frantic behaviours and even be detrimental to long term health.
- A high drive dog with significant joint disease may continue to perform reward based tasks like ball chasing despite pain.
What about their joints?
- Repeated micro-trauma to muscles and cartilage is a cause of long-term damage.
- Chasing or even carrying items like a ball can shift your dogs weight distribution to their front legs, putting excessive weight through the joints of the front legs.
- Joints weakened by arthritis will be especially prone to further damage.
How about the muscles?
- Unpredictable actions such as breaking, twisting and landing can result in muscles being put under stresses they aren't designed for.
- High speeds can double the forces generated in the muscles.
- Braking is thought to be the most dangerous part of ball chasing and often responsible for shoulder injuries.
Things you can try instead
- Make sure to have a warm up period before more intense exercise.
- Only ever throw the ball a short distance, on surfaces that avoid slipping and sliding, throw below waist height so as to avoid jumping and don't do it repetitively.
- Consider alternatives like scent work, varying location of the walk to keep thing exciting or playing hide and seek with the ball rather than playing fetch.