Monday, 10 March 2014

Ball Throwers & dogs with no ‘off switch'

As the Northern Beaches standout choice for dog minding and pet sitting – and of course being the Perfect Pet Sitter:-) I meet many, many different dogs -  all breeds, shapes and sizes. Yet as every dog owner knows, each has their own unique personality.

At one end of the spectrum there are those that love everyone they meet - to others that bond with just one person.

In the same way as personalities vary – so do energy levels. From calm and almost stately, to highly outgoing and very excitable.

It is within the latter you find dogs with no ‘Off Switch’. Puppies often fall into this type at first and can grow out of it, but some never do, even when fully mature.

Injuries and cuts are far more common with high energy dogs. Whilst rushing around they don’t see obstacles or sharp shells. They leap and twist in the air and often they are so engrossed in what they are doing that cuts or strains are not seen until you get home.

But more serious still are the types that get very obsessive about certain behaviours, for example running after balls launched by ball throwers. 

SAFE TO THROW  Amber (far right) Izzy (far left, was with her owner) Jack (front) & Maggie. Their owner throws ball 
Lots of dogs love chasing balls. Example, Jack, a cattle dog I’ve cared for many times. Jack is 8 years old  and he loves running after a ball and brings it back every time and drops it so you will throw it again. However, Jack is smart, and as he gets tired he takes longer and longer before he drops the ball. In effect he has learned how to self regulate to stop him overheating.

Left - Right Jack, Maggie, Izzy & Amber
Dogs love Curl Curl Lagoon (NSW)
More mature dogs like Jack have learned to control their behaviour, but some never develop an ‘Off Switch’ – effectively they become ‘Conditioned’.  They can go on to OCD around balls (Google: ‘operant conditioning’).

In hot weather in particular, I really worry when I see a dog constantly running after a ball being launched again and again. Any dog ( but especially those with thick coats and/or where there is no water to swim and cool off) are in serious danger of exhaustion or heat stroke because they literally will keep chasing that ball until they drop.

When I take the dogs in my care on our Adventure Walks I prefer they interact with other canines rather than simply run after a ball. So I take them to venues with smells, variations of landscape and other dogs to play with. 

Occasionally I will take the thrower with us, but rather in the way you wouldn’t give children chocolate all the time, I keep these times limited. And, I always keep in mind that I am the one who has to control the ‘Off Switch’ and limit the where, when and how often I throw that ball.

Which dogs should be insured? Ideally insure your dog – full stop. However, in the words of my vet in the UK when I didn’t have insurance cover for my big German Shorthaired Pointer:  “Always insure large, active and energetic breeds with short coats. Their energy means they plough into all sorts of places and their thin coats mean they get cuts far more easily than dogs with more dense coats”
(The only problem with that advice – I wish he’d told me earlier!!!)


  1. On this walk I met up with the owner of Izzy who I cared for last year and will be again this June (have blogged about cute 'Little Iz' previously). I had Amber with me, a lovely outgoing cross breed who is an example of a dog that loves the whole world and who I'm dog sitting again next week. At Curl Curl we bumped into Jack & Maggie with their owner, which is how we were all together. (Blogged about these two before and I'm caring from them
    again at Easter).

  2. My lovely dog Amber certainly does love the world Maralyn, and she definitely loves you too!! Thank you for mentioning her in your blog. I feel assured that she is in great hands whenever she is with you. Liza

  3. Thanks for those kind words Liza. Yes, your Amber is the embodiment of a dog that loves everyone as you say!


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