Playing fetch with your dog builds trust, provides a strong reward for training and gives him the exercise he needs to stay healthy. No two dogs are alike, and the same can be said for fetch balls. Finding the right ball for you takes some effort, but is worth it.
In order to successfully play fetch, your dog must be able to pick up and carry the ball you use. This doesn’t mean the ball has to fit entirely in his mouth, but the dog should be able to run comfortably and safely while bringing the ball back. Size is also important in terms of ball visibility—if you play fetch by throwing your ball into a lake or river, for instance, a larger ball is easier to spot on the surface of the water. Pet stores should have a wide range of ball sizes on display.
Some dogs have powerful jaws that can crush a regular tennis ball in just a few play sessions. Some dogs like to chomp their fetch balls a few times before surrendering them. Others will simply carry the ball gently and return it to your feet. The best fetch ball for you is going to be the one that lasts the longest, so consider your dog’s chewing habits and jaw strength before you make a purchase. If you have a large, powerful breed, a thick rubber ball will give you the most bang for your buck.
You have several choices when it comes to the material composition of your ball. KONG products use industrial-grade rubber for the sake of durability. Tennis balls are made of lighter rubber and covered in felt. Think about the way in which you’ll most commonly use the ball and work from there. For example, tennis balls soak up water and get soggy if used in a lake, while high-bouncing rubber balls may not be best for a small dog park. Different ball types have their own individual pros and cons.
The weight of your fetch ball may not seem like an important factor, but you’ll be throwing this ball dozens of times every exercise session. Light balls are easy on your dog and easy on your arm, but don’t fly quite as far. Heavier balls provide longer trajectories, but are only useful if you trust your dog at great distances and have room for the throw. Products like the ChuckIt! give you the ability to heave a ball farther, but only if the ball is of a particular size and weight.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images