Why do dogs love tennis balls?

why do dogs love tennis balls

When I offer my dog a choice between a tennis ball and a tasty treat, he almost always goes for the ball. But why do dogs love tennis balls?

Well, one reason is that dogs have this built-in instinct to hunt and chase things. Tennis balls kind of tap into that instinct. Plus, the way the ball feels and acts, especially with its fuzzy surface, makes it seem like something to hunt when they chew on it.

So, why do dogs love playing with tennis balls? It’s all connected to how dogs evolved, how they think, and how they behave.


There are lots of reasons why dogs enjoy playing with tennis balls. But here’s the big question: Are tennis balls even good toys for dogs?


Now, let’s dive into the reasons behind dogs’ love for chewing and chasing those little yellow tennis balls. What makes these tennis balls so irresistible to our furry pals?

Could it be the texture, the bouncy way they move, or perhaps the bright yellow-green color that seems to captivate them?

At first glance, the answer might seem straightforward, but it’s more complicated than you might think.

Dogs adore tennis balls for various reasons, and each pup’s preference can be quite interesting. One dog might love them because they bounce high, while another might find joy in chewing on them as a favorite toy.

Despite these differences, there are a few main reasons why dogs generally love tennis balls, and we’ll explore those in a bit.

Now, there’s a question many pet owners ponder: Are tennis balls safe for dogs, or could they pose long-term health risks?

Some owners even consider banning tennis balls from their homes, especially after hearing concerns from others who see them as risky toys.

So, are these concerns valid? Do tennis balls harm dogs, or are they just old tales passed around?

Similar to us, humans, dogs can quickly become obsessed with things they enjoy, whether it’s food, treats, toys, or even people. This obsession can sometimes lead to challenges for both the owner and the furry friend.


Most dogs love tennis balls because they satisfy their instincts to be little hunters. To understand this better, let’s take a quick, but interesting, peek into the past.

Back in the day, when dogs were running wild, they had to rely on their strong instincts to stay alive. No matter what kind of dog they were, all dogs used their hunting instincts to catch food and avoid going hungry.

These hunting behaviors included looking, getting in the right position, sneaking up, chasing, grabbing, taking down, and breaking apart their prey. Without these instincts, dogs wouldn’t have made it in the wild.

What’s cool is that these behaviors weren’t something dogs learned; they just naturally developed them over a long, long time.

Baby dogs instinctively knew how to hunt, rather than being taught.

These skills were already in their brains, so as puppies grew up, they became really good hunters.

In modern times, people changed and adapted these behaviors in dogs, especially if they wanted them to work or be part of a family.

You can see this a lot in dog breeds that were originally bred for hunting or catching rats.

If you have a Rat Terrier or an English Setter, you might have noticed how much they love chasing after tennis balls or other things.

A big change in most dogs today happened because their instincts were toned down.

The way they used to catch, bite, and take down prey instinctively has almost completely disappeared.

This change made sure that working dogs could be safely used for herding sheep and other farm jobs.

Hunting dogs, for example, can bring back birds without hurting them, making it easier for their owners to focus on shooting.

In a world where most dogs don’t need to hunt anymore, tennis balls and other toys have become substitutes for wild animals.

The way these balls jump around and act all random is like imitating small animals such as rats or mice.

Also, think about the fuzzy surface of tennis balls. More than a regular rubber ball, this is enough to get a dog in the mood for hunting.

That unusual texture is also one of the reasons why dogs enjoy playing with toilet paper.


And that’s the biggest reason why dogs love tennis balls so much!


Even though dogs love tennis balls, the big question is: Is it safe for them to play with these bouncy toys?

The truth is, there are lots of different opinions on this. Some people think tennis balls are great dog toys, while others say a big no to them.

In many dog homes, tennis balls are a bit of a no-no, and more and more owners are choosing to only use them for their original game – fetching.

When it comes to throwing a tennis ball for your dog to fetch, that’s safe and fun. But, the main concern pops up when dogs use the ball as a chew toy.

Sadly, there’s proof that chewing on tennis balls can cause some wear and tear on dogs’ teeth. See, tennis balls are built to handle being smacked around on hard surfaces and hit by a tennis racket. Even though the fuzz on a tennis ball might seem soft, it can wear down a dog’s tooth enamel, especially with lots of chewing. This can lead to problems with your dog’s teeth as they grow older.

So, it’s a good idea not to let your dog use a tennis ball as a chew toy.

But hey, it’s perfectly fine to use it for a game of fetch now and then.

Another worry that many owners have is the chance of dogs choking on tennis balls. It’s super rare, but it has happened. Some dogs have even sadly passed away from it. The materials and fuzz on tennis balls can also mess with a dog’s insides if they swallow them, causing constipation and other issues.

But here’s the thing: choking can happen with any chew toy, not just tennis balls. With careful watching and being cautious, you can still safely throw tennis balls for your dog to chase.

If these worries are making you think twice about using tennis balls as toys, no worries! There are loads of alternatives out there. Most pet stores have balls and toys designed not to mess up your dog’s teeth or pose a choking risk.

You can easily find these online too. For example, there are balls made of natural rubber that are way better for your dog than a tennis ball.

Some of these special dog balls even have cool extra features. There’s one that holds treats, letting your dog satisfy their search and hunting instincts. Another is like a natural toothbrush – your dog can chew on it and take care of their teeth and gums at the same time. So, there are lots of safe and fun options out there for your furry friend!


Lots of dogs enjoy chasing and chewing on tennis balls. But if you notice that your dog is super fixated on them, it could become a bit of a problem.

Just like us, humans, dogs can develop habits that aren’t so great for their overall happiness.

Being obsessed with tennis balls might not seem like a big deal at first, but it can have more serious effects than you’d think.

For instance, dogs that love tennis balls can get possessive. They might growl and even bite other dogs or people, which could lead to some serious injuries.

Also, this kind of obsession often makes dogs not listen to commands. They might run after balls into traffic or other risky situations, and that’s not safe.

Anxiety can also be a problem. 

Some dogs can’t relax until you throw their tennis ball for them to fetch.

But here’s the good news: there are ways to help your dog overcome this obsession.

First off, setting up a routine for playing fetch with your dog can help control their behavior. If your dog knows there’s a certain time you’ll throw the ball each day, they might become less obsessed.

It’s also a smart move to put the tennis ball away when it’s not playtime. Store it somewhere out of sight and preferably high up or in a spot your dog can’t reach.

Introducing your dog to different kinds of toys can also help. Try out balls in various shapes, sizes, textures, and materials. You can even let them fetch a good old stick, which many dogs love.

Mixing it up with different toys during fetch games can make things more interesting for your pup.

Lastly, make sure your dog gets enough exercise. A tired dog is much less likely to get caught up in obsessive behavior than one full of energy. So, go for walks, play in the yard, or have a good old game of fetch – it’ll do wonders for your furry friend!


If your dog could create a list of favorite activities, chasing and chewing on tennis balls would likely be right at the very top.

Similar to walking, chewing on toys, and munching on treats, most dogs get super excited about playing with these bright yellow, fluffy balls.

Some owners even find it tricky to pick up a tennis ball without their dog getting all hyped up.

The main reasons for this enthusiasm come from dogs’ natural hunting instincts. It’s also because tennis balls have a feel that’s a bit like prey.

The wild and bouncy nature of the tennis ball triggers the dog’s instinctive behavior, making them think it’s potential prey. So, their playful and instinctive side kicks in!