Balls like the chuck it ball can be a great motivator for dogs

Motivator: Chuck It Ball. What works for your dog?

Balls like the chuck it ball can be a great motivator for dogs

Buzz and his favorite chuck-it ball share a special kind of bond which has developed over the past 2 years (he is 4.5 years old now). He began to be interested in balls & frisbees when he was several months old, but it actually took him quite some time to get the whole fetch thing…which he has now mastered! He catches 99% of all balls thrown his way, and can do some crazy jumps in order to get to his ball. 

Playing Fetch With The Chuck-It Ball

Playing fetch is Buzz’s number one way of exercising. We play fetch several times throughout the day in our yard – after our morning walk, when I come home from my dog walking visits in the afternoon (I’m a dog walker), and again in the evening (& whenever else we can fit it into our daily schedule, really).

I’m actually glad that Buzz prefers the natural rubber chuck-it ball over tennis balls because of the slime factor…you’ll see what I mean in the video below (if you have a K9 fetch addict, you know what I mean).

The chuck-it ball can be washed off and dried after having been used and will look brand new again (I go through that quick procedure before bringing the ball back inside)!

Besides being a wonderful means of exercise, I’ve been able to use the chuck-it ball for several other purposes.Training Off-Leash Skills With The BallWe quickly figured out that Buzz is kind of one-track minded as far as his ball is concerned. My husband brought him along to his football practice a few months ago and was able to let him run off-leash and play fetch with him no problem. All Buzz wanted to do was run after the ball, bring it back to Ian, and wait for him to throw it again.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

We would never be able to do this with Missy, however – while her polite off-leash walking skills have improved tremendously with the use of a Ruffwear backpack, she loves to explore way too much in order to be trusted on an open field such as the one in the video.

I wrote about working on Missy’s off-leash skills last week: The Key to Polite Off-Leash Walking: A Valuable Lesson Learned

Buzz also gets to come along on my daily trips to the mailbox – off-leash, focusing on his chuck-it ball. Missy also gets to come along every now & then, but is secured to a 50 ft leash that’s attached to a front porch column.

She’s never tried to take off while on the long leash, but I’m not willing to chance it. She’d be the first to go chasing after a squirrel or cat within her sight.

You can see her being motivated by Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews to stay next to Ian while getting the mail in the video below.Getting Buzz To Swim

Missy & Buzz poolside at the RiverBark Pet Resort in Spring Lake, NC

Buzz’s sister Missy loves the water as much as Buzz loves his chuck-it ball. Buzz, on the other hand, didn’t use to be a fan of that wet stuff…until the day his ball ended up in a doggie pool, and he didn’t think twice about going after it to retrieve it.


Side note: Another benefit of the chuck-it ball is that is floats 🙂

Bottom Line

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make in this post: Every dog has a different motivator. Some dogs will do anything for a high-value treat, some are in love with a frisbee or ball, and others anticipate a nice belly or chest rub after a job well done.

Finding out what motivates your dog(s) will make training less frustrating and more fun, and the bond between you strongerWhat’s your pup’s all-time favorite motivator? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!
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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






18 responses to “Motivator: Chuck It Ball. What works for your dog?”

  1. DZ DogAdventures Avatar

    Ziva is exactly the same way! She will take a tennis ball over any treat in the world! I had to get creative about incorporating it into certain training exercises, and it has helped immensly with getting her attention back on me when she starts to be reactive towards certain dogs.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yay, I’m thrilled to hear that someone else has a ball-crazy pup!!! Very cool that you’ve been able to work on Ziva’s dog reactivity with a ball – I used the chuck-it ball for JUST THAT yesterday morning.

      Buzz can get dog reactive every now and then, and we came past a neighbor who was out walking his dog – the dog started to lunge and bark his butt off when he saw Missy & Buzz, which made me pull out the ball from my pocket in a split-second and showed it to Buzz.

      The moment Buzz saw the ball in my hands, he had eyes for nothing else and couldn’t have cared less about the other dog. Phenomenal what a toy can do.

  2. Tenacious Little Terrier Avatar
    Tenacious Little Terrier

    Mr. N is a food dog. He’d love it more if he could work for a squirrel in my pocket.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      HA! What a fantastic idea, lol! Missy is our squirrel chaser, so she’d love the squirrel-in-a-pocket scenario as much as Mr. N!

  3. Jessica Rhae Avatar
    Jessica Rhae

    Gretel will do anything even if it’s a low-value treat. Ha, ha. Nothing else really motivates her. She gets so nuts around food it actually makes it hard to train though. I pretty much get one, maybe two, tries on the command and then she won’t do anything but look at me for a treat.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      It sounds like Gretel gets as crazy around food as Buzz gets around his ball! Isn’t it very interesting how all dogs are different?? Gretel would probably be really good at finding treats inside boxes and in other hiding spots!

      1. Jessica Rhae Avatar
        Jessica Rhae

        She is. We’ve dabbled in nosework but I don’t have the time or dedication for something official. Sometimes though, I wrap a few treats in a blanket and toss it on the floor. She sniffs for them so hard that I can hear her across the room!

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          I’ve also been wanting to take another dog class – lure coursing or nose work both sound interesting to me – but since starting my own dog walking/pet sitting business and working many weekends, I currently also don’t have the time needed.

          I think it’s a great mental exercise to have a pup sniff out food at home – especially on those rainy days!

  4. Beth Avatar

    Barley is really only motivated by food. It doesn’t have to be high value–she’ll eat frozen veggies (although sometimes she gets bored of those and wants something more exciting, but until she realizes it’s health food, she’ll do anything for them).

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      BOL, Barley sounds like Missy – she’s a dedicated slave to her stomach and will eat anything she can get her paws on.

  5. Emma Avatar

    Ball motivated dogs can be a bit easier to train it seems, but none of us are that motivated by toys of any kind. Bailie does do pretty well if her squeaky ball is along and Mom squeaks it, but the hassle of carrying it all the time means it stays home most of the time. Looks like you have made some great advances with a ball.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yes, I have the same feeling…I wish Missy was as ball crazy as her brother. She’ll play with one for a few moments, but she couldn’t care less about fetch. Well, actually every now & then she’ll catch a ball that’s thrown her way, but then she’ll take off with it the opposite way and drop it at some point. Oh well – I suppose it would be boring if all dogs would be ball motivated. Missy girl is my training challenge 😉

  6. Hailey's Lady Avatar
    Hailey’s Lady

    Phod will play fetch until he is sick or passes out. He is highly motivated.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Phod & Buzz are in the same club. One of my client pups is a member, too. I have to take breaks playing fetch and remind Buzz AND my client pup to drink some water in-between, or they would both play until they’d pass out.

  7. Julie Smith Avatar
    Julie Smith

    Cocoa has no interest in playing catch or really in any ball. And she is not food motivated. Well, maybe we have not found the treat she would be motivated for yet, lol. I mean, she absolutely loves the dog park. She loves to wrestle with Rodney. She loves going for runs. But she can not be trusted off leash because there does not seem to be anything she wants as much as she wants to explore!!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Have you tried offering Miss Cocoa some tripe? Either in fresh or dried form? I’d be interested in knowing if she can resist that “doggie crack” 😉

      She sounds like Missy when she was a little younger – she’d take every opportunity she could get to explore…

  8. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    Haha easy question to answer. Ducks or upland birds are their ultimate motivator and then we work to tamp down the enthusiasm a bit. They also LOVE training bumpers. We have a chuck it. We use it more for retrieving rather than playing catch. Retrieving meaning I throw it, they watch it fall while seated at heel and then retrieve after I release them. It is a bit more challenging for them than catch especially if it falls in cover. You can get those chuck-its way out there but it is hard for me to throw it and take photos for some reason…lol.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I’m not surprised that ducks and training bumpers get your guys going 😉
      Your retrieving exercise is an excellent one to work that K9 brain – I do that with Buzz every now & then as well; it’s tough for him to be patient and wait because he really wants to go chase after the ball as soon as I throw it.

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