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Ask Bruce: Playing ball

Dog owner Peggy has a working cocker spaniel who loves to play ball over and over again. Peggy asks; will this repetitive running after the ball damage his leg joints or, as a working dog, is he able to withstand a lot of exercise?

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It’s great your dog loves to play Peggy, but the intensity of this repetitive activity could be doing him more harm than good.

Chasing after a ball if done to excess can be harmful for dogs, even fit working dogs. Very often they get too tired, but it takes a while for you to realise this, and by the time you do they will have become overtired, over-exercised and risked putting unnecessary pressure on their joints.

The sudden changes of direction that are involved in playing ball can also put too much stress on your dog’s legs so try to avoid this.

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It’s best not to overdo any one activity. As with all things, everything in moderation is fine.

Look for alternative types of play instead. Spaniels are well known for their intelligence as well as their high energy levels.

Why not introduce a slower form of play where they need to engage their mind, such as hiding the favoured ball or some dog treats in a small space for them to sniff out. Still great fun, but much kinder on the joints.

This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of award-winning community magazine Look Local

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