Why Do Dogs Love Tennis Balls? [6 Reasons + If They’re Safe]

By Lin
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For those with pets, the question of why do dogs love tennis balls has likely come up. Besides being a go-to toy for Fido, tennis balls have long been enjoyed by more than humans. Why do dogs like yellow tennis balls, and what significance do they have?

One of the reasons dogs love tennis balls is that they are unpredictable and erratic, mirroring the movement of cornered prey. Even though your dog knows a tennis ball is not a tiny creature, it still feels like they have a reason to catch it and hang onto one. This could be compared to a game of cat and mouse.

Are you wondering why your dog can’t get enough of your extra tennis balls? Well, we have some information to share below!

Table of Contents

Why Do Dogs Like Tennis Balls So Much?
Why Do Dogs Like Yellow Tennis Balls?
Why Do Dogs Love Chasing Tennis Balls?
Why Do Dogs Love Tennis Balls More Than Other Balls?
What Breed Of Dogs Love Tennis Balls The Most?
How Do I Teach My Dog To Play Fetch?
Are Tennis Balls Bad For Dogs?

Can Fetch Ever Be Bad for Dogs?
Final Thoughts

Why Do Dogs Like Tennis Balls So Much?

Dogs like tennis balls because they have a less predictable movement and pathway than traditional toys. A dog playing with a bouncy tennis ball leads to prey and predator-like response from your pet.

Yellow tennis balls are stimulating for dogs and those with a fresh smell. All of these factors can lead to pets running onto the tennis court during practice, usually in hopes of getting to keep a ball.

Although it might drive you crazy, there’s a science behind why your fur baby wants to grab hold of a can of tennis balls the second you bring them home.

Why Do Dogs Like Yellow Tennis Balls?

The main reason a dog will prefer a yellow tennis ball is because of the way one sees. For example, dogs have dichromatic vision, primarily perceiving shades of blue and yellow. Therefore, your pet will automatically see and be attracted to a bright yellow tennis ball.

Let’s put this reason and others into a list below:

  1. Dogs see shades of blue and yellow.
  2. Tennis balls fit into a dog’s mouth comfortably.
  3. Yellow tennis balls tend to be newer (strong smell).
  4. Tennis balls have bounce/an erratic movement.
  5. Yellow tennis balls activate a prey and predator response.
  6. Dogs love the texture of a tennis ball.

You also want to remember that because yellow stands out to dogs, this will excite them and be something ‘natural’ for them to understand. The scent your tennis ball can have and develop will also become necessary to a dog, as they mark it as their own.

This would explain why your pet has chosen a ball and tends to prefer it over others nearby. It’s like marking territory by peeing on a fire hydrant.

Why Do Dogs Love Chasing Tennis Balls?

You will often notice dogs becoming hyper-fixed on a tennis ball nearby due to its wild movement. Unlike a toy your dog may toss around to no avail, a tennis ball has bounce, texture, and movement they prefer.

Dogs have an instinct to hunt or ‘retrieve’ items they find, which becomes especially true when dealing with tennis balls. This is activated in many ways, but by playing tennis and hitting the ball, your dog will almost always be interested.

As we said above, seeing a yellow tennis ball also makes catching and chasing one easier. Dogs only sometimes see the color of their toys, which can mean a lack of interest to them.

Why Do Dogs Love Tennis Balls More Than Other Balls?

Dogs prefer tennis balls over other balls because of their color and texture. Although your pet might have a favorite rubber ball, the soft felt surface of a tennis ball paired with a bright yellow hue will drive them crazy.

Tennis balls are pressurized, essentially locking in their quality from when they’re made to when you open them.

You also want to remember the natural bounce a tennis ball has and retains throughout its lifetime, which is another cause for excitement for your pet. Additionally, the tennis ball bounce mimics their ancestor’s prey while the felt gives the appearance of animal ‘skin.’

What Breed Of Dogs Love Tennis Balls The Most?

Although almost every dog breed loves tennis balls, Golden Retrievers take this title. As their name suggests, Golden Retrievers love yellow items and are wired to retrieve and hunt for items.

A yellow tennis ball could be translated to a perfect recipe for play among this breed, hence why you always see Golden Retrievers with tennis balls in their mouths.

Golden Retrievers are also known to be incredibly playful and energetic, which does come down to their breed. More tennis balls mean a happier, active Golden Retriever.

How Do I Teach My Dog To Play Fetch?

If you want to teach your ball to play fetch, it’s best to acclimate them to grabbing and retrieving a tennis or regular ball. Let them sniff around it and gain a sense of ownership, which will cause them to run and catch it when you throw it away.

As we covered, some breeds naturally adapt to playing fetch. Golden Retrievers will do this without being coerced, which makes the game easier on your end. That said, not everyone is as fetch-inclined, so your dog will eventually learn the game through small actions.

You can also use the reward method, which you would do by reaching out your hand, holding a ball, and giving your dog a treat if it grabs it back.

Bribery might be the only way!

Are Tennis Balls Bad For Dogs?

Even though tennis balls are typically fine for dogs to play with, their top layer can degrade and cause health side effects for your pup over time. Specifically, the ball’s outer skin may become loose and shed, with some dogs taking this opportunity to eat the ball’s exterior.

This is unsafe and can lead to digestive issues and blockages, requiring a vet visit. Therefore, if you notice shedding from a tennis ball your dog plays with, replace it immediately.

It’s also worth mentioning that if a dog eats a tennis ball, this could cause choking and, in severe events, death. Keep a close eye on your dog and monitor for any odd behaviors.

Can Fetch Ever Be Bad For Dogs?

Fetch, although a great way to get dogs active, can lead to mental and physical stress if over-played. For instance, your dog’s mental health and focus can become damaged if you overdo a game of fetch.

This creates an urgency in your pup’s mind that if they don’t always have the ball, they’ve failed or done something wrong. Try to keep fetch to an average amount, playing for 10-15 minutes at a time. If you notice any anxiety symptoms forming, stop throwing the ball and see if this improves or worsens.

Pro Tip: According to professional dog trainer Sara Reusche, stress in canines can be exhibited as dilated pupils and a fast heart rate.


Are Yellow Tennis Balls Toxic To Dogs?

Brand-new yellow tennis balls are often treated with harmful chemicals and preservatives to keep their color/condition. Therefore, your dog should only be in close contact with them for a short period.

Can Dogs See The Color Of Tennis Balls?

Yes! Because dogs see yellow and blue best, tennis balls fall into an easy-to-spot category of toys.

How Long Should I Play Ball With My Dog?

Most experts suggest you initiate frequent, daily play sessions at home and during walks. Play in short bursts of up to five minutes, avoiding tiring out your dog with fetch.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we covered why dogs love tennis balls so much and what the significance of a yellow tennis ball means to them. The bright color makes this an easier toy to spot and enjoy, but remember: new balls may have harmful chemicals.

Avoid letting your pup eat the outer skin of their tennis ball as well.

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Editor of All Points Tennis and a huge Roger Federer fan, I've spent countless hours studying his moves, especially his forehand and one-handed backhand. I also love writing about all the technical stuff like rackets and strings. I'm super pumped to share my insights with fellow tennis lovers here.