Dog Throwing His Ball Toy In Air

Don’t Panic! Here’s Why Your Dog Throw His Toys in Air

As a dedicated dog parent and frequent dog sitter, I’ve spent countless hours observing and interacting with dogs of all breeds and personalities; whether it’s my own or when I’m looking after pets of friends and families, I can safely say I’ve witnessed it all. Through my experiences, I’ve developed a deep understanding of canine behaviour, which I’m eager to share with fellow dog lovers. One fascinating behaviour that often puzzles and delights owners equally is when a dog throws its toys in the air. This action, playful and filled with joy, can also provide insight into your dog’s mind and emotions.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi chasing a ball in a field

The Roots of Play

To truly grasp why your dog might be tossing toys into the air, it’s essential to dive into the psychology of play. Dogs, much like their wild counterparts, engage in play as a way of practising survival skills. Throwing toys can mimic the actions of capturing prey, honing their hunting abilities, and ensuring they remain sharp and ready for anything. Most importantly, it’s a fun-filled activity that allows them to express joy.

Prey Drive Simulation

Mimicking the Hunt: When your dog throws its toy, it’s often simulating catching prey. This can be traced back to their ancestors, who relied on these skills for survival. Frequently exhibited by big dogs or those that were initially bred to hunt, like Blood-hounds.

Joy and Excitement

Expression of Happiness: Dogs also use play as a way to express joy and excitement. Throwing toys allows them to release energy in a positive and controlled environment.

Another layer to this behavior is the concept of self-entertainment. Dogs, especially those that are left alone for periods of the day, need to find ways to keep themselves entertained.


Self-Amusement: By throwing their toys, dogs demonstrate an ability to amuse themselves, showcasing a level of independence that is crucial for their mental well-being.

Mental Stimulation

Cognitive Engagement: This activity also serves as a form of mental exercise, keeping their minds active and engaged, which is as important as physical exercise.

I once cared for my friend’s pooch, a spirited Labrador named Max, who had a liking for throwing his rubber ball against walls. Initially, I was puzzled by this behaviour, it was like he was playing catch with himself, and I was left baffled. I soon realized it was Max’s way of creating a more challenging and engaging play experience. He would wait with bated breath for the ball to rebound in unpredictable directions, then pounce with all the precision of a seasoned hunter. This daily ritual not only kept Max physically fit but also mentally sharp.

dog and his owner playing outside with rope toy

While watching your dog throw toys in the air is often harmless and entertaining, ensuring that it remains a positive aspect of their play is crucial.

Encouraging Safe Play

Choose the Right Toys: Ensure the toys are durable and appropriate for your dog’s size and strength to prevent any accidental swallowing or injury. Also, we need to ensure that the toys last, hence preventing the pooch from destroying his toys.

Create a Safe Play Environment: Make sure the play area is free from hazards where your dog might hurt themselves while jumping or running. My dog once ran into the fence trying to catch his stuffed rabbit and got hurt. It is essential to take precautions.

Engaging with Your Dog

Join the Fun: Participate in your dog’s play by throwing the toy for them or teaching them new games that incorporate their natural behaviour.

Positive Reinforcement: Encourage their playful behaviour with treats and praise, reinforcing the bond between you and your furry friend.

When to Seek Help

While throwing toys is generally a healthy and normal behaviour, excessive compulsion or a sudden change in play habits might indicate underlying issues such as anxiety or boredom. If your dog’s play behaviour seems obsessive or is accompanied by other concerning signs, consulting with a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist is recommended.

Your dog’s toy-tossing antics are more than just a cute quirk; they’re a window into their evolutionary past, emotional state, and cognitive health. By understanding and supporting this behaviour, you can help ensure your dog remains happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated. Remember, the key is to provide safe, engaging playtime that satisfies their natural instincts and strengthens your bond.

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