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lillycoyote's avatar

Why do dogs like to fetch? And why sticks? There have been questions about generalities, e.g. lately. My dog loves fetching sticks; a total dog stereotype. Why?

Asked by lillycoyote (24835points) May 31st, 2012

She likes tennis balls, other types of balls, frisbeeish things, just about any small thing I throw, but she absolutely loves sticks.

And she is spoiled, terribly. She has a rather large collection of “hand crafted” sticks that I have selected for their straightness, weight and diameter; where I have essentially sawed off and sawed out, the “filet” of the branch, as it were, so it would be a perfect stick.

Maybe it is just because I throw them more often; the sticks, more often that the tennis balls. I don’t know. The balls kind of make sense, because they continue to move after they his the ground, maybe like an animal might. But you throw a stick and as soon as it hits the ground it stops moving.

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15 Answers

jazmina88's avatar

perhaps it is the feel in the mouth and the ease of grabbing it. Balls are a bit harder, especially for small mouth boogers.
Maybe they like that a stick doesnt bounce. They are more in charge.

Bellatrix's avatar

I love that you collect sticks for her. My dogs like sticks too. If one finds a good stick, the other will grab hold of the other end with its teeth.

Why do cats like boxes? Or children like the packaging rather than the toy?

Who knows what that stick represents for our dogs? Dogs just love the simple things in life.

ucme's avatar

My dawg loves anything that squeaks, excluding mice. She has bundles of squeaky toys & loves nothing better than attempting to shake the life out of them.
She has been known to fetch a stick or two, but never gives them up….“it’s mine I tell ya, all mine, mwwaahh!”
I’d like to try tossing a boomerang just to see her confused reaction, kind of cuts out the middle man so to speak.

Bellatrix's avatar

@ucme, does she like the squeak? We have to buy toys with no squeaks or one of my dogs kills the toy.

ucme's avatar

@Bellatrix It seems so, i’m not fluent in doggie speak, but she’s yet to kill a squeak….hey that rhymes, i’m a poet & I don’t know it…I did it again!!
Her current fave is this dumbell shaped thing with gnarly balls, no not Sly Stallone ;¬}

Bellatrix's avatar

We have to buy non-killable dog toys! I have photos of my dog marmalising his Christmas toy. I had some photographic evidence of the murder but I can’t find it now.

syz's avatar

Oh, going out on a limb here…....I would theorize that “retrieving” started out as a behavior used by wolves to teach young to hunt. The pack initially regurgitates food for the pups, but eventually begins to bring still-living prey to the den to begin the long process of teaching the pups to hunt. Once man began to domesticate the wolf and create dog, we became the pack that the animals bonded with, and a few may have expressed that behavior. Being the opportunists that we are, we bred those dogs specifically for that behavior, refining it through selective breeding until we had a dog we could use in a specific role during hunting, i.e., a retriever (as well as pointers, coursing, scent hounds, etc.).

CWOTUS's avatar

When I was in high school my friend Ray and I used to play catch with a baseball and our gloves. There was a free-running dog in the neighborhood (which was allowed in those olden days) who used to attach himself to us when we played. If either of us missed a catch and the ball went rolling, then Jinx was there to chase it down before either of us could, slobber all over it, and eventually return it.

We didn’t particularly care for that – the slobbering-all-over-it part, anyway. (Having a ball retriever was nice sometimes, though.) So what we would do sometimes when Jinx came over to Ray’s yard would be to throw a stick out into the woods and let him chase that – which he would, and find the exact stick (in the woods full of sticks!) and return at our feet.

That could be inconvenient, too, because when he returned the stick to the feet of the thrower it also interrupted our game. It didn’t seem to matter how far we could throw a stick; Jinx could always find and return it from any collection of sticks we threw it into. We graduated to throwing stones into the woods, figuring that we could throw a small rock farther than we could throw a stick, with the added benefit that a small rock, thrown farther, would be harder to find and take longer to return.

Yeah, well, that was true. It took that dog just a few minutes longer to find the exact same rock every time. That dog was spooky-good at retrieval.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t know why sticks would draw them. I had a client that had a bunch of Australian Blue Heelers.They loved retrieving the rubber milking machine inflations. We’d talk business while I would be throwing them for the dogs to go after.

marinelife's avatar

Not all dogs love to fetch. The ones that do were bred that way for hunting purposes (retrieving game). Sticks are not the best thing to throw for your dog. They can splinter in the mouth.

Judi's avatar

Axel loves rocks more than anything.(except maybe his daddy’s T shirts.) I think its like asking why people love chocolate.

Coloma's avatar

My old dog loved his ball but was a stick hound too. Dogs like to chase, part of their prey drive. Some more than others depending on their breed. My hound loved to chase, my shepherd not so much. True though that sticks can break teeth. My dog had several chipped teeth from gnawing on sticks.

Most stereotypes have at least a grain of truth to them, or they wouldn’t be stereotypes. lol Most cats like tuna and all geese like swimming. True it is. :-)

woodcutter's avatar

Sticks are sometimes the most available object to pick up and throw. If we are down by the creek a stick is always there to throw into the water. I think they are just easier to grab for both participants, and if they are lost or ignored it’s no big deal. My dog loves those small rubber dog tires to chase around the yard.But the real fun is to try to get it out of her mouth. She thinks thats a hoot. It’s why there are two out there, two of everything we play with because the tug of war is her game.

lillycoyote's avatar

Thank you all so much for your answers. I have been a bit “under the weather,” not feeling well in the past day or so, so all I can manage is GAs for everyone who has taken the trouble to respond to my question. Hopefully I can manage, in the next day or so, to respond more personally. My Lizzie loves her squeaky toys too! I would like to respond about that, at least.

bkcunningham's avatar

I hope you are feeling better, @lillycoyote.

I had an Australian shepherd who was a champion frisbee dog. He loved to work and please me. Period. When he was bored, he’d roll a rock to keep busy and work. He had to be moving and working. Anyway, be very careful with throwing sticks.

My dog, Tober, had to have three separate surgeries because of a stupid stick that got lodged in his throat. When it was removed, there were tiny pieces of bark lodged in the wound in his throat and instant infection and rejection set in. I was standing talking to my neighbor and we were both nonchalantly tossing a nice sturdy, straight stick for Tober. He’d bring it back, drop it and either my neighbor or I would toss it out again, End over end over end… until the last time. Tober was running full blast and the stupid stick stuck in the ground and he ran into the stick with his mouth opened.

The scene couldn’t have duplicated again for a million dollars.

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