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Avoid Playing Fetch With Sticks And Some Better Options

Shish Kebab Risk

In The Category Of I Never Would Have Thought Of That ...

Labrador Chewing StickI’m not one to bubble wrap children or dogs, but still, I advise clients with dogs that love to play ‘fetch’ to resist using sticks for that activity unless they’re willing to take the time to teach the dog how to pick a stick up.

I’ve sooner or later seen too many of my own ‘live to fetch’ dogs pick up a stick by the end, instead of the middle, and come pelting back and at some point in the high-speed retrieve, dip their head enough to drive the end of the stick, into the ground. You can use your imagination to visualize the outcome.

These Fetch/Retrieve Toys Are Less Risky And Arguably More Enjoyable And Beneficial

I recommend steering that drive (ideally while the dog is a still pup) towards a Kong on a rope that can double as a tug or one of those ball ‘flingers’. I prefer the Kong on a rope as when it hits the ground, it bounces in a more challenging way that most dogs seem to enjoy and likely gives them a more balanced body workout.

The advantage of the ball ‘flingers’ (if you’re as I am – the worst throwing arm in the Northern Hemisphere) is you can impress your dog by getting some serious distance.

Added Bonus - Fewer Nail Trims?

Toss a Kong on an asphalt or concrete surface and it bounces hither thither wearing their nails down fairly quickly. Don’t do it more than for a minute or two and only once in a while. While it wears their nails down enough that you won’t have to clip them manually, if done for too long it will wear the pads of their feet raw unbelievably quickly.

If you’re going to use a Kong on a rope to also play tug and your dog is large and strong enough you may need to thread the rope through a washer before you knot the end and thread it through.

(If your dog is already addicted to sticks, you can purchase a ‘flexible’ stick, and see if you can transition him or her to something less risky.)

If you’re avoiding unnecessary outings due to Covid-19 or are just generally people adverse, here are links to the products mentioned above. Note the disclosure at the end. – John Wade 🐾

Kong On A Rope (With Some Tips)

Kong On A Rope Instructions

Red Kong Vs Black Kong Vs Aqua Kong

The color you select has more to do with whether you’re going to include a Kong as an independent chew toy. Choose black for the tough chewer and red for the regular chewer. (Red is easier to find.) The Aqua Kong floats and comes with a rope already attached.


  • A washer will help prevent the knot from pulling through when tug of war is included in the toy’s duties.
  • Have a chewed through or a partially chewed through leash? Re-purpose, as I did in the image with a chewed through leather leash. (Yes, even I mistakes. :))
  • Us a rope that floats if your Kong doesn’t float as if it ends up in a pond you may be able to see and hopefully reach the floating rope if the water’s not too deep.

Amazon Links

Chuck It

Chuck It Chuckit

Rubber Stick

If starting from scratch I’d just stick to the options above, but if you find you just can’t break your dog’s stick addiction it’s worth a try.

Amazon Link

Addendum - Frisbees

Dog leaping for frisbeeAs ‘cool’ as those YouTube videos of dogs leaping high in the air to snatch a thrown Frisbee out of the air may seem, this sort of activity can’t be good a dog’s joints. There’s nothing the matter with a vigorous activity that combines cardiovascular and agility, but ask any veteran, and, or retired NBA player how their knees are and then chose an outlet with better long-term prospects for your dog.(1.)

1. Impact of Knee Injuries on Post-retirement Pain and Quality of Life: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Professional Basketball Players


It is possible that some of the links I provide (on my websites or in emails etc.) to places where you can purchase any of the products I personally have used and therefore recommend may result in a small (trust me, it’s very small, but it does help to keep the lights on) portion of your purchase being directed to my own coffers. I do periodically review these links to make sure that the price is the best or close to the best, but feel free to do your own online and local store research.

John Wade

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