This is a great game for keeping border collie puppies amused during the long dark winter evenings, and it’s something you can do in the lounge at night while watching TV. It’s perfect for teaching dogs to bring balls back to you rather than just running off with them. Have at least three or four balls all the same. Tennis balls are ideal and the Kong ones last the longest. They have a very annoying squeak but dogs love them!
Sit close to a wall, a settee or something else that you can bounce the balls off so that when you roll them, they roll back to you. Roll the first ball towards the wall and catch it when it comes back to you. Repeat, trying to get it past the dog so that you can catch it again. If your dog catches or runs off with a ball, pay him no attention. Just start rolling, bouncing and catching the next ball.
If, at any point, the dog brings any of the balls back to you, give him loads of praise and throw it immediately again for him. Only throw balls that he brings back near enough for you to reach.
Once he has run off with all the balls, the game stops. After a few minutes, you could go and gather the balls and repeat.
Over time, dogs start to learn that the only way the game keeps going is if they keep the ball quite close to you. Furthermore, the dogs learn that balls are only fun if you have them, not if he has them on his own. If they go off with them, you just start playing with another one, without him, and all the fun stops until he comes back and gets involved again.
Rolling the balls rather than throwing them is important. Chasing balls, jumping to catch them and skidding past them can cause damage to young dogs’ joints, and also cause injuries.
It might take a while before the puppies start bringing the balls back, but it’s fun and it’s a great way of tiring out puppies at night. The more balls you have the better!