Karen B. London
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Sleeping With a Tennis Ball
Dog is clear about what she loves
Super Bee's typical nap

Fetch is Super Bee’s absolute joy and she never seems to get tired of it. She does, however, eventually get tired, and when that happens she takes the ball with her for her afternoon nap. That’s right, this dog loves balls so much she sleeps with one.

Her favorite cozy situation is to be on the coach on a fluffy towel, sound asleep on her back with the ball nestled by her neck. I like to think of the ball as her security ball, similar to the security blankets that make many children feel confident and comfortable in any situation.

Of course, I’m projecting when I suggest that her desire to have the ball with her has anything to do with security or feelings of well-being. Perhaps she’s just possessive of the ball and wants to make sure nobody takes it while she is asleep. Or maybe she likes to know where it is when she wakes from her nap, so she doesn’t want to leave it lying around where someone may move it.

Does your dog have a toy or other item that is so precious that it is part of naptime or bedtime, and if so, why do you think your dog wants it close while sleeping?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Hannah Rose Ber... | November 29 2013 |

My dog lucky loves tennis balls too! If you want his attention, all you have to do is hold the yellow toy up and he'll race over to you tongue flapping and ears flying. It's adorable!

Submitted by MauraDee | December 2 2013 |

I frequently unearth my dog's favorite toys from her bed, where she has been lying on or next to them during her naps. She's a little toy possessive, especially around other dogs -- she's not aggressive about it, but she goes around doing the dog equivalent of a kid saying to another kid "that's mine, and that's mine too, and that's also mine, and she's mine, and that's mine, and you can play with that, except I changed my mind, that's mine too." She gives in when challenged but makes a big show of it at first and always wants whatever the other dog has. She's a newly-rescued adult, so we're still working on minimizing bad habits and encouraging good ones. My heart always sinks a little when I see the edge of a wubba peeking out from under her sleeping form, because it signals to me the continued presence of mild to moderate toy possession. Is this not something to worry about, or work on? Or is it largely innocuous if not accompanied by growling, snapping, etc?

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