Grab your dog and the nearest Chuckit! toy because October 17th is National Fetch Day, a chance to get out in the yard, get some exercise, and build some memories. Fetch may be one of the oldest bonding activities between dogs and their humans but Chuckit!, the creator of National Fetch Day, has improved the experience for everyone involved.
This year, Chuckit! is bringing the celebration to backyards everywhere. Through a series of fun and safe dog-themed programs including throwing 200 backyard parties, partnering with local venues for curbside celebrations, and even a virtual ball launcher, Chuckit! is looking to Make Fetch Happen™ in 2020. Chuckit! is also partnering with the North Shore Animal League America to donate up to 5,000 balls to dogs in need.
To learn more about how you can take part in Chuckit!’s National Fetch Day activities, see the “How to Celebrate” section below or visit the National Fetch Day website.
History of National Fetch Day
Fetch may be a game played between a dog and his human, but it has its roots tens of thousands of years ago and the game being played was survival. Recent science indicates that the first dogs were domesticated by humans sometime between 18,000 and 32,000 years ago. Their wolf ancestors slowly progressed from hunting competitors into hunting partners leading to their general domestication as pets over the millennia.
This is where fetch comes in. As a hunting partner, dogs played several different roles, one of which being to retrieve food — think the bloodhound from Duck Hunt but without the snarky laughter. The breeds that were best at this critical component were the ones that were more likely to stick around becoming the fetch lovers we love today. Eventually, the need to fetch food was replaced by far less survivalistic endeavors (ya know, like snuggling and taking up the whole bed). And so the process of fetch became the game of fetch, only this time with a greater bonding component.
So why do dogs play fetch? Turns out, they are chemically and psychologically disposed to the game. Playing fetch feels good to them. The exercise creates a sort of “runner’s high” that triggers the reward regions in their brains. That tickling of the reward regions becomes self-reinforcing. Dogs who feel good playing fetch play fetch more.
There is also the bonding component. Dogs are notoriously loyal animals and the bond created between a dog and his human playing fetch has a significant impact on that relationship. It provides much-needed exercise for the dog (and who are we kidding, the human too), and reinforces the relationship chemically and psychologically. Dogs love fetch. They play fetch with their humans. Dogs love their humans. What lovely math, eh?