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Hi guys,

I'm new to this forum. I have an almost 5-month old, working line, female german shepherd puppy. She is my first german shepherd and boy does she have A LOT of energy (which I expected ofcourse with a working line dog). She's my second dog after my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel passed away last February, so this is my first dog which such high energy.

So my concern is...she has a very high ball drive, in fact I would say she is obsessed by playing ball. The breeder, and also the internet, say playing ball with a puppy, especially a large breed, is bad for joint issues. But she loves it SO MUCH. So I try to not throw the ball too far, maybe 4-5 meters away (our yard is not that big anyway) and only throw it on the lawn and not on a hard surface. I also aim to end the session after 5 - 10 minutes. But still she really DIVES at the ball when catching it, or she manages to catch it mid-air while making a semi salto jump (it's crazy how agile she is for a puppy!). But all this makes me worry especially for her front paws and shoulders. I've been hearing some cracking noises coming from her paws as she walks through our house, I have no idea whether this is normal? She seems totally fine ...

So my question is, did you guys play ball with your puppy? Did they turn out fine without joint issues? Do you think we should slow down on the ball-throwing or is this totally fine?
I asked my vet but all she said is that it she had the same problem with her ball-obsessed dog and we should try to find balance somehow (quite vague...).
 

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I like the idea of teaching to retrieve even from a young age, but I would be careful about throwing too far, too many times in a row, and also letting her jump up in the air. I'd focus instead of rolling it on the ground, so she can't jump up and catch it. You can also restrain her by the collar, throw the ball, and then let her go get it. But definitely do not overdo it.
 
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