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Urban Herding for All Dogs! No Sheep Required!

Just as we start to think that all the possibilities for fun and exciting activities with our dogs has been thought of, another one pops on the scene. This new sport called Treibball, pronounced "Try-ball", shows up to provide our dogs with a mentally enriching and low impact outlet for all dogs, no sheep or herding skills required!

Treibball is best described as urban herding where you direct your dog from varying distances to move inflatable balls into a goal. This game is an ideal sport for all dogs of different ages, breed and size. It doesnt require a lot of expensive equipment or space and it creates teamwork and communication between a dog and its owner. Treibball also makes almost no physical demands on the handler, and so people of any age and athletic ability can play.

Where Did Treibball Come From?

Treibball, also known as drive-ball or push ball, originated in Germany in 2005 when Dutch dog trainer January Nijboer watched his Australian Cattle Dogs push their rubber water dishes around the field after finishing herding lessons. The dogs, who clearly still had energy to spare, had created their own game.

He then brought in large inflatable balls for his dogs to push around and saw they took immediately to their new sheep. It quickly spread across Europe and in 2007, Sweden hosted the inaugural international Treibball competition.

The American Treibball Association (ATA) founder Dianna Stearns first saw drive-ball videos in 2009 and as a positive-reinforcement trainer, she loved the emphasis on a respectful relationship between dog and handler that Nijboer and other trainers had. “I could see it being used as a positive teaching tool, it's fun and fosters a stronger bond without corrections or punishment, and improves communication skills and enhances a dog’s off-leash reliability.” says Stearns.

How Can Treibball Keep Your Pup Occupied?

A lot of the behavior problems or behaviors that are not desirable that are seen in our dogs stem from the effects of boredom. Most dogs are problem solvers. and love to move, they need an outlet for their intelligence and energy before it gets funneled into destructive or unwanted behaviors.

Treibball is a great solution for high energy dogs or young dogs whose pet parents cannot match their activity level. Our work focused lifestyles are often at odds with the level of high activity that helps dogs thrive in our modern world. Most dogs would love a job, and this thinking game is the perfect fit! Whether you pursue Treibball competitively or recreationally, suburban and city dogs will enjoy the physical and mental stimulation of tending to their inflatable flock.

How to Play Treibball?

Here are some of the basics of the actual competition:

  • The competition playing field is either 35 x 50 or 75 x 50, but can be played in smaller spaces for fun.

  • The ball in play must stay within the boundaries of the playing area on the field.

  • Inflatable balls are placed in a triangle, sort of like racked billiard balls.

  • The goal is a regular soccer goal or similar pen.

  • Dog and handler have a designated time to drive or push all the balls into the goal.

  • Timing starts when the handler signals the dog to run out to the balls from the goal and stops when all the balls are in the goal.

  • The handler must stay within a designated handler box in front of the goal.

  • The dog may not bite or break the ball.

  • Handlers may not shout at, punish, intimidate, or otherwise force the dog to perform.

  • The fastest team with the fewest error points wins.

How to Train Treibball

The ability to control your dog’s position, movement, and speed is a very important element of any type of herding, whether the goal is herding live sheep or big colored balls. Hence, there are a number of skills your dog needs to perfect before he gets to start chasing balls around the yard. We’ll give you an overview of some of the skills your dog will need to learn, but for a deeper understanding of the game check out our class schedule for an Intro to Treibball class or book a private lesson!

Skills needed for Treibball

  • Distance: The ability for the dog to move out and away from you with the physical presence of your body.

  • Directionals: The understanding of the verbals cues "Away" and "Come By" which tells the dog to go around the balls to the right or the left.

  • Balancing: The ability to go out, turn and face you in a stationary position.

  • Off Leash Skills: The ability to listen to verbal cues while off leash in a distracting environment.

  • Pushing: The ability to push a ball toward the goal with their nose based on the information provided by the handler.

  • Impulse Control: The emotional and physical self control to stay under threshold so they do not exhibit unwanted behaviors like biting balls or losing focus on the game.

Hopefully, we’ve succeeded in sparking your interest and “driving” you to other resources about Treibball and maybe you will even "come by" and pursue your “goal” of herding big inflated balls with your dog.

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