Even non-herding breeds get a kick out of this fun sport.
M. Christine Zink, Ph.D., D.V.M.
If you’ve ever seen a working sheepdog, you know how amazing it is to watch herding dogs effortlessly move sheep. Of course, most of us don’t live on livestock farms. Treibball, one of the newest dog sports, makes an excellent substitute.
How treibball works
Invented in Germany around 2003, treibball is a recapitulation of herding, minus the sheep. The dog has 10 minutes to drive eight large rubber fitness balls (45 to 85 centimeters in diameter) from their starting position in a triangular formation into a soccer-sized goal with the guidance of the dog’s handler. To make the game more complicated, the dog must bring back the differently sized and colored balls in an order chosen by the handler or judge. All training must be based in positive reinforcement, which creates enthusiastic working dogs.
The competitions start with an outrun. The handler remains within 24 inches of the goal while the dog runs about 50 feet to the other side of the balls. On cues from the handler, the dog uses its nose to push each ball into the goal. The handler can use verbal or whistle signals, and at the introductory level, can carry a clicker. Bonus points are awarded (and seconds are subtracted from the time) if the handler uses fewer than three commands to send and direct the dog; seconds are added for faults, such as biting the ball or bringing back the wrong ball. The dog with the fastest final time wins.
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