Treibball – The Exciting New Doggy Activity That Everyone’s Talking About!
This article introduces you to the game of Treibball, a skills-based dog sport developed in Germany about 10 years ago. About five years ago, information about Treibball was translated into English and the game was introduced into the US. It is now attracting interest in Australia.
You start in front of a goal, with your dog beside you. Your dog learns to go out several metres to a large gym ball, turn and face you and then herd the ball towards you and into the goal.
In competition, the dog has to push eight balls into the goal, one by one, in as short a time as possible. The eight balls are set out in triangle, rather like the balls in snooker. Wherever the ball has gone, the dog must get behind it, then face towards the handler and drive the ball towards the goal. Of course, the other balls have then been scattered, a bit like what happens when you break in snooker. So you then have to send the dog to the left or right, back or forwards, to each ball so the dog can drive them one by one into the goal.
At higher levels, the dog has to drive the balls past or through various obstacles. These might be chutes, weaving poles, a tunnel, water traps – anything that you can make up. That’s why Treibball is so much fun. It is not yet set in stone, so to a large extent, we make it up as we go along.
What skills do you and your dog learn?
While handlers understandably want to go and get their dogs pushing balls around, this can lead to disaster, as over-enthusiastic, uncontrolled dogs chase, bite and slash at the ball. You and your dog should be proficient in essential Foundation Skills before the ball is introduced.
We teach skills under four headings:
The dogs are taught by positive reinforcement, particularly targeting and shaping;
This includes off-lead control with distractions, so your dog can work around other dogs with movement going on;
This mostly means not attacking the ball, but waiting to be sent to it.
We teach your dog to orient to you, to go out to a mat, which is used as a place target, use of directional control at a distance to send your dog to the left or right, and of course the ball control skills that make up the main activity of herding the balls into the goal.
Who can play Treibball?
It’s great for those frustrated urban working dogs (and isn’t that all of them?), who, up until now, have only had joggers and cyclists to herd. However, any breed can learn to play. It is not confined to herding breeds.
One advantage of Treibball is that, compared to Agility, the dogs don’t have to jump or be quite as fit. So dogs that have retired from Agility or Obedience can still do Treibball. It is suitable for less fit or disabled handlers as well, because the handler stands or sits at the goal and sends the dog out, using distance control and directional signals. The handler is not allowed to come forward or run around the field with the dog.
We also start puppies. We recommend you do Puppy Class first, but a puppy can start from 4 months of age.
Treibball is great fun, both challenging and rewarding for handler and dog alike.
***Kaye Hargreaves of Wagging School started teaching Treibball in early 2013, beginning with a 10-week Introduction to Treibball Course, which is intended to lay a foundation for playing Treibball. There are four levels in Kaye’s course, and she now has handlers completing Level Two.
If you would like to give Treibball a go, contact me on 9489-5095 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can have a one-on-one lesson if you like (cost $75 for 1 hour). The next Introduction to Treibball Course will run for eight weeks, starting February 2015, and cost $195, a special introductory price. However, if you are not sure about making a commitment to the eight week course, and you can get a group of six people and dogs together, I will run a special 4-week “Trei before you buy” program, at a special club or group discount cost of $95 per person.