Should you try Treibball? How to decide if Treibball is for you!

Here's the thing…

With so many dog sports out there, each with their own pros and cons, it can be hard to decide which to choose! If you enjoy teaching precision and control, maybe you'd like obedience. If you enjoy fast and dynamic behaviors, agility may be more your speed.

Exploring the world with your dog? Maybe you'd like parkour! Fascinated with how your dog can use their innate skills? Give nosework a try!

So, what about treibball?

The challenge (and fun!) in treibball is about getting control at a distance… having a dog that can follow cues even in motion with a balance between keeping their attention on you and independently performing complex behaviors.

What is Treibball?

Sometimes called "ball herding" or "urban herding," treibball is like a cross between soccer and billiards that you play with your dog.

In most "classic" versions of the game there are 8-balls on the field set up in a triangle shape, with 4 balls in the front row, 3 in the second, and 1 ball in the back row.

The handler works with their dog to bring in those balls one at a time, gradually demonstrating more and more control as you work through the levels of the sport.

Here's a sample competition run with my GSD Riley at the Championship level through the Amercian Treibball Association (ATA) while I narrate what's happening.

Venues For Treibball

There are a number of different treibball venues. The sport is still fairly up-and-coming, so many of the venues offer video titling programs to make it easier to title your dog in the sport even if there aren't in-person competitions in your area.

The main venue these days, however, is NATE - the National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts

NATE has an excellent breakdown of their various Treibball games on their website, and within each game there are a number of levels gradually building in difficulty and layering in new skills as you go. They also offer a skills certification program, so you can earn a certificate for each of the skills you teach your dog that will ultimately be used in the sport! 

They break those skills down into 3 categories: Send, Push, and Directional Cues. 

But of course, we can break things down even further. 

Treibball Skills: Breaking Down the Game

If you compete in other sports, there's a good chance you have at least a few of the foundation skills you need to play the game!

A good targeting behavior is key to teaching many of the foundation skills in the sport — from there you can build going around the ball, and the distance work you need for the game!

Skills to Teach:

  • Go to Target
  • Move between targets
  • Go around an object (and pause!)
  • Go around a ball (and pause!)
  • Go around a ball and move between balls
  • Push the Ball
  • Push the ball - harder and further
  • Add in distance
  • Add in steering
  • Add in multiple balls
  • Pushing a ball that offers resistance (because there's another ball in the way)
  • Learning to go to point
  • Pulling it all together!!

From there it's just adding complexity and working to learn all the different situations your dog may encounter on the field!

Who should give Treibball a try?

Treibball can be a lot of fun for a lot of different teams - but it offers special benefits for certain types of dog and handler pairs. 

In particular: 
  • Young dogs who need to build skills that will transfer well to other sport but need something low impact while they continue to mature.
  • Retiring dogs, who need something a little easier on their bodies than their first sport.
  • Herding dogs who don't have their own herds but need an outlet for that desire to CONTROL movement of things. (Though it's not JUST for herding dogs!)
  • Dogs who struggle with in person events, because of reactivity or anxiety or ... something else, and whose handlers still want to DO something, where they can compete and earn titles!
  • Dogs and people who want a step-by-step process for building their skills, and who really are looking for a very supportive environment as they work to build their sports skills.
  • We even had a horse work through the class last time it was offered! 

E363: Hélène Lawler - Reliable Distance Downs
E362: Kelly Daniel - "Wellness and Your Canine Ath...

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