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 No Sheep? Try Treibball for Your Herding Dog

Treibball is a new dog sport originating in Europe where the dog gathers and moves a "flock" of large balls. Typically the balls are those heavy duty inflatable exercise or yoga balls. Similar to herding livestock the human part of the team directs the dog in pushing the balls to or through the course to a goal.

Most sites describe something similar to pool as the "traditional" style. In this form the balls are set up in a triangle pattern. The handler stands some distance away at the opening to a soccer goal net. Typically the dog runs to the back of this pattern to work the rear most ball first. The dog drives the ball to the goal. The handler then directs the order in which the dog should drive the remaining balls to the goal.

As might be expected there are many variations in this sport. Sometimes obstacles are created made of cones or long objects like logs. The dog drives the ball through the channels created by the obstacles, perhaps in a meandering path pattern, or slalom like weaving the ball in and out.

Different web sites list different dates for the origin of the activity as a sport. I suspect that in concept it has multiple independent origins, based mostly on when the large lightweight exercise balls started to become widely available. Certainly the activity of playing soccer (aka football) with a dog has existed for a very long time. There have long been hard shelled balls for playing with your dog. The hard shell prevents the dog from biting the ball and encourages pushing it with paws or nose. Indeed there is a ball called a "pig ball" that is hard shelled and created for pigs to play with. Some variations of treibball use the pig ball. The variation of using exercise balls seems to be what has encouraged this activity to develop into a sport. The physical qualities of the gym balls seem more suited to a more methodical controlled ball movement than the hard shelled balls.

Some sites list Jan Nijboer as the creator of the activity as a formal sport. He is currently based in Germany. His goal was to provide an activity suited to channeling the drives of the herding dogs in the urban environment. Much of the terminology in this form of treibball is taken from herding.

Since its formation the sport has grown, diverged and diversified. It has turned out to be suited to virtually any dog breed. Because it is low impact it can be enjoyed by older dogs or those with modest mobility limitations. Most of the sites I reviewed emphasize that the value of this sport is more than exercising the dog. It is in developing a working cooperative communication in achieving a goal.

The name of the sport "Treibball" is German, in English it may be described as "Driving Ball.". It is also variously translated as push or bump ball, or may appear in automated translations as "wax ball." I've also seen it translated as propellant ball or blowing ball. When reading automated translations if you encounter the word "wax", "propellant" or "blow" just substitute"push" to get the intended meaning.

YouTube has a number of videos showing this sport in action.

American Treibball Association

The American Treibball Association was formed to establish the sport in the United States. There are classes in Thornton, CO, USA.

Living With Dogs

Offers an e-book, videos and a discussion group on this activity.  There are classes in the area of Santa Cruz, CA, USA.

Treibball discussion group hosted on Yahoo

This Treibball discussion group was started by the folks at Living With Dogs so it is in English and is largely USA based. At this time allows non-members to read the messages. It is a good way to get a feel for the sport.

How to Teach The Basics of 'Treibball' or 'Push Ball'  

Probably the best basics video I've found on building the foundation for this sport.

Treibball/ball herding rules and training -

This site provides a translation of the Treibball rules from German to English

Treibball T-shirts, mugs, sweatshirt and other treibball products from DogPlay


Most of the web sites are in European languages so you will probably need to use a translation tool to read them. I used Google Translate.

Natural Dogmanship (in German) ( translate link)

The home page for Jan Nijboer. This address is the primary site and provides the most information. The home page provides links to Swiss and English language versions. Posted on the English language version is this pdf based article written by Jan describes how he originated this activity as a dog sport.

Treibball (in Swedish) ( translate link)

Despite the rather rough translation by Google I found this site to be very good. The site is authored by Linda Westergre. The FAQ page in particular does a good job of explaining that this is not just a matter of turning the dog loose on the ball. Whether you view it as a sport or just fun time with your dog you and your dog will get more out of it if you develop some control from the beginning. The author emphasizes that the activity is fun, but about cooperation, not random free play. You will get the most out of this site if you are already comfortable with clicker training.

Treibball (in Swedish) ( translate link)

This site by Helena Tiderman has a bit on the history of Treibball as a formal sport. It describes different level of competition and provides some graphics showing the positions of the balls for each.

Driving Ball (in German)( translate link)

This is a single page explanation of the sport with some nice photographs that help make sense out of the translation. The Google based translation wasn't as good here. I found it a bit distracting to read the sport described as "Ball Propellant."

Treibball Switzerland (in German - Swiss) ( translate link)

A little hard to tell who owns this site. It looks like an official organization or club site. It has much detail on the rules, how the sport is played, contact information etc. This one also translated to Propellant Ball, or sometimes blowing ball.



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Copyright © 2010, Diane Blackman     November 21, 2010     March 14, 2011

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