No Sheep, No Ducks, No Problem
No Sheep, No Ducks, No Problem - There's a New Game in Town: Treibball
It’s a given that herding dogs are wonderful companions, and it’s no secret that they’re hard-wired to herd. Many herding dog owners don’t own or have access to sheep or ducks for their dogs to herd. The dogs end up herding family members around the house and some seem to decide that they can’t walk any further than a certain spot outside the house because that is their personal territory.
All dogs can do well in a dog sport that suits them and their owners, as they can use their minds and their bodies - it’s also a great social experience for both of them. For herding breed dogs, there is a dog sport that seems particularly well-suited to their kind: American Treibball.
Treibball is a relationship-building dog sport that provides a new way to play and communicate with your dog. Treibball is problem-solving game that teaches better attention skills to the handler and promotes off-leash reliability. Treibball is low cost and has low physical impact on the players, which is great for older owners and allows for less worry about injury due to the dog falling off equipment or leaping to catch something. Neither is part of this sport. In Treibball, the dogs simply “herd” eight balls of various sizes into a net. Treibball can be played by competitors of all ages and physical abilities, as well as dogs of all sizes and shapes.
“Playing Treibball with your dogs gives both their minds and bodies a workout,” says Diana Stearns, who brought the sport to the U.S. after seeing videos from Europe. When she inquired about the sport, she was unable to get any help because they didn’t speak English and never responded to her inquiries.
Stearns, who is a certified dog trainer and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant in Colorado, studied the videos carefully and reproduced what they were doing as closely as possible. Once she had that worked out, she wrote a book that also serves as a workbook.
In her book, she sets down the principles, rules and instructions for playing and competing. Get the Ball Rolling – A Step by Step Guide to Training for Treibball, is published by Dogwise and can be purchased many places where dog training books are sold.
“It improves their concentration and provides a fun outlet for all that energy that would otherwise go into chewing the legs off your couch or digging in the yard,” says Diana. “Giving your dog ‘a job’ and an outlet, gives them direction and some fun they can enjoy with you.”
There are classes and competitions available, as well as trainers in many states, parts of Canada and in other countries. Diana Stearns is also available to conduct workshops. Much more information is available on The American Treibball Association’s website.