Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Treibball: A New Sport for Herding Dogs

Treibball or Drive Ball is one of the newest sports in the dog world. Instead of dogs using their natural skills to herd sheep, they push around large exercise balls. The goal of Treibball is to herd inflated exercise balls into nets that are of similar size and appearance to a soccer net.

Where Did the Sport Originate?  

Treibball, founded by January Nijboer, was created as an exercise to occupy herding dogs in Germany but then in 2009, the sport started gaining popularity in the United States.

Dianna Sterns, a nationally certified dog trainer who learned of this sport and loved that it was an opportunity for people to bond with their dogs, founded the American Treibball Association. Their membership expanded quickly to over 400 people in six different countries, which means the sport was growing just as she hoped it would. They currently have thousands of followers on Facebook.

Who is the Sport For?

This sport is appropriate for any sport-loving dog of any age. Specifically, Whole Dog Journal recommends this sport for dogs who like to chase, herd, have energy, and work well off-leash.

Treibball helps dogs build confidence and maintain impulse control. High-energy and high-anxiety dogs are able to burn both mental and physical energy, which provides them with a sense of calm after they exercise. Shy dogs are able to build confidence as they begin to navigate the sport and build a trusting relationship with their handler.

Even a few retired agility dogs have taken to the sport as an active retirement option since Treibball is low-impact. Further, because the sport requires very little athleticism from a handler, people of all ages can participate in this sport and bond with their dog.

How Do You Play?

Since this sport is played on a competitive level, there must be specific rules, right? Yes!

The playing field is about 100 to 164 feet long, 50 to 82 feet wide, and includes a net which provides the goal. Handlers have 10 minutes to have their dogs get eight balls into the net. The handler can choose what order the dog needs to work in as well. Handlers use a series of directional commands like “center”, “back”, and “over” to help their dogs navigate toward their goal.

Is There an Indoor Version of this Sport?

Yes, it’s called Urban Herding.

Depending on the organization or facility, trainers may refer to Treibball as urban herding because it is played indoors. The ability to play this sport indoors provides a much needed solution for keeping your energetic dog occupied during the winter.


Do you think Treibball and Urban Herding can be an exercise solution for your dog?  If so, reach out to the American Treibball Association and see if there are competitions or groups in your area.


Article By:
Rachel Sheppard 

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