Treibball is a relatively new German sport. Originating in 2003, it was developed by January Nijboer as a game for herding dogs in order for them to have something to do when they did not have access to livestock. For this reason, the balls are sometimes referred to as rolling sheep. Since 2008, dogs and their handlers have been enjoying this fun dog sport. The objective of this game is for the dog to push eight large balls, (think pilates or exercise balls), which are initially set into a triangle, into a soccer goal using its nose or shoulders. He may not bite, nor break the balls in any way. The handler stays in an outside area, in an 18-foot radius, which includes the left half of the soccer goal and a few feet beyond it. From there, he instructs the dog with voice commands, whistles and/or hand signals in order for the dog to put all the balls into the goal within an allotted time.
A Treibball playing field is 100 to 164 feet long, by 50 to 82 feet wide. All eight balls must stay within the boundaries of the play area. Dogs have 15 minutes to drive all the balls into the goal. The fastest team with the fewest errors wins. There are numerous other rules when competing in this interesting sport. However, you don’t need to compete in order to enjoy it. Training for it is a terrific way to promote teamwork and attention. Any size dog, large or small, can participate. Any breed of dog with a strong prey drive will enjoy this game, not just herding breeds. It’s an especially fantastic sport for energetic dogs who need to burn off energy and challenge their minds. Dogs that are reactive to other dogs can also participate, as there is only one dog-handler team on the field at a time. What’s more, it is an inexpensive and low impact sport.
For more information or to get started in this sport, go to the American Treibball Association at http://www.americantreibballassociation.org. According to their website, ATA “is the only member-centered 501(c) 3 non-profit, dedicated to the teaching and training for Treibball in North America. The ATA founded and established the American rules for Treibball competition in 2010, and is the primary resource for competitive trial, workshops and training academies, throughout the United States and Canada.”