Thursday, February 16, 2012
Treibball is a competitive canine sport that originated in Germany. The sport is designed to give high-energy, active dogs the mental and physical stimulation they need to be happy, well-adjusted animals. In addition to the many benefits the sport offers our canine friends, Treibball is also good for pet owners – it’s a fantastic way to form a deep and abiding bond with your dog! The sport fosters communication and teamwork between a dog and his owner/handler on many levels.
What exactly is Treibball? Here are answers to common questions about the sport.
Who can participate?
The activity is good for dogs of all ages and sizes. It’s especially suited for active working dogs that do well off-leash. But don’t count out dogs that require special consideration because Treibball is a great activity for building confidence in shy dogs. It can also help reactive dogs with their impulse control issues. In fact, any dog that loves to play chase games, herd, or to use their intelligence and problem-solving skills will enjoy Treibball.
Is competing in Treibball similar to Agility?
Not really. Competing in Agility requires specialized equipment. Additionally, Agility requires a certain level of physical adeptness from the handler, who must have the ability to run with the dog and direct the dog through each obstacle. Treibball is good for encouraging the same type of teamwork and communication that Agility promotes, but it doesn’t require the same level of physical exertion from the handler.
What equipment is required for Treibball?
This is another thing that makes Treibball so accessible; the equipment is easy to find and relatively affordable. You use the same balls that humans use for exercising and stretching, those standard inflatable exercise balls (also called Swiss balls or Pilates balls) available at sports stores and department stores.
For Treibball, you want to use a ball that is at least shoulder height to your dog. Since these balls come in heights from 45 cm to 75 cm, if you are teaching Treibball to a tiny breed dog, you can start with a standard playground ball.
Where can I find Treibball classes?
The American Treibball Association (ATA) is a non-profit membership organization established to promote the sport throughout the United States. The ATA consists of individuals, trainers and clubs, and they encourage the formation of classes and sanctioned ATA competitions. Additionally, there is a Treibball Yahoo Group which has a list of training facilities that offer formal classes.
The sport is in its early stages in the States. As it gains wider acceptance, there will be more training classes; more people and their dogs will become involved in training and competing in this exciting activity.
Where kind of space does Treibball require?
At the beginning you don’t need a large space; you can train in a small yard. If you live in a home without a yard, it’s possible to train indoors. A hallway, a living room or even the small space between the couch and the coffee table will suffice. The best scenario, however, is a park with a flat field near your home. In the beginning, you don’t even need a ball.
How many balls will I need?
As mentioned, you can start training without a ball. Some dogs are overly excited by a ball and have a hard time calming down and focusing on their owner/handler when a ball is involved. Those dogs can still learn the sport. First teach them the basics: how to orient to you, run away from you for a distance and push things. These simple skills can be taught without the use of a ball. As your dog progresses through the training stages, balls will be added into the exercises. When you reach the more advanced stages of the competition, your dog will push eight balls into a goal.
How do you learn how to train for Treibball?
There are many different ways to learn successful Treibball training. The way that seems to net the best results is reward based training. This method teaches fast and reliable distance behaviors and encourages you to be creative and to experiment with different ways to set your dog up for success. The Treibball Yahoo Group is a great place to ask questions, share training tips and discuss best practices.
For more information, you can see videos of dogs in action on the American Treibball YouTube Channel and check out the Treibball Facebook Page.
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell