JoAnna Lou
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Dogs herd balls in a new sport from Germany

I've always wanted to try herding with my Shelties, but it’s not easy to find sheep in the New York City area! Nemo is also a little impulsive, so his interaction with a sheep or duck seems like a big wild card to me. I guess I’m a little worried he’d pounce on a duck or get run over by a sheep, though admittedly I know nothing about herding.

This week, I discovered a sport that could let us try herding without having to drive out to a farm. In Treibball, German for driving ball, dogs are directed by their human handlers to herd eight balls (which sort of look like exercise balls) into a net.

The sport originated in Germany in 2003 and competitions have been held since 2008.  Even if you have no interest in ever getting that serious, Treibball looks like a lot of fun.

Treibball has only recently come over to the United States. Some training schools have Treibball classes, but if you don’t have any in your area, there’s a Treibball book available so you can train at home.  You can also join the American Treibball Association Facebook group to meet other enthusiasts.

I know a lot of people who are always looking for activities to do with working breeds, but access to sheep is limiting. Treibball is a fun sport that is accessible to all families with dogs. With the winter coming up, I’m thinking it would be fun to set up a modified version of this game indoors with smaller playground balls.

Check out this video to see what Treibball is all about.


JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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