What Is Urban Herding?
Urban Herding also called Treibball (pronounced “tribe ball” or “try ball”) is a dog sport that originated in Germany. It became a competitive sport around 2008. In this canine sport the dogs “herd” large exercise balls into a goal. Dogs use their nose and body to push the balls. They are not allowed to bite the balls at all. The order that the balls go into the goal matters.
Any dog can participate in this sport, it is not limited to herding breeds. This is a great sport for increasing your bond with your dog because you are an important part of the game. You will stand by the goal and give your dog verbal cues to help guide him. You will need to guide him to pick the right order to push the balls into the goal, to help him guide the balls to the goal, and also to cue him to sit or lay down when he has pushed all the balls into the goal. And you will have to get him to do this within the time required. You will have to do all this while staying in the handler area.
Dogs can compete at 5 different levels in this sport. These levels include beginner, intermediate, excellent, champion, and honers. Each level of competition will bring more challenges. The order that the balls are meant to go into the goal will become harder. In addition, some levels will add obstacles. Things like gates, ditches, and hills will make the herding harder.
Who Can Play Urban Herding?
Any dog is allowed to play Treibball. Dogs of all sizes, ages, breeds, and abilities are welcome to play Treibball. Also, the physical depends are very low on the hander. So, just about any human can be a handler! Which makes this a very inclusive canine sport.
This is especially a great game for people who don’t have as much energy as their dogs. They can wear their dogs out without needing to move that much themselves. A game like Treibball is a wonderful way to burn extra energy so that you can avoid your dog engaging in destructive behaviors from boredom.
Balls: You will need three-eight exercise balls. The exercise balls used vary in size depending upon the size of the dog. The balls used as “sheep” should come up to the dog’s shoulder. However, you can use a variety of sizes if necessary. Using a variety of colors is also a good idea.
Goal: You will need something to mark the goal area. This might be a kids size soccer goal or a couple of lawn chairs against your fence.
Collar: All you will need is a plain, flat collar. Prong collar, choke chains, shock collars, and slip collars are all forbidden. A leash is also used to bring your dog on and off the field.
Toys and Treats: At a beginner level toys and treats can be given to the dog as a reward. Of course, during training toys and treats are used to help train the dog with positive reinforcement.
Space To Train: You can do initial training in a hallway, living room, or fenced back yard. For the competition, you will need a space that is 35-50 feet for nocive and a space that is 50-75 feet for advanced and intermediate.
Urban Herding Training
Urban herding is trained using positive reinforcement training only. You focus on rewarding behaviors that you want. Never will you punish a dog during your Treibball training. Training will be reward-based and force-free.
Before starting urban herding you will want to make sure that your dog is already able to work off-leash, come when called, stay, lay down, turn right and left, target an object, and run away from you. It will also work best if your dog is well socialized. This will help him to remain calm during competition.
You will need to train your dog to run away from you, turn in a clockwise manner to face you, and then pause or lay down for 5-seconds. Practice over short distances and slowly increase the distance. It helps to have a small cloth as a target for the dog to aim for and then lay on.
Once your dog will run to the target and then turn to face you, it’s time to make things harder. Place a small object between you and the target. Send your dog to the target and give a big reward if he goes to the target and lays down on it. Slowly increase the size of the object until the dog can’t see the target on the other side of it.
Next, you will need to start getting rid of the target. You won’t be able to use the target in competition. You can start to do this by making the target smaller and smaller. Cutting it a little smaller every time until it is no longer there. Be sure to reward your dog big when he goes and lays down even without the target.
You will then want to practice this cue in multiple locations with several different items in between you and the place you would like the dog to lay down. Be sure to especially try it with a few different sizes, colors, and styles of balls.
The next thing that you are going to want to teach your dog is to push the ball. Using a clicker for this part is a great idea! Put the ball out on the floor and click if your dog shows interest, then reward him with a treat. The dog will eventually start to interact with the ball more, nosing it or moving it. Click and treat. It is especially important to click and treat anytime he pushes the ball toward you! Don’t click and treat if he paws or bites at the ball as this frowned upon in competition.
Once your dog is reliably pushing the ball toward you increase the distance you are from the ball. Do this slowly and work up to a larger distance. Reward your dog for controlling the ball and pushing it toward you. Work on precision first and then start to reward controlled speed. You can also add a cue at this point to lets the dog know that you want him to bring the balls to you.
Lastly, you just need to add the finishing touch. When your dog brings the ball to you have him lay down facing you. You can just use your normal “down” cue for this.
Next, you will add a second ball to the mix. Place the balls about 5 feet away from you. Send your dog away as normal and encourage him to bring you the ball that is closest. Then send him out for the second ball. Slowly increase the distance that your dog needs to bring the balls.
Once your dog has mastered this stage decrease the distance and add another ball. Then slowly increase the distance. Continue in this fashion until your dog can work with 8 balls. Once he can do this practice in different places, your back yard, front yard, indoor training area, a friend’s yard, etc. This will help him to understand that you want him to bring the balls to you, even in strange environments.
You can do a lot of this training on your own but it can be super fun to train with a class! If you are interested in finding a trainer you can check out the American Treibball Association or call your local dog training center and ask if they have a Teibball class.
Treibball is an excellent way to work your dog both mentally and physically. This makes Treibball a great activity to help your dog burn off excess energy. Urban Herding uses only positive reinforcement for training so its a great bond builder too!
Any size, breed, or age of dog can play Treibball. Also just about any human can be a handler. Even those who are not in the best physical shape. This makes urban herding one of the most inclusive canine sports. So, get out there and have fun with your dog!