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If you haven't heard of treibball this is the new sport for dogs that consists of herding gym balls. We thought it looked a great idea and of course Jamie and Sasha had to have a go.
You don't need a large amount of equipment to start with. Just a gym ball, a dog and plenty of titbits. Jamie wasn't so impressed with the idea. The food bit was OK but pushing a ball along to get it, no thanks.
Luckily Sasha is a bit greedier and she quickly learned to push the ball to get at the food.
I've been teaching the dogs in separate stages. Jamie gave up when he realised it meant work but Sasha seems quite keen. The first stage was getting her to go round to the other side of the ball. At first we tried using a titbit in a bowl as a target but this didn't seem to work very well with Sasha.
Oh well, she is an agility dog so what better than hand signals? This worked much better and soon she was going round the ball quite well.
The next stage involves the wait when they get to the other side of the ball. This should be easy for agility dogs ha ha. It's also something that herding dogs do and it's known as the outrun. In the case of herding dogs they have to go quite a distance to get round the sheep and wait for the next command. We had a go or two or three in the garden and eventually our little training sessions paid off. Here Sasha's is starting to learn what to do.
Another stage of the training is to encourage the dog to push the ball along and this isn't always as easy as it seems. First of all, just like a real sheepdog, you musn't allow any biting or mouthing of the gym ball or it's going to go off bang and that will be the end of that. (I don't mean that sheep will go off bang if they're bitten of course, but they won't be too pleased.) It's a lot more difficult if you have two greedy dogs trying get the titbit at the same time.
Eventually Jamie gets fed up.
"If you're going to hide the food under that stupid ball all the time I'm not playing any more."
In the video you can Sasha has already learned to push the ball but she's still expecting to find the treat under it. Eventually she'll learn that the treat comes from me and it's for pushing the ball along.
I hope this has inspired you to try something new with your dogs. We're going to continue with the training and as yet I'm not sure where it will lead. It could be just a garden game or we could end up competing. Let's wait and see shall we? I'll certainly keep this page updated with progress.
Tuesday 15th November 2011 update:
Right, here's what I discovered about treibball today.
I took the dogs to our agility plot today along with the gym ball. (The plot is on the right. As I'm writing, the gym ball is in the loft)
The bread I was making had an hour to prove and the sun was shining so it was ideal. We did a bit of racing about and agility practice and then I pumped some more air into the gym ball.
Sasha went bananas. She ended up biting the see-saw in her excitement and then Jamie decided to join in. His idea was to try and kill the ball. I got him off it before he jumped right on top of it and did himself an injury. He is fourteen. Both dogs now think the idea is to kill the ball. We did manage a little successful pushing but Jamie has always been a big rough boy and he's a bad influence.
Both dogs were taken home after the see-saw incident and I went back with the paint. Just as I'd finished, the dark clouds came over and it's been threatening rain ever since. The bread had risen to two and and half times it's size and needed knocking back before being being set to prove again! The recipe will follow when I've perfected the cooking times and temperatures. (don't ask)
If you are still inspired to try out treibball you can buy a gym ball cheaply from ebay and you only need one to start with. Ours is currently a 65cm ball but if Jamie keeps joining in it will soon be a floppy bit of plastic with holes in. I thought it best to start with a smaller ball. In the unlikely event that we get good at treibball we can get a few more gym balls in different sizes. Good luck.
Wednesday 19th September
We've been having another go at Treibball and Sasha is getting the hang of it a bit more. Jamie will give the ball a little push but I think he would still like to kill it!
Here we are with our latest and rather noisy efforts. We've got as far as pushing the ball all the way down the garden and Sasha will stop behind the ball and wait for the signal to push. We need to work on the outrun now so that she'll run all the way up the garden and get behind the ball and stop.
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