Got a herding dog and nothing to herd? How about a dog with so much energy you just don't know what to do? Tired of throwing a ball to play fetch for your ball-obsessed dog and looking for something else to break up the monotony?
Training your dog to push a ball may be just the ticket. You can train your dog to push a ball to play a game like soccer, or check out the new doggy sport, Treibball, where your dog pushes a large yoga/sport ball with his nose under direction from his handler. These activities not only give your dog great exercise, they promote the relationship between you, and your dog by reinforcing off leash commands and allowing you to spend quality time with your dog in a fun, positive way that your dog will enjoy. You might even get a little exercise too, or meet some new people if you choose to get involved in organized dog sports!
Teaching your dog to push a ball with his nose or paw, so that your dog can play doggy soccer or Treibball, is fun for your dog, and for you, and is a great relationship enhancing activity. If you are interested in playing Treibball with your dog, you can search for organizations with other dog owners in your area to connect with and play competitively. Treibball is played with 8 balls that are placed in a triangle, with a soccer goal on one end of the playing field. The object of the game is for the handler to direct their dog to push all 8 balls through the soccer goal, and then return to and lie down in front of the handler in under 15 minutes. Dogs may not bite the ball, and handlers may not punish dogs. Less formal games of soccer can be played by teaching your dog to push a soccer ball around a field, and even through makeshift goals made with pylons or other obstacles.
Treibball is played on a field 100-164 feet long and 50-82 feet wide. The ball must stay in bounds. Soccer can be played anywhere: in your backyard, on a soccer field, or in a park. Large yoga or sports balls can be used, or smaller balls such as soccer balls, volleyballs, or any recreational ball large enough for your dog to push with his nose. You may use treats to encourage and shape ball pushing behavior. Some dogs are so excited by just pushing the ball that the behavior is self-reinforcing. Remember this is supposed to be a fun game, there is no need to yell at or punish your dog. Training your dog good off-leash recall and other commands before introducing pushing a ball will make training go much faster, and be more fun for you and your dog, as your dog learns to use his off-leash commands to accomplish a fun task.