How to Teach The Basics of ‘Treibball’ or ‘Push Ball’: A Great New Game for Energetic Dogs!

How to Teach the Basics of Treibball with Lucy & Jessie This new sport involves 8 balls, 2 goal posts and your dog. Dogs are only allowed to move the ball with their nose or shoulders towards the goal. Each skill needs to be taught separately before being taught together. Start by Teaching a Nose Target on Your Hand. Add a verbal cue. Click and treat only closed mouth touches. To Increase the Amount of Pressure for Pushing, Teach Your Dog to Shut a Door Click and reward only nose touches. The tape helps her focus where you want her to touch. Fade the verbal cue once she has the idea. Remove, the tape, a visual prompt, a little later. Add a new cue “Push” once she is putting pressure on her nose. This is the new cue she will use to push the ball. She wants to use her front foot, so I will be watching for that and not click and treat if she does. Meanwhile, Teach other Ball Handling Skills: ‘go around’, ‘wait’ If your dog get excited about the sight of the ball, start with something less exciting about the same size. That way, she can learn the new behavior without becoming overexcited. The ‘wait’ will be changed to ‘push’ later but I want her to get the idea she needs to stop with the object between us, ideally facing me. She is also learning to watch for body cues. Brace the Ball Between Your Legs and Shape a ‘Push’ Low on the Ball Shape low pushes separately from hard pushes before combining them. Using wait time before you click will often get a lower push or a harder push-or both. From above you can see how much pressure Lucy nudges the ball with. Slow motion Since the finished behavior needs the dog to push the ball towards you (and the goal), always shape towards that. Lucy confidently pushes on a low spot on the ball. Use treat placement to line her up for the next push. Here are her first attempts before we shaped a harder, lower push. They are much more gentle and higher on the ball. Neither of these are wanted for this game. Face different directions to help her learn that pushing towards you is what you want. Stabilizing the ball allows you to isolate the dog’s movement’s in relation to the ball, without the ball moving. Substitute ‘push’ for the ‘wait’ cue wheh the dog is in position. When she is successful with that, start shaping her to push the ball more towards you. She pushes the ball directly at me. Get the Ball Moving At first, don’t worry about where on the ball or how hard she pushes. Just make sure she’s successful with a high rate of reinforcement. Lucy starts by using the same approach but quickly develops her own style. Even though she’s beside the ball, she goes back to the middle when cued to push. She discovers she can use her shoulder to control the ball. The side to side motion probably comes from her border collie heritage. Teach Her to Get Around Behind the Ball When It’s in a Corner Start with the ball a short distance from the corner. Then put it right in the corner so she learns to push it out. She drops her head for a low push to shove it out. Practice both sides. Add Distance (by asking for two, three or more pushes before a click and reward). A hallway channel helps to guide the ball at first, but fade its use quickly. Herding the ball seems to come naturally to Lucy. I am working on having her follow my arm signals. Take it to Different Environments and Surfaces. Start from the beginning. We practice low nose pushes before letting the ball go. Here’s a low push to control the ball. Jessie sticks with her technique. With new surfaces and more space, dogs often become more excited. Start from the beginning on each new surface and reward only nose pushes. Jessie tries pawing. That is not rewarded so she goes back to what works. Her nose pushes are hard. That’s great! At this point, I’ll click for either hard or low pushes, or both if she offers them. But I need to keep my criteria low so she can be successful on the new surface. Add pushing distance as before, and she starts lowering her push point while keeping a hard push. Increase YOUR distance from the ball. I send Lucy around the ball and back away as she pushes it towards me. Each session, start a little further back. Eventually, Stay Stationary and Send the Dog to the Ball. Add Goal Posts Because we add a new criteria, we start close. Add Distance by Backing Away I ask for more distance than we have trained so far. With some help from arm and verbal cues, she eventually targets the ball. Her return is more confident as she has more experience with this part of the game. Add More Balls and You are on Your Way to Playing Treibball! See the video description for links to the rules.

82 thoughts on “How to Teach The Basics of ‘Treibball’ or ‘Push Ball’: A Great New Game for Energetic Dogs!

  • @eileenanddogs The power of the clicker! More coming soon on training send outs (essentially go mat and fade the mat) and you can use our 'following pointing finger' video on supernaturalbc2008 to train ball selection.

  • I love this! I can't wait to get started. I will have to really work on my dogs not biting at the ball. The oldest has done this from the start, and I wasn't sure how to stop it, so I only use a basketball. But I think that with your ideas and my going back to just working on the cue of push, that I can get this re directed/change in behavior. I'll try to video our progress. Thanks sooooo much! Look forward to more of your great videos!

  • what a wonderfully thought out, and thorough explanation – the girls both look great! Must be fun with the two of them ; ]

  • @tehrenberg Yes, Jessie is enjoying having a sister. And Lucy is such a joy! Very much like my heart dog so we bonded quickly. Jessie seems to be okay with that too!

  • @azmauigirl Believe it or not, jessie is quite the ball biter when we play with a soccer or basketball. So persistence does pay. I also trained both dogs to nose push a carpet roll so it reinforces the push with nose only behavior. Any other behavior you can teach all reinforces this and doesn't reward the unwanted behaviors.

  • Thanks for telling me that Jesse bites the basketballs and soccerballs. There's hope yet! They're making good progress with the push on doors, so now we'll just keep expanding the items we push. Thanks for the encouraging response!

  • That is amazing. It's sheep herding, but without the sheep. I can see why a lot of dogs with herding instincts would absolutely love this game.

  • @suhaylett Check the video description for all that kind of info. In short, the ball should be shoulder to head height and should present only a moderate challenge for your dog to move it with a nose punch on the surface you are using.

  • Thank you for the reply, sorry I did have a quick look at info, but I'm a trainer and behaviourist in Uk and inundated at the moment. your time is appreciated.

  • you make great videos and are an awesome teacher. thank you! please keep making videos!!!

    seriously though- great videos

  • This is the step-by-step video I needed! It's very well done. I realize now that I was moving too quickly and skipping steps. Maggie (australian shepherd) and I are now making great progress thanks to you.

  • @mywebbedfeat Glad to hear it! It really does pay off to spend time at each step, especially at the nose targeting as once they start increasing arousal level, this becomes a default instead of the ball biting that so often occurs!

  • This looks like a great game to teach my BC.

    Im not sure i understand how you taught the wait command though.

  • @amackenzie1000 I have actually found it's better to teach a send out using a paw target, then cue a sit or down so the dog learns to start away from the ball. She still needs to know how to go 'around' in both directions though so teach the separately.

  • @ilovecanines They are just exercise balls, yoga balls or swiss balls. Available at larger chain stores as well as speciality shops. Normally used for core exercise, Pilates etc.

  • @wicowherder Some dogs transfer better if you use your hand in the spot at first, then open your finger so he actually touhces the door, then point at the spot, then fade your hand completely.

  • Thank you for this great video. I understand you use the click with a reward to teach that the click sound is for positive behavior. Do you fade out the treat at some point and just use the clicks? Is there any method to the clicks? What do you use to make the clicking sound?

  • Thank you for this great video. I understand you use the click with a reward to teach that the click sound is for positive behavior. Do you fade out the treat at some point and just use the clicks? Is there any method to the clicks? What do you use to make the clicking sound?

  • @cullyvan Each click is always followed by a reinforcement of some kind. The click is faded first (once the dog can reliably perform the finished behavior), then the treat and a different reward is used (a ball etc.). Finally, the game itself becomes rewarding for many dogs, like retrieving, herding etc. If you are interested in learning more about how to use the clicker, check out clickertrainingdotcom and clickersolutionsdot com. (I only spell it out as this message will not accept web links).

  • @cullyvan You can use the commerical clickers available at most pet stores or make a noise with your mouth (like a cluck or pop) or use a word that marks the behavior-such as "Yes!' ,'Yup!' etc. The more precise the sound, the better is it as a marker.

  • @Owwle That's what we were told she was. Mom was a BC for sure. From her behaviors though, I think she's either a pointer ro dalmatian, not lab. She ates water, smiles, points and is VERY birdy, squirrelly, rabbity. Runs like a pointer too. Loves trailing thing swith her nose. Found a sparrow nest in the ground the other day by sniffing backward on the parent's flight path. Any dog can do this! Check out the rat terrier I was training! D

  • I am going to try this with my dog! If I don't ever plan to be in competitions, I assume the same techniques would work if I used soccer balls or something? He already likes those type of balls.

  • @edwardtheinsane It's actually easier with larger balls, especially if your dog bites the smaller ones. otherwise you have ti go bcd and proof for the biting. As they get more excited about it, they tend to bite the ball.

  • @crocheter0808 Start with w]training the presence of, but not with any interaction with the ball. The ball should be far enough away that the dog can focus on you and be successful. Move it closer incrementally. Eventually have the ball right nearby but ask for other related behaviors such as 'go around'. If the dog can't focus, start with placing the ball on a chair or box above nose level, then lower it as the dog learns to control self.

  • @crocheter0808 Next ask for a nose push once in ten times. Then twice in nine etc. Only progress if the dog uses self control. Using a paw target or mat also helps give the dog a different focus than the ball. Train that separately without the ball present, then with it at a mistaken as before. (see one of my videos with the rat terrier on shaping a paw target for distance). Good luck!

  • @Pandaraze I love it as it takes little space or equipment ad can be done pretty much anywhere. Dogs seem to really enjoy it!

  • @Butterfort I know people that use the same cues for the same behaviours in different sports, while others make up different ones for different sports as they are worried they might mess up the already known cues. It depends on the level of training you plan to take your dog to. The more different scenarios the dog learns a cue, the more they are likely to start understanding them as a concept. (right or left, for example).

  • Concept training becomes handy when you have a novel situation and can use known cues to talk your dog through the new scenario without the dog ever having done a similar scenario in the past as in service dog training. It's pretty cool!

  • Love it! My Siberian Husky loves to herd everything, but just started to herd our basset hound, Sara. It's kind of funny but Sara isn't too thrilled about it. I've been wanting to look into treiball and came across your video. I'll start working with her on this soon. I think she'll love it!

  • @collbonz Glad you like it! Check out my other videos about teaching a paw target as they will come in handy later for send outs and when working with multiple balls. It's a great sport of ages and sizes as it is not as taxing on them physically as other sports can be.

  • This video seems great but got stuck at teach the dogs to even understand how to look at the door let alone touch it. Both my dogs know how to touch. What is the process for getting them to touch the door?

  • thanks for this video! I started teaching my pup how to play. I had already taught her to close cupboard doors and she knows how to target very well. I taught her to go around an object in two sessions, now she's learning to be on the opposite side of the object & learning to stay opposite of me. We've done two sessions with targeting the ball, it's really hard to click her sometimes because she gets over enthusiastic and wants to target the ball with her foot. We're getting there though!

  • Sounds like you are progressing well. If she continues to use her paw, try raising the ball off the ground (between your legs or in a box).

  • I've just been not clicking for a paw touch, she's starting to get it. so far she can push it about 2' away from me. Haven't gotten the whole 'directing' the ball to me yet, but I think thats the next step

  • Donna, great video. How do you teach the dog to understand your hand/arm signals of which direction to push?

  • Add them as the dog is pushing in that direction. The same process as capturing a behavior. (I have a video on that topic)

  • Special thank you for making this clip closed-captioned. My border collie, Molly will really enjoy this game.

  • Way cool! Thank you for taking the time to make a video. I think Treibball will be a great activity for my dog and this is a great help in planning how to train him.

  • Love love love how you put this together Donna. Very fun and straight forward…off to practice/play 😀

  • Your videos have been so helpful for me =) They're so detailed and your channel has so much unique information! Thanks for uploading!

  • I have an American Staffordshire Terrier- what size balls should be used -and specifically what kind of balls, and where to purchase?

  • Thank you for the ball size, now, what grain sand paper is used for the nails? Our Amstaff is a rescue and came with  ball obsession and nail  clipping fears; we have overcome the ball obsession and now continue working to  get the nails fear  conquered!  Thank you

  • Where did you get the gates that you used to create the goal? 🙂 

    This is a great intro to how to teach the game. 🙂 Love it.

  • I'm glad that I found this video. I have a black german shepherd and I really think he will enjoy this sport. Thank for the tips! I am guaranteed to be a cool Mommy now. 🙂

  • Ok, I need some help please people. how do Get my dog to actually touch my hand? He will just sniff, or lick :/ . Any help would be greatly appreciated, he is so eager for a job

  • Thanks for the awesome video! My Australian Kelpie tore her ACL about 6 months ago and the other one is on its way out, so until we can save up some money for another TPLO surgery, we have to keep the fetch to a minimum. I think treibball will be a good way to exercise her brain AND body. I am training for a company right now, but when I strike out on my own, I'd love to teach treibball classes because I am in LOVE with the correctionless, positive-reinforcement-only ruleset.

  • Love this very informative easy to understand tutorial. All of your videos are awesome. Thanks so much. I am starting this with several of my pups as soon as I get the balls. 🙂

  • I have to admit when I first saw videos of Treibball competitions I thought it looked boring, but after seeing this video of how to train it, it actually looks ridiculously fun. My 9 year old pittie mix Gypsy loves clicker training for learning new behaviors (and earning rewards lol) but I have been at a stand-still, I couldn't think of anything else to teach her. I am going to start this tomorrow, can't wait to get going! Thank you for posting this video!

  • How old does my dog need to be in order to start this training? Mine is only 4 months old….so I guess I have to wait a little. Right? ; )

  • Thanks for this great video. Looks so easy with a calm dog. My BC gets out of control through with a ball. We'll have to start over.

  • I am a veterinarian and am putting together a lecture on the various dog sports for other veterinarians. Do you mind if I use your video?

  • Can't wait to teach this to my deaf Aussie! It's perfect because everything here can be done with hand signals (sign language). Love it!

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