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.
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.