Driftball was originally developed as a replacement activity and training sport for herding dogs. In this relatively young dog sport, the dog has the task of driving eight exercise balls into a goal. He is supported by his master with gestures and acoustic signals. In the meantime, Treibball has developed into a trend sport and is also played as a tournament sport.
Driftball as a substitute for herding dogs
As the name suggests, the cattle drive is simulated in the driftball. In this sport, the balls represent the sheep that have to be driven into the gate – the gate. Various elements are taken up that are important in herding work. The dog does not act on its own, but under the guidance of humans, it is not allowed to drive the balls around uncontrollably, but has to drive them into the goal. Similar to herding competitions, collecting and holding together, targeted driving, changing sides when driving cattle and other important subtasks of herding work are trained and evaluated in competitions.
The original purpose of the driftball sport to train and keep idle herding dogs busy is just one of the training goals in this young sport. The employment of herding dogs is also gaining in importance because herding dog breeds are enjoying increasing popularity even among owners who have no original task for their dog. Drift and herding dogs, which are kept as pure family dogs, can be challenged according to their disposition as part of the driftball sport. This strengthens the dog’s motivation as well as its willingness to cooperate and the bond with its owner.
Treibball also offers other dog breeds the opportunity to deepen the bond between humans and dogs. The sport requires close cooperation and brings dog and owner together as a team. Not only does the dog learn to be attentive to its owner, the human partner also has the opportunity to consciously check and refine their own gestures and voice signals with the driftball. In this way, communication between humans and dogs is also improved in everyday situations.
Last but not least, sport also mentally encourages the dog. Driving ball is not an endurance sport, but rather resembles a game of skill, in which precise work, a well thought-out structure and a high level of concentration are required.
Setup and rules of the game
A demarcated area of up to 50 meters long and 25 meters wide serves as the playing field for the driving ball. That corresponds to about half a soccer field. However, it should not be less than 30 meters long and 15 meters wide. The game is played with only one goal measuring 2 m x 3 m. Dog and owner play as a team at the Treibball, only one team competes at a time.
At the start of the game, the eight balls are arranged in a triangular shape at a distance of about 15-20 meters from the goal. The arrangement is roughly the same as that used in billiards, with the tip of the triangle pointing away from the goal. The dog and owner have their starting position next to one of the two goal posts. During the game, the keeper may only move so far from his position that he can still touch the goal post with his hand. However, the signals used for the driving work are optional. Both acoustic signals and gestures are permitted.
The game begins with the “outrun”, ie the sending off of the dog. From this point on, the dog has 15 minutes to drive all the balls into the goal. He should start with the ball at the top. In addition, there are different game variants, for example with different colored balls that should go into the goal in a certain order. The dog only uses its snout and body and receives the instructions from its owner. If he has successfully driven the last ball into the goal, the dog ends the game by going into the down position parallel to the goal, i.e. into the down position.