Triebball allows the average owner to work a herding dog
Growing up, the smartest dog I ever met was a border collie who lived with neighbors. The dog never wandered, never bit and rounded up the neighborhood children, heading them back to their respective homes at supper time. From the time I was a toddler, I wanted a border collie. They are smart, fast, agile and independent thinkers.
Unfortunately all the same things that make this breed so spectacular also make it a master destroyer of homes when bored.
A majority of American dogs who end up in shelters do so because of behaviorial problems. And in most cases the animals either are not trained properly or owners go for appearance and ignore the reasons for which the dogs were originally bred.
Border collies were bred to round up sheep. They are designed for independent thinking, constant motion and chasing errant creatures. Without almost constant activity these dogs quickly become bored and destructive. And a 50-pound dog lose in a home all day while the owner is at work do a lot of damage.
In America owners of herding dogs sometimes can access creative options for activity. Farmers keep sheep, chickens, turkeys or ducks for herding. Dogs can romp with cows and horses.
One border collie breeder owned property and dragged lures behind her jeep encouraging her to chase the vehicle as she did her daily chores.
Another spent three days a week in a lakeside trailer in the summer, encouraging her dog to dock dive.
But what's the average dog owner to do?
Now there are a couple of options just about any dog owner can manage. A variety of companies make and sell down sized agility equipment suitable for the average back yard or basement. Dogs are run through weave poles, over obstacles and through tunnels. A 30- to 60- minute practice per day works out the dog's body and mind.
Another option is triebball. It's a modern option based on a dog's herding instinct. Instead of the prerequisite animal, large balls, approximately 2-feet in diameter and heavy enough not to blow out of an enclosed space - think an exercise balance ball - are released in a yard or field.
The term is a lose translation for herding activity and is a relatively new activity in America. A goal such as a hockey goal is placed in one end of the field. The dog is then taught to gather the balls, prodding with his or her nose, and nudging them into the field goal. Feet and teeth are against the rules.
The game requires a dog to use his herding instinct, problem solving skills and critical thinking to determine the path of the ball, keep it from rolling away and nudge it into the goal.The dog's natural instinct to herd will kick in. Praise and positive encouragement combined with small treats to provide additional positive reinforcement will quickly. Remember, the goal of the game is to provide the dog with a positive activity to release energy and to have fun.
And whenever you are working with your dog, remember, you gain more flies with honey than vinegar. A dog will respond better, faster and more happily to positive training than to punishment.
And once taught, your dog can practice in the yard for hours on end, if that is his or her choice. And a tired dog is always a better behaved one.