Do you need competition obedience background to play treibball? No. The necessary skills can be trained within the context of the sport itself. BUT the point is that if you are a competition obedience trainer and want to want to try a new sport that is very compatible with those skills in fun and creative new ways, try Treibball! I think you will appreciate and enjoy how much crossover training is involved.
My dogs and I have done lots of competition obedience and Rally over the years, and in training for Utility I came to appreciate what “distance work” really meant. After tons of reinforcement for heeling at my side and coming to front, I now had to teach my dogs that going away from me and taking direction at a 50 foot distance was also a good thing! Now for some dogs this comes easier than others. Some herding and hunting breeds are especially predisposed to working away from the handler. Not so for my 2 mixed breeds, which are a whippet mix and a “mystery” terrier mix. Training these two for distance work took some time, and it was worth it in the end. Over time they learned the go-outs with directed jumping and signals, etc. very well. And the key for me was to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce-“out there”- away from me-where they needed to be to do the exercises. For me, distance work is one of the most gratifying skills to train. It builds confidence and shows real teamwork to maintain that kind of attention and be able to work from afar.
Enter Treibball. Now we really needed to work on distance skills. Many who come into Treibball have herding and/or agility background. My dogs and I have neither (save for 2 agility titles, just enough to say that we “did it”). But having those utility go-outs made training the “send-away” to behind the balls a fairly easy transition. It took me a little while to figure out how I wanted to train what I refer to as the “clockface directionals”. But I have done that by envisioning a clockface and cueing accordingly for 3 O’clock or 9 O’clock, from the handler’s position at 6 O’clock. And retrieving…well, Treibball is basically a retrieving game, except the balls are pushed instead of being carried. Any of the obedience retrieve exercises- open dumbbell and utility directed glove retrieve- plus the directed jumping exercise, all provide a good foundation for teaching a selected ball drive. And the utility signal exercise and the open drop on recall provide skills needed for cueing positions behind the balls. And the recall to front- the perfect foundation for orientation to handler with the ball.
Are we fast and flashy on the treibball field? No, that’s just not our style. But we do get the job done and have fun doing it! It is most gratifying to utilize skills from another sport in a brand new and creative way. So while herding and agility can be a great fit with treibball, I have found that competition obedience by itself is also an excellent fit with treibball. I would also say the reverse-that Treibball would be an excellent foundation sport for any of the other sports mentioned, and fun for any dog and handler! Here is my 13 year old Abby, who is just learning Treibball after a lifetime of Rally and Obedience. Definitely not a herding dog! http://youtu.be/FuZnC_ytpP0