Summer Treibball classes continue, all levels welcome

Next 5 week session runs Wed. July 10 through Aug. 14 (no class Aug 7th) at Love on a Leash in Harrisonburg VA. Students will learn to apply marker/reward, shaping, and targeting skills as they apply to treibball.  Any breed or mix can play this sport. Prerequisites are basic obedience, sports foundation class or equivalent. Dogs must be reliable to work off leash. At this time we have beginner to intermediate students in the class. All are welcome, and you will get personal attention working at your own level. Come join the fun! Wednesdays, 3:00-4:00. Details and class descriptions.

Fees: $75.00/5 weeks. Love on a Leash members, $60.00/5weeks

For registration and more info email Char: dogsontheball@gmail.com

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Treibball and the competition obedience dog…no herding required!

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

Words and music that never go out of style!

I’m a sucker for American classic pop music, and I use this Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen song as my training mantra. You really should click on the link here and listen to the Paul McCartney version of this great song: Accentuate the Positive (youtube, Paul McCartney version!).  It is a great tune to keep in your head along with the lyrics, and the lyrics go like this:

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative and don’t mess with Mr. in-between. Spread joy up to the maximum…no-oo, don’t mess with Mr. In-between!”

So apply this to your training (and pretty sound advice for living too!)-

  • accentuate the positive…” = Always acknowledge and reinforce desired behavior. i.e. look for what your dog is doing right and let them know it!
  • “eliminate the negative…” = Extinguish unwanted behavior by ignoring it (and reinforcing an alternate desired behavior).
  • “latch onto the affirmative…” =  Always be in positive mode. Our dogs should never be confused or stressed by our mood when training! If you can’t train happy, then stop and wait until you can.
  • “and don’t mess with Mr. in-between, no…!” = Don’t be wishy-washy. Know your criteria and keep it crystal clear, and be consistent.
  • “Spread joy up to the maximum…” = this should define our training and relationship with our dogs!

Happy training! Char

Treibball skills in a nutshell

So what are the elemental skills required to train and play treibball? Here is a brief summary:

Trainer skills include:

  • Cooperative working relationship with your dog
  • Positive reinforcement methodology
  • Good mechanics, clicker skills
  • Shaping, Targeting, Backchaining.

Dog Skills, Basic obedience:

  • Recall
  • Wait/stay
  • Sit, down
  • Heel position, right and left

More advanced obedience/distance  skills needed:

  • Send away/go out, to 35 feet and more
  • Distance wait, down, sit
  • Directionals- facing handler, and going away from handler
  • Walk up/on and wait

Specific Treibball skills:

  • Push ball- on cue, with good form and speed
  • Ball control
  • Ball selection on cue- back away, walk up, right, left, go on/out

Click here for videos