Training Treibball: Basic Skills

treat dispensing ballSo there are several skills a dog needs to compete in a Treibball tournament:

  • Following commands at a distance (including directionals)
  • Sending “out” to a spot beyond an object
  • A “wait and watch” command
  • A command to push the ball toward their handler

We’ve been working on all of these things individually and then trying to put various pieces of them together.

Learning to Drive

To teach Riley to push the ball with her nose we started with a toy car. Since she already has a push command that has to do with her feet (she’ll push open a door), we’re using “drive” as her command for this. To teach her to push at it, Suzie put a treat under the car so that she had to push it out of the way to get the treat.

She got that fairly quickly and we transitioned to no treat under the car, and instead pushing the car on cue and then receiving a treat.

Then we started over with another object—this time a foam roller. She wanted to eat the roller, but we actually had better success with a ball.

I’d worried she was going to be a biter. Dogs aren’t allowed to bite at the balls in Treibball—they lose points—but she did great, learning to push the ball for a treat on command.

Out and Around to a Target

For this we started with the idea of sending Riley out and around an object to a target. To train this we set up an object (in this case a set of plastic bins) with a target on the far side. She already knows how to target, so the idea was to teach her to do it by going to the left of the object (since in Treibball the initial send out must be to the left) and then waiting on the target.

She had some initially difficulty understanding the concept of going around things; ultimately we had a breakthrough when I mixed up training by playing 101 things to do with a box and then sent her around the box. She finally got that the command had something to do with this “thing” between us, and it was just another thing she was doing with the box!

Once we got the concept we added in the ball, so she learned to go “on by,” or to the left around the ball, and then to a target. We’re still having some difficulty if there isn’t a target there with where she’s supposed to stand, but she’s getting better.

We’ve had three lessons at this point and she’s gotten pretty good at going out and around the ball to a target—she can do this even if the distance is the entire length of the room.

Wait and Watch Me

Once she was at the target she needed to pause and wait for further directions. Since Riley likes to jump the gun and “guess” what I’m going to ask her to do next instead of waiting for the actual command (or listening to what command I’m actually giving her) we had some very interesting results while teaching this.

We started out just asking for a sit or a down on the target; eventually this transitioned into a “wait” command (which I’ve been using as a pause when I’m doing things like going out the door anyway).

Still, when she gets fed up with waiting she goes about and does the routine entirely on her own. In one of our lessons we had out 2 balls and were practicing going to targets behind each ball on command — she decided she was bored and I wasn’t moving fast enough, so she went to a target, then walked up behind the ball and pushed it to me, all on her own.

Where We Are Now

We’re still only working with one ball, and we’re still only really successful if there’s a target on the floor to use, but Riley’s getting the idea. She hasn’t quite figured out that she’s supposed to push the ball to ME yet—but hopefully that’ll happen in due time.

This weekend there’s actually a Treibball fun match in our area, hosted by our training facility, so we’re going to go and give it a go. Since it’s a fun day it’ll mostly just be like a training practice, but in a more realistic setting. It’ll be in a place she’s never been before and with other people in the room (although no dogs, thankfully).

I’m trying to keep my expectations low. I’m really nervous though because the facility where they are holding the match doesn’t allow prong collars in the building; I use a prong collar because when Riley gets distracted by another dog sometimes it elevates to the point where she can pull me across the room. A prong collar has proven to be the only way to get her attention back in those cases. Still, she’s not dog agressive, so if she pulls loose she’ll just go say hi; and if the worse possible case is me making a fool out of myself because I land on my ass, so be it.

 

 

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