Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS TREIBBALL? Treibball is an exciting new dog sport that began in Germany a few years ago and was initially intended for herding dogs that needed a job. The sport is suitable for all types of dogs. The goal is for the person and the dog to work as a team. The handler directs the dog from a distance around a set of balls to push them into a goal one by one. In competition the dog's work is timed. Distance, time, and the number of balls  are some of the variables in the game.

What does the game of treibball look like?

Here are a several examples of NATE video title submissions for you to enjoy.


Are there rules to follow?  Treibball can be done just for fun, but there are also titles and competitions, for which there are rules.  The full set of rules for NATE are available in our Handbook and Addendums but the following highlights will give you an idea of what to expect.

  • Only flat-buckle collars (without tags) are allowed.  Electronic, citronella, prong, or slip (choke) collars are strictly forbidden on the competition grounds.
  • The dog enters the playing field on leash; the leash is removed for game play.  The handler may not touch or physically restrain the dog once the leash is removed and until the completion of the run (i.e. all balls have been retrieved into the goal space and the dog is in a down position, or maximum time has ended.)  
  • Timing begins when the dog's nose crosses the forward line of the Handler's area.  The dog is sent to a point position behind the Point Ball (the ball farthest away from the goal at the tip of a triangle -- see photograph above).
  • After waiting 3 seconds at Point Position, and receiving a push command, the dog pushes the balls (using nose or chest or top of head) into a goal area.
  • Course times and the number of balls in play vary according to the level of competition:
    • Pre-Novice: 2 min 25 seconds; dog must push 3 balls, but each is placed on the field one at a time
    • Novice: 2 minutes; 3 balls are placed on the field in a triangle configuration, and dog must push all three into the goal space
    • Intermediate: 3 minutes (6 balls)
    • Advanced: 4 minutes (8 balls)
  • Food or toys maybe used to reward the dog AT PRE-NOVICE ONLY, within the Handler's area, at the completion of each ball being pushed into the goal space.
  • Competition may be held either indoors or outdoors, on any surface deemed by the judge to be safe.

Other treibball organizations will have slightly different rules.

What kind of balls are used in Treibball?  The balls are inflatable exercise balls. Some people know them as Pilates balls or Swiss balls. They are the same balls used for human exercise and stretching.

Where do you get the balls?  You can buy them at sports stores, at national chain department stores (like Walmart or Target in the US) or online.

How large of a ball do I need to use?  NATE has set six height classes, and ball height varies accordingly.  We aim for the ball to be shoulder height or higher for the dog. The balls come in heights from 45 cm to 75 cm, but different brands might vary slightly in size when inflated. For tiny breeds, you may want to start on a playground ball. For giant breeds, you may need to train them on a smaller ball and/or to push with their chest.

How many balls will I need?  In competition, three balls are used at the Novice level, six at Intermediate, and eight at Advanced.  But you can actually begin to train important foundation skills without even having a ball. Many of NATE's teachers do this because many dogs are very excited by a ball and can’t calm down or focus. You can begin by teaching your how to orient to you, run out at a distance away from you, to stop at a target, to and push things other than balls. 

What size training field do I need?  The initial stages of training can happen in a small yard or even indoors in a hallway or living room. If there is a park with a flat field near your home you could do training there as well. Competition requires the following field sizes:

  • Novice: playing space must be 35 feet wide and 50 feet long, with an additional goal space and Handler area.  (See the Handbook for an explanation of the Handler area.)
  • Intermediate and Advanced: playing space must be 50 feet wide and 75 feet long

Is there One Way to train Treibball?  There are as many different methods of training dogs successfully as there are dog/handler combinations.  NATE supports and encourages the use of reward-based training. NATE discourages coercive, punitive, intimidating or forcible training techniques. Handlers who use abusive methods in competition will be eliminated. Reward-based, force-free training is the dog-friendly way to get fast and reliable distance behaviors to set your dog up for success.

Where can I find Treibball trainers?  NATE's Trainer Locator has a list of training facilities that offer training classes.

NATE Members have access to a growing library of Training Resources.


Can anyone host a competition? Yes, although an organized training school or club will find it easiest to assemble the necessary equipment and volunteers.  Individuals may host, and do not need to be members of NATE to do so.

What do I have to do to host a competition?  Details of this process are found in our Handbook and Addendums but include the following:

  • Host a sanctioned trial.  Handlers do not need to be members of NATE, and dogs do not need to be registered with NATE, to participate in a Sanctioned Match; however, NATE rules are to be applied.
  • Submit a Host Trial Site Approval form (available here) including video of dogs working at a Sanctioned Match (see above).
  • Upon approval as a Host, submit a Sanctioned Trial Application.

The Trial Host will need the following staff for their event:

  • A NATE-approved Judge
  • Timer
  • Gate/Leash Steward
  • Field Steward/Ball Setter(s)
  • Scoring Steward

Contact NATE     PO Box 2306, Aptos, CA 95003     

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software