Welcome to Sheepballs
The Rules of Sheepballs
Collies do not want to CHASE, they want to catch. or block, to prevent the ball or sheep escaping.
They play a great role as goal keeper and boundary guardian.
Balls always live below eye level of the dog. No leaping or flying sheep
When the ball is yours the dog should not steal. Place your foot on the ball to stop this happening. If they stay out the ball will come to them.
Going round, or flanking sideways is about moving into position to catch the ball. Teach them how to do this, do not trick them into being in the wrong spot.
Sheepballs should be soft, easy to kick. You will need at least two, three is even better. Only use these balls for sheepballs, they should be locked away out of sight unless you initiate the game.
Collies are not retrievers. Their job is done when the ball is stopped. Begin a new game will ball #2.
Look at the ball you intend to kick all the time. As a predator your dog will know the point of your focus (it is tempting to watch the dog, but they are not the sheep). If you are walking down the street and focus on the dog/ car/ runner/bike coming towards you, so will the dog.
When they respond as we expect, reward. This will grow quickly, if they are not learning we shall need to examine what they are struggling with.
Teach the dog to swop between balls by changing your complete focus and activity to the other ball. This Ball Not That Ball is a skill to switch from one thing to another. Changing focus for extremely strongly focussed dogs is an essential skill. We cannot expect them to not chase traffic if they have not learned to switch between sheepballs.
If you are looking for help or courses to learn more about Sheepballs, always seek an approved member of our Teaching Team. They have proven their skills with their own dog, achieved a high standard of understanding and are skilful at arranging the learning to bring out the very best in your collie.
Individual tuition and coaching with the Sheepballs activities or for specialised help and support with your collie.
Hello there, that was a fantastic video of your gorgeous dog. Could you tell me where you got those balls from? We also have to have 2 balls for our boy to play with, the problem is he keeps losing them because he’s easily distracted by squirrels etc and he pops full size footballs with ease. Any recommendations would be great. Thanks
The large soft green balls are IKEA, strong, tear resistantfabric but they pick up the wet very quickly, wet days I use the Hollee Rollers – large
Hi, I’d really like to learn more about this as I have a border collie that loves herding and I teach a lot of collie owners, are you running any courses ?
We look at individual dogs and the way they play in The Setter members groups. The game is very individual to each dog.
The Build The Learning course features Sheepballs as one of the Learning Play activities.
You were recommended to me as I have BC who has strong herding instinct I would like some tips ideas on how to promote his predictor instincts
Hi Ruth, I am not quite sure what you are looking for but I would recommend the course as a starting point: https://www.learningaboutdogs.com/product/learning-about-border-collies/
Does this explain why my six month old collie is obsessed by tennis games, running round the court perimeter fence and has zero interest in being called back?!
All the more enjoyable when people are running around too !
Advise them to make sure the gate is shut
I love your comment about them not being retrievers! I’ve always played with two balls bc she comes most of the way back in fetch but only to drop it near me to focus on the next ball. She also loves to play Soccer and is an awesome goalie:) I’m in the US so is there more video or print material??
We spend much of our time teaching the dog to stay out, as that is the best place to control the situation, difficult to change a human view of bringing it close! Both the courses Learning About Border Collies and Sheepballs has plenty of material, next Sheepballs taught course will be in April next year. We enjoy devising challenges as no collie enjoys a boring game!
Can I book onto the April course please. I have a Border Collie. He will be 2 years old in April.
Very many thanks
Certainly – here are the details: https://www.learningaboutdogs.com/product/sheepballs-3/
I live in Australia, have Koolie/Border Collie/Kelpie x with a strong herding instinct. Do you have an online course I can do?
If you would like to join a Sheepballs course, I would recommend you make a short video of your dog playing the sheepball games so that we can see if their innate responses would be suitable for the course?
Hello, this is a great resource, thank you. I have had Alan, my rescue collie for about 4 months. He is nearly 3 yrs and settling well. We are beginning to embark on some training now.
Could you clarify what you mean about the Sticky Ball being in the hot zone? I thought the idea was that the ball was only kicked back to the dog if s/he got to the 11-1 o clock position?
“Sticky” is the dog, not the ball. She was a little cautious about moving on that floor (it is hollow underneath), and a dog with more desire to eye than flank can become a little sticky – stays on the same spot. Once they see their “sheep” escaping to the hot zone, they will begin to anticipate and move into position.