Ultimate Guide to Herding Balls for Dogs

Filed in Dog Products on September 17, 2021

Ultimate Guide to Herding Balls for Dogs

If you’re looking for a new interactive toy to keep your pup busy, then a herding ball might be the option for you.

These large balls, often made out of plastic, may help reduce your dog’s boredom and unwanted behaviors. Note: herding balls can be used with most dogs, not just ones bred for herding.

In this article, I’m going to explain what herding balls for dogs are, why you need one, and list some of the best on the market. So, let’s get started.

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What Is A Herding Ball For Dogs?

Belgian Shepherd playing treibball

Belgian Shepherd playing Treibball

A herding ball for dogs is a large and heavy ball, usually made out of plastic. It was designed for dogs bred for herding to release some energy and not chase their owners.

Your dog plays with the ball by pushing it with its nose or chest and chases it around the garden.

They can also play the game Treibball with it. Treibball is a competitive game where owners and dogs work together.

The idea of the game is to drive the ball into the back of a net using commands for your dogs, such as verbal commands, hand signals, and whistles.

What Breeds Are Herding Dogs?

Border Collier pushing herding ball

Border Collier pushing herding ball

There are so many breeds of herding dogs that I can’t list all of them without taking up too much time.

But I’m going to name a few for your knowledge:

  • Border Collie
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • German Shepherd
  • Collie
  • Berger Picard
  • And so many more

As I already mentioned, so many dogs were bred for herding, and you can check out a more extensive list here.

But here’s the thing: It’s not just herding dogs that can play with herding balls; any dog can enjoy them if they’re trained to play with them.

Benefits Of Herding Balls

Bored dogs equal naughty dogs, which is why it’s so important to keep your dogs stimulated with toys. And that’s what herding balls can do for you, but here are a few behaviors herding balls can help fix:

  • Digging
  • Barking
  • Chasing people or bikes
  • Trying to herd people
  • Nipping peoples legs
  • Chewing

These behaviors can get unruly if your herding dogs aren’t stimulated correctly. And this is why herding balls are so vital.

As a side note, if you wanted other ideas on how to keep your dog busy, I’ve written articles on fun things to do outside with your dog and on the GoDogGo Fetch Machine.

Different Size Herding Balls

Okay, herding balls come in different sizes due to certain breeds having bigger mouths than others.

Your herding ball shouldn’t be able to fit in the mouth of your dog. So to help you out, I’m going to give your a rough guide on what to look out for.

Just remember, this is just a rough guide, so you should make sure to check out the manufacturer’s guide before purchasing one.

  • 0-20 lbs – 4.5” ball
  • 20-60 lbs – 6” ball
  • 60-110 lbs – 10” ball
  • 110+ lbs – 14” ball

Again this is just a rough guide, and it all depends on the size of your dog’s mouth.

Dangers Of Herding Balls

Unfortunately, all dog toys pose a certain amount of danger, and it’s important to know what they are before you make a purchase.

So, here’s the main issues I’ve found with herding balls:

  1. The surfaces can become very rough, which means they can cut your dog’s nose. You can sand down the edges to prevent this from happening.
  2. Your dog can easily run into things if they are only paying attention to the ball, which is why they need a lot of room.
  3. If your dog is aggressively trying to chew the ball, its teeth can grind down, which can cause huge issues.

These are the main problems I’ve found with herding balls. If your dog is trying to chew the herding ball, you should take it away from them to prevent grinding their teeth.

Best Dog Herding Balls

So, you know a little bit about herding balls, but you don’t know which ones you should purchase. Well, this is where I’m here to help. I’ve listed five of the best herding balls on the market.

Check them out:

Jolly Ball – Best Overall Dog Herding Ball

$34.95
16 new from $26.66
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 12, 2021 8:55 am

Specifications

  • Size: 4.5” to 14”
  • Weight: 0.15 lbs to 2.2 lbs
  • Material: Plastic
  • Color: Blue, Red, Purple
  • Breed Recommendations: Small to Large Breeds

The Jolly Ball Push-N-Play is one of the top recommended herding balls for dogs. It comes in varying sizes so that you can match the size of the herding ball to the size of your dog.

Jolly Ball is made with plastic, which gives the ball resistance against a dog that likes to chew its toys. If you want to make it a more challenging experience for your pet, you can fill it with sand, water, or gravel.

You can also use the Push-N-Play on the water to give your dog a more varied experience without the fear of the ball sinking.

Features

  • Super Durable Material: They use plastic to increase the toy’s durability, so your dog doesn’t chew through it.
  • Multiple Sizes: The company understands that not all dogs are built the same, so they made the ball in different sizes.
  • Land Or Water: It’s designed to float so your dog can play on land or water.
  • Made In The USA: The product is made in the US and supports local organizations providing shelter dogs’ toys.

Pros

  • It keeps your dog entertained for hours
  • It’s pretty much indestructible
  • Multiple sizes for your dog

Cons

  • The ridges are sharp and can cut your dog’s nose (you should sand it down)

Banfeng Giant 9.5″ Dog Tennis Ball – Best For Dogs With Small Mouths

$14.25
Amazon.com
as of October 12, 2021 8:55 am

Specifications

  • Size: 9.5”
  • Weight: 0.68 lbs
  • Material: Felt and Rubber
  • Color: Yellow
  • Breed Recommendations: Small dogs

The Gaint Banfeng herding ball resembles a giant tennis ball. It’s made with rubber and felt material, so it’s easy on your dog’s teeth.

The herding ball is 9.5”, making it great for dogs of all sizes. But it is inflatable, so we find it’s better for small dogs, so they don’t puncture the ball.

Due to the ball being inflatable, your dog can enjoy the ball on land or water. No matter where you are, your dog is going to love it.

Features

  • Deflatable: You can deflate the ball, making it easy to store away when your dog is not using it.
  • Made With Rubber: They use soft materials to protect your dog’s teeth if they like chewing their toys. It also makes it softer for your dog’s nose, so your dog doesn’t hurt itself.
  • Non-Toxic: Your dog’s health is essential, which is why it’s made with non-toxic materials.

Pros

  • Soft for your dog’s safety
  • Relatively lightweight, so it’s easier for small dogs.
  • It can float on water

Cons

  • Not suitable for large dogs
  • Some people said the pump nozzle wasn’t in the pack

Doggie Dooley – Best For Medium Dogs

$21.99
9 new from $21.99
2 used from $20.23
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 12, 2021 8:55 am

Specifications

  • Size: 6” to 14”
  • Weight: 0.36 lbs to 2 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Color: Varied Red, Orange, Blue
  • Breed Recommendations: All size breeds

The Doggie Dooley herding ball is made with hard plastic, making it perfect for your dogs that love pushing. And thanks to the hard plastic, it’s pretty much indestructible.

It was designed to be chewed, so you’ll have to select the correct size ball for your dog. Luckily the company provides a sizing guide, so you don’t make a poor purchase. Ideally, the ball shouldn’t fit inside its mouth.

They also come in different colors, but unfortunately, you can’t choose which color you want; it’s just the luck of the draw.

Features

  • Multiple Sizes: You can choose the size that best fits your dog, so it’s unable to get its mouth around the ball.
  • Multiple Colors: The ball comes in one of three colors (red, orange, blue); unfortunately, you don’t get to choose.
  • Durable: The herding ball is very durable to you have peace of mind it won’t get damaged.
  • It Floats: If your dog loves swimming, you can use it in the swimming pool or a lake.

Pros

  • It will last forever thanks to the materials being so durable
  • Multiple sizes s you can find the right one for your dog
  • Heavy enough to take effort to push it

Cons

  • If the ball is too small, your dog will ripe right through it.

TIHOPAR – Best For Tiny Dogs

$26.90
2 new from $26.90
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 12, 2021 8:55 am

Specifications

  • Size: 5.12”
  • Weight: 0.325
  • Material: High-Performance EVA
  • Color: Blue or Yellow
  • Breed Recommendations: Tiny Dogs

They made the herding ball out of high-performance EVA material, giving it a soft texture, and it will also never deflate. That means you won’t need a pump, and it will never get punctured or lose its shape.

It’s only 5.12” and weighs 0.39 lbs, so you should only purchase this ball if your dog is tiny.

One of the most excellent features of the herding ball is the unique massage points. These unique points allow your dog to massage its face and nose as it plays with the ball.

Features

  • Non-Toxic: The ball is designed with EVA (rubber), which is non-toxic to your dog, so you don’t have to worry about their safety.
  • Very Soft & Durable: It’s very soft, so your dog won’t hurt itself, and durable enough not to break if it gets its mouth around it.
  • It Floats: You can play with the ball on water thanks to the floating design.
  • Two Colors: The ball is designed with two bright colors, making it easier for your dog to find.

Pros

  • No need for a pump
  • It can float on water
  • Very durable construction

Cons

  • Very small, so it’s only suitable for a tiny dog

Boomer Ball – Best For All Sizes

$40.00
4 new from $23.76
Amazon.com
as of October 12, 2021 8:55 am

Specifications

  • Size: 4” to 10”
  • Weight: 0.21 lbs to 0.56 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Color: Red or Blue
  • Breed Recommendations: All Breed Sizes

The company claims the ball is virtually indestructible, making it perfect if your dog loves destroying toys. It’s made with polyethylene, which is what gives the herding ball so much durability.

Due to the hollow design, the ball floats in the water, which means your dog can enjoy playing in the water with their new toy.

If you’re looking to keep your dog entertained for a few hours, then this is an excellent option for you and your pet.

Features

  • Tough & Durable: It’s made with a reliable and robust material, so you don’t have to worry about it being destroyed.
  • It Floats: The hollow inside means the ball can float in the water giving your dog more options to play.
  • Great Variations In Size: They have a size ready for any dog to play with.

Pros

  • Made with hard plastic so your dog can’t bite it
  • Smooth edges that don’t hurt your dog’s nose
  • Super durable and very well made

Cons

  • Dogs have been known to grind their teeth down

Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, you probably have some questions about herding balls, so in this section, I’m going to try and answer all your burning questions:

1. How To Use A Herding Ball

The idea of a herding ball is to train your dog to move the ball around with its nose. Traditionally the balls are too heavy and large to pick up with their mouth.

The trick is to train your dog to use the herding ball correctly, which is what we’re going to cover in the next section.

2. How Can You Train Your Dog To Herd A Ball?

Dog bumping chest into purple ball

Okay, if you want your dog to use the herding ball correctly, you’re going to have to train your dog to use it. In this section, I’m going to explain the essential training tips you need to know.

But before we get into some tips, let’s introduce you to some of the things you need to get started:

  • A Large Space: Your dog needs plenty of space to play with a herding ball, so it’s something to consider for the training.
  • Herding Ball: It should be obvious, but without a herding ball, your training isn’t going to go very far.
  • Treats: The best way to train your dog to do anything is to reward them with treats.
  • A Goal: If you want to play treibball, then you’re going to need a goal. This could be a football net, or you could place to poles as a goal.
  • Patience: It’s something that you could never have enough of when you’re training a dog.
  • Time: It kind of goes hand in hand with patience. But training your dog takes a lot of time, so make sure you have plenty of it.

One of the best things about this game is your dog can play it pretty much anywhere as long as you have enough room.

When it comes to training your dog to play with the herding ball, you have three methods:

  1. The Touch Method
  2. The Opposite Method
  3. The Nose Touch Method

Today, I’m going to talk about the nose touch method, but if you want to know more about the other techniques, you can check them out here:

  1. Use Treats: Place a treat in your hand and place it in front of your dog. When your dog touches your hand with its nose, you can reward them with a treat. Keep dining this until it’s an automatic process.
  1. Teach Your Dog To Shut The Door: Now you’ve taught your dog to touch with their nose, it’s time to teach them to apply pressure. To do this, you can teach your dog to push the door closed with their nose.

Some people like to tap the treat to the door with colored tape to help your dog focus on the door. Just make sure your dog uses their nose and not their foot.

  1. Teach Your Dog To Go Around And Wait: Place an obstacle on the floor and chuck some treats behind it. The idea is to get your dog to go around the object (what will be the herding ball) and wait for a command. You should continue to practice until your dog remains on the other side of the obstacle.
  1. Teach Your Dog To Push The Ball: Place the ball in between your legs and see if your dog will push the ball with its nose. If your dog doesn’t, use the treats to try and tempt them into play. You could also use the tape technique to help the dog push the ball.
  1. Add Some Distance: Once your dog has started pushing the ball towards you, it’s time to add some distance. Use a combination of voice commands and hand signals to get your dog moving towards you with the ball.
  1. Take It Outside: Know your dog has the premise of punching the herding ball; it’s time to take it outside.

If you follow these steps with time and patience, you should have no problem training your dog to play with a herding ball.

It’s pretty important to make sure they don’t use their teeth on the ball and bite. Most herding balls are made with rugged materials, so they can damage your dog’s teeth.

3. What To Look For In A Herding Ball?

Dog pushing large yellow ballOkay, you know what herding balls we find the best, but how did we choose them, and what should you look out for?

Well, in this section, we’re going to show you the things you need to look out for:

Material

Most herding balls are designed to be tough, so they use materials such as polyethylene plastic.

Due to the material they use, you can get them in various colors to entice your dog to lay with them.

Size

Herding balls are designed to be pushed with your dog’s nose or chest. And this is why it’s essential your dog can not get its mouth around the ball. You should check out the size guide provided by the manufactures to ensure you get the right ball.

Durability

You need your herding ball to be able to withstand a lot of rough play. Your dog will be playing with it outside on many different surfaces, and the chances are your dog will try and bite it.

Try to find a herding ball that’s been proven to be durable. You can do this by checking out the reviews in the comments.

Does It Have A Handle Or A Plug?

Some dogs love a handle or a plug; they usually become obsessed with chewing it. But this isn’t ideal for a herding ball, which is why you should avoid them at all costs. This will help prevent your dog from damaging its teeth.

Does It Float?

If your dog loves swimming in the water, you might want to consider getting a herding ball that can float. You’ll get a few herding balls that are hollow in the middle, which means they can float on water.

What’s It Filled With?

Most herding balls are hollow in the middle and aren’t filled with anything. But there are a few that you can fill yourself with sand or dirt to add extra weight and make it more challenging to play with it.

4. What Other Toys Are Available For Herding Dogs?

If you don’t fancy the herding ball, there are a few other options you can consider to help keep your dog busy.

Chew Toy

Chew toys are great for herding dogs if you want to keep them occupied. They help to strengthen the jaw and provide hours of fun. I’ve written many articles on monthly dog boxes which often include chew toys, treats, and more delivered to your door.

Puzzle Toys

Herding dogs are incredibly smart, which is why puzzle toys work so well. They love working out the game and will spend hours trying to figure it out. I’ve also written an article on some of the best toys for bored dogs.

5. How Much Exercise Do Herding Dogs Need?

In general, an adult herding dog needs around 1-1.5 hours of exercise per day.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has helped explain what herding balls for dogs are and how to train your dog to use them. But more importantly, I hope this has helped you find the best fit for your dog.

My personal favorite is the Jolly Ball. It’s an excellent herding ball that doesn’t damage your dog’s teeth and feels the most durable on the market.

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