Treibball: An urban herding sport for all dogs hits New Zealand

Saturday sport is a fixture for many Kiwi households - whether it's cricket in summer or netball in winter. 

But there's a new sport that's growing in popularity. It's called treibball and who plays it may just surprise you. 

This ball game has really gone to the dogs.

"It takes a lot of training [and] it takes a lot of hours to get the dogs to do this," Otago Canine Training Club treibball organiser Helena Akesson said.

Treibball has been around for decades. It originated in Germany, as a means to train herding dogs. It's since exploded in Europe and America but only recently reached New Zealand. 

It's a little bit like football for the four-legged. 

"The dogs have to bring in balls to a goal area, the handler stays in the goal area - they're not allowed to move outside the lines," Akesson said.

As the dogs' ability increases, so does the number of balls they bring in.

It's not as easy as it looks but when the balls are bigger than they are, who can blame them. 

"As a judge, you're looking at the handler being able to teach impulse control so your dog knowing when and when not to push the ball," judge Ailsa Hawkins said.

Four-year-old Arie has been competing for about a year, she started with just one ball and has progressed to three. 

"One day we'd like to be able to get into the advanced categories," Arie's owner Georgia Bradshaw said.

"She just really loves it, it's taken us a long time to get to where we are now, she's very stubborn."

The game is also timed. Points are taken off when things don't go to plan. 

Unlike traditional herding dogs, treibball doesn't discriminate. Any breed can play and benefit.

"Physical exercise obviously, the big one is mental stimulation, the dogs have to think and run which both can be hard work," Akesson said.

"If you enjoy training your dog come and play the game."

Young or old, you can teach any dog new tricks.