3 Best Dog Herding Balls + Benefits of Ball Herding!



Kayla Fratt


K9 of Mine is reader-supported, which means we may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page. Here’s how it works.

Herding dogs are bred to chase moving objects and control their movement around a space. While this can be totally mesmerizing in sheepherding trials, it is a pretty irritating habit when it involves herding children, bikes, or other dogs.

One of the best ways to help manage your herding dog’s unwanted behavior is to give her an appropriate outlet.

That’s where herding balls for dogs come in. Rather than driving hours to take herding lessons on a sheep farm, try out some herding games using indestructible balls from your own backyard!

Why Herding Balls for Dogs Help Reduce Problem Behaviors

Herding dogs like border collies, Australian shepherds, and shelties can be a handful. They’re incredibly smart and are bred for spending their days moving livestock from one area of the farm to another. That means they can be particularly difficult as sedentary pets.

Giving your herding dog an outlet for her instinct to herd and move is a great way to wear her out and reduce her problem behaviors elsewhere. Teaching her to herd is unlikely to make her do more of it – rather, it will give her an appropriate time and place to exercise her instincts.

It’s kind of like letting a testosterone-high teenager take boxing lessons. It’s a good outlet for those impulses and likely will actually improve his behavior elsewhere.

Benefits of Giving Your Dog a Herding Ball to Play With

Bored, understimulated dogs tend to be naughty dogs. That’s why we help you out with so many articles on the best puzzle toys to buy or how to make your own DIY puzzle toys, how to get started with canicross and bikejoring for you and your pup, ways to keep your dog busy while you’re at work, and great learning games that can be used for fun and bonding with your pup.

A herding ball is yet another tool in the owner’s toolbox that can result in a happier, better-behaved dog.

Giving your dog a herding ball to play with might help reduce problem behaviors like:

  • Barking
  • Chewing
  • Digging
  • Chasing dogs, people, cars, or bikes
  • Nipping at heels of people or legs of dogs
  • Trying to move people through doorways or stopping them from moving through doorways

All of these behaviors are often related to boredom for dogs. The last three are closely tied to herding behaviors. Giving your dog a herding ball will help give her an appropriate outlet for those instinctive needs to chase, nip at, and move objects.

The Best Dog Herding Balls

In competitive Treibball, dogs actually use soft exercise balls. We don’t recommend those for beginner use, since they’re so easy to pop. Instead, let’s focus on virtually indestructible herding balls that will keep your dog busy without falling apart.

1. Jolly Pets Push-n-Play

The Jolly Ball is the most popular and well-known hard herding ball out there, which is why it ruled the herding ball market for a long time. Its hard plastic makes it best suited for outdoor use, and it’s big enough that dogs can’t get it in their mouths. That means your pup will have to push it around with her nose, paws, or chest, which is exactly what we want.

Cost: $

Pros: It’s cheap and guaranteed to be indestructible. Many users noted that their dogs loved it so much that they have to put it away at times to keep their dog from playing too hard. They also make egg-shaped “balls” for wobbly fun!

Cons: In a few cases, dogs were able to scratch the ball with their teeth or claws, causing sharp ridges that could cut up their noses next time they tried to play. Some users were able to sand down those ridges and keep playing anyway, while others had to put the ball away for their dog’s safety.

2. Varsity Pets Basketball

Varsity Pets Basketball Design Dog Toy, Orange
  • 110% Guaranteed Indestructible
  • Designed for human-free canine exercise
  • Made 100% in the USA
  • World's toughest dog toy

It’s hard to argue with a ball that’s the go-to for lions, tigers, and bears (yup, for real!).

Working and military dogs love this ball, and it has a 110% indestructible guarantee. They’re a bit newer to the market than Jolly Ball or the Virtually Indestructible ball, but overall the Varsity Pets Basketball seems like a promising option for majorly destructive dogs.

Cost: $$$

Pros: The Varsity Pets ball comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It doesn’t have a raised logo on it, which might reduce your dog’s ability to scratch the hard plastic and create those sharp ridges.

Cons: This ball is far more expensive than the other options on the market. Since other users haven’t noted the other two balls breaking, I’m not quite sure why I should spend so much more money on a herding ball, unless you really need a ball that’s tiger-proof!

3. Virtually Indestructible Ball

Virtually Indestructible Best Ball for Dogs, 10-inch
  • HARD PLASTIC BALL - Perfect for dogs who love pushing and herding
  • VIRTUALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE - This Hard plastic ball is not for chewing, fetching or catching.
  • EXERCISE – Designed for extreme outdoor play. This ball even floats in water.
  • LOCAL - Made in the USA from tough USA plastic

If you’re looking for extra-large or extra-small options, the Virtually Indestructible Ball is where you should start. Users reported that it took over two years for pit bull dogs that usually destroy toys in under ten minutes. Not bad!

Cost: $$

Pros: This ball comes in a wide variety of sizes, making it the best selection if you’ve got an extra-large or smaller dog. Users noted that it was painful to kick for human toes, and isn’t suited for kick fetch.

Cons: At least a few users found that this ball was so hard, it wore down their dog’s teeth. Always supervise your dog when playing to ensure that play is fun and safe, not too rough.

 Games Like Treibball Make the Best Dog Herding Balls Even Better!

Treibball is a fast-growing dog sport that involves dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes nosing weighted balls into goalposts. It’s a great outlet for high-energy and quick-thinking herding dogs, but all dogs can enjoy the sport.

Whether or not you want to take a class with your local Treibball club, you might enjoy playing herding games with your dog and her new herding balls. Just start rewarding your dog for nosing the balls towards you or towards a pair of trees in your backyard.

This will help teach your dog more problem-solving skills and get out of the obsessive cycle of fetching. Get started in Treibball with this Treibball 101 guide or visiting a local Treiball club.

Do you have a favorite herding ball for your dog, or a great variation of Treibball to play? We want to hear your ideas!

Like it? Share it!

Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through IAABC and works as a conservation detection dog trainer.

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training tutorials, canine gear guides, and the latest doggy discounts.


Load Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Fawn Avatar

    This is the first time I’ve seen anything for herding dog. I have a 9 month Sheltie and he loves to have something in his mouth while pushing something else. I never even thought that it had to do with herding – (duh) thank you. I just ordered 3 of your last choice – I’ll see how Trooper does with them. I’ll give you an update.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      We’re so glad you liked the article, Fawn! Best of luck with your Sheltie and keep us updated!

  2. Kelly Avatar

    We have 2 GSD’s they love these balls. We have 2 XL Jolly balls and 2 L Varsity balls. My opinion is Varsity is much better the other balls have a plastic screw in them that not only fills with water but also allows them to dig their teeth in around it. We still bought another Jolly for inside because you could buy 4 of them for the cost of 1 Varsity

    1. Kayla Fratt Avatar

      That’s a great tip! I’m glad you’ve found something that works so well for your pups.

Also Worth Your Time