When you think of dog toys, you probably think of bones, tennis balls, chew toys, and squeaky toys. The last toy on your mind is probably a herding ball.
But if you have an active dog with any kind of herding instinct or even a dog that just loves to play with a variety of toys, a herding ball is certainly something you should know about.
However, while a herding ball could be a favorite toy for some types of dogs, not all dogs are going to enjoy these unique toys. So, how do you know if a herding ball is right for your dog and where can you find the best one?
That’s what we’re here to help you find out!
What Is A Herding Ball?
Herding balls are balls that are designed for your dog to herd around.
A herding ball is a type of large ball made of tear-proof material that is designed for dogs to nudge and chase. These balls are made to be too large and often too heavy for your dog to pick up and carry in his mouth, meaning the only way he’s able to interact and play with it is to nudge it with his nose or mouth and then chase after it as it rolls or bounces away from him.
These kinds of balls are excellent for a number of different types of dogs to enjoy from big to small, though dogs with herding instincts or a higher prey drive seem to especially enjoy playing with these balls.
For the most part, herding balls are safe for dogs to play with because they are specifically made for dogs. They are also often too large for dogs to bite and too strong for dogs to pop. Herding balls can also help keep a dog engaged, exercised, and mentally stimulated for long periods of time with minimal effort from their owners.
Herding balls can also be used during training to help dogs bred for herding to respond to herding queues.
Sounds great, right? But don’t go running to buy a herding ball just yet. Not all dogs are going to enjoy playing with a herding ball.
Some dogs may be afraid of them, especially smaller dogs or dogs who are less active or playful.
With that said, there are no specific breed types or mixes that would be suitable to play with a herding ball. It mostly comes down to your dog’s personality, confidence, and energy level.
And while herding balls can be great for the right dog, we should note here that they may not be the best toy for indoor play.
In fact, herding balls are generally best suited for outside play, meaning owners with backyards seem to get the most use out of them. Indoors, herding balls can pose a destructive risk, especially if they roll or bounce into mirrors or breakable decorations like picture frames or glass vases.
Of course, you may find you can get use out of a herding ball inside if you have a finished basement or a more open space indoors where your dog can play with a herding ball safely.
So, is a herding ball right for your dog? Let’s talk about active dogs and working breeds.
Active Dogs And Working Breeds – What Owners Should Know
Active dog breeds and working dog breeds need a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation.
The majority of dogs have been historically bred for working purposes, and this can be true regardless of if your dog is a giant English mastiff or a very small Yorkshire Terrier. This means that dogs often have a unique set of skills genetically built in that will play a large role in the types of activities they enjoy most.
This is also why high-energy dogs and working dogs can be more prone to struggling with anxiety and destructive behaviors when their exercise and mental stimulation needs are not routinely met.
Herding dogs in particular are known to be some of the most active and intelligent breeds in the canine kingdom, but they can also be the most prone to behavioral issues.
Luckily, there are plenty of products and toys on the market for these types of dogs to help tap into their natural instincts and to help keep them engaged and stimulated, and a herding ball is just one of those toys.
So, which dogs (and their mixes) are most likely to get the most out of a herding ball? Dogs with herding instincts are naturally more likely to enjoy playing with a herding ball, including dogs like Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Corgis, German Shepherds, and more.
But your dog doesn’t have to be a herding dog to enjoy a herding ball. High-energy dogs like Siberian Huskies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bulls, and similar dogs and mixes can also get a lot out of a herding ball.
With all that noted, not all herding balls are created equal and it’s important to look for quality herding balls that will suit your unique dog.
Keep reading to learn more.
What To Look For In The Best Toys For Active Dog Breeds
Some people use soccer balls as herding balls, and they can work for smaller dogs.
Most herding balls come in simple designs made of strong, tear-proof polyethylene. They look similar to those large rubber bouncy balls you used to play with as a kid. These balls are usually very large, but not all herding balls or toys considered herding balls are made with this same material or are as large.
In fact, you can find herding balls in many different sizes, and you can even find herding balls that are remote-controlled to move without your dog’s push. Some herding balls are even designed to make noise or release treats or other toys as they roll away from your dog.
The type of herding ball that will be best for your dog will depend on a few factors, including your dog’s size and activity level.
The herding ball that is perfect for your pup may also depend on the reason you are looking to obtain a herding ball. Are you looking to help your dog get more exercise? Or are you hoping to keep your dog mentally stimulated while you are away? Or do you want to use a herding ball for training purposes?
All of these questions should be considered when it comes to choosing the best herding ball for you and your pup. If you’re not sure where to begin looking, we have listed some of our favorite herding balls below.
Race&Herd Herding Ball For Dogs And Horses
Yes, horses love herding balls too! Who knew? But we especially love this type of herding ball for dogs who have strong herding instincts, are especially active and energetic, or who otherwise are sure to love chasing and pushing these balls around the yard or house.
This ball is available in several colors and is best suited for medium to large-breed dogs. The ball is made with dog-safe material but it is inflatable and must be inflated by you.
It does come with a hand pump and instructions on how to inflate it, but be sure to follow the instructions so you get the correct air pressure for optimal playing.
Dawpet Herding Ball
This is another herding ball on our list that can be enjoyed by both dogs and horses, though it’s slightly bigger than the herding ball above. Considered a mega herding ball, this ball is about 30 inches and is best for large breed dogs that are high-energy dogs or dogs with herding instincts.
It is only available in a blue color and is specifically designed to help with mental stimulation, exercise, and training.
The ball is also made with anti-burst PVC material, with a textured external material for easier play. Because this herding ball is commonly enjoyed by horses, it is especially strong and ideal for dogs who are especially rough on toys.
Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Herding Ball Toy
If you have a smaller dog or a dog that may not be as inclined to play with a large herding ball, you may want to try the Jolly Pets Push-n-Play Herding Ball. This toy is still too large for your dog to pick up or play with in his mouth but small enough to not be intimidating to a dog that may otherwise be fearful of a larger ball.
It is available in several sizes, making it a great option for different sized dogs. It comes in 4.5 inches, 3 inches, 10 inches, or 14 inches. It is also available in three colors including blue, purple, and red.
Akongy Large Soccer Ball For Dogs
Not all herding balls have to be inflatable. The above herding ball for dogs is actually designed like a large soccer ball. This ball is perfect for the smaller dog that does want to pick up their toy and play, but also wants to nudge and chase the toy as well.
The ball has tabs and an animal-like design perfect to tap into the natural instincts of a herding dog or a dog with a decent prey drive. While smaller dogs can play with this herding ball, it is ideal for medium to large-size dog breeds.
Banfeng Giant Tennis Ball for Dogs
We love a toy that brings some comedy to the toybox, and the Banfeng Giant Tennis Ball does just that. We all know dogs notoriously love tennis balls, which is why we couldn’t resist adding this giant tennis ball that doubles as a herding ball to our list.
This dog is ideal for dogs of all sizes and is made with dog-safe rubber and felt material. It is designed specifically to be safer for rougher play and made much thicker than normal tennis balls.
With that said, this is not ideal for dogs that are prone to be heavy chewers, so keep this in mind as it is made with felt that can be chewed and torn apart by some dogs.
Other Toys For Active Dog Breeds
All dogs need plenty of mental stimulation, so a good variety of toys are important.
As we mentioned briefly above, not all dogs are going to enjoy playing with a herding ball, even if they are herding dogs and even if they are active or high-energy dog breeds or mixes. Regardless, active dogs will still enjoy playing with interactive toys or toys that help tap into their natural instincts or skill sets.
Some of the best toys for active dog breeds include interactive fetch toys, treat balls, puzzle toys, and snuffle mats.
Below are some of the best dog toys for active dogs that you can consider if you have decided that a herding ball is not right for your dog.
Aggressive Chewy Hard Dog Interactive Ball
Though not technically a herding ball, this interactive dog toy could have gone on our above list for smaller dogs. It’s bigger than a typical ball so your dog will still need to nudge it and push it around, but it is hard, so it cannot be chewed to smithereens or picked up.
This toy is specifically designed to help active dogs stay busy and mentally stimulated for hours, and comes in two color options.
Though hard, the toy is designed for chewing and chasing. It also has built-in whistle sounds when it rolls to tap into your dog’s natural hunting instincts. Most importantly, it is made with dog-safe materials and can withstand heavy chewing.
Potaroma Dog Food Puzzle Toy
Puzzle toys are excellent for active and intelligent dogs who need help staying mentally stimulated, though they won’t help when it comes to physical exercise. Still, the mental exercise promoted by these toys is worth us putting on our list.
The above dog toy works using food to help hold your dog’s interest and entice him to solve the puzzles by sniffing them out in the hiding places of the toy. The product is ideal for dogs of all sizes and breeds and comes in two levels so your dog can move on when he’s mastered the first puzzle.
Tuwicx Interactive Dog Toy
If you’re looking for a dog toy that is more along the lines of a herding ball to help combat excess energy, then we would suggest you take a look at the Tuwicx Interactive Dog Toy. This toy is a motion-activated ball that works to keep your dog mentally stimulated and exercised.
It comes in two fun modes including normal and crazy bouncing mode and helps tap into the same instinct as herding balls including herding instinct and prey drive.
The toy is also waterproof, so it’s safe for dogs who chew and lick their toys, although this is not an ideal toy for dogs who are heavy chewers.
Introducing Your Dog To Herding Balls And Activity Toys
Not all dogs will want to play with a herding ball, and it’s important not to force it.
All dogs require routine exercise and mental stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy, regardless of their breed, mix, or age. In fact, without routine exercise and mental stimulation, dogs can become bored, anxious, depressed, and even destructive.
Herding balls can help reduce a number of behavioral issues in your energetic dog by helping to keep your dog exercised and mentally stimulated during interactive play. With that said, it should be noted that this type of dog toy is not designed to take the place of routine exercise or mental stimulation provided by you.
Remember, your dog is a social creature and his favorite playtime will be playtime that involves his favorite human.
But what if your dog isn’t sure about a herding ball?
If you have invested in a herding ball but your dog seems unsure of it, it’s important not to try and force your dog to play with the toy. Instead, introduce your dog to the herding ball slowly and give him gentle encouragement.
Forcing your dog to try and interact with the herding ball if he is clearly afraid of it will only make him more afraid of it. If this happens, your dog will not “get used to it”, as some may think. In fact, if your dog becomes fearful of the herding ball, he will continue to avoid it indefinitely.
The best way to introduce a herding ball to a dog who has never played with one before is to introduce it slowly and allow your dog to explore it at his own pace. You can also use treats and praise to help show your dog that the herding ball should be associated with something positive.
Sometimes a herding ball just may not be a good fit for your dog, and that’s okay. Keep in mind there are many other toys that your dog can play with that can provide him with the same level of enjoyment, interaction, and mental stimulation.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on the best herding ball and other interactive toys for your active dog!
If your dog loves playing with a herding ball, we would love to hear about it in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.