Flyball - What is it & How to Participate

Flyball - What is it & How to Participate

Author WDF Staff


Dog sports are very popular, especially in the past 50 years when dogs earned a special position and started being treated as parts of the family. One of these sports on the rise is flyball. If you ever had the chance to see flyball live, you probably noticed how fast and confusing it can be. If you want to know a bit more about this popular dog sport, stick with us a bit more.

What is flyball?

Flyball is a dog sport with a simple objective - the first team that finishes the race wins. However, if you look a bit closer, the sport starts being a bit more complicated. There are two teams of four dogs racing against each other, and the course has a line of hurdles. At the other end of the course, there is a box that releases a tennis ball the dog has to catch and carry all the way to the starting line without dropping it. Only when the first dog crosses the start line can the second dog be released.

The total length of the course is 51 feet (15.5 m), and the height of the hurdles is measured for every race. The height has to be adjusted based on dogs that are racing. The exact height will be the same as the team’s smallest dog’s shoulder height.

Which team wins?

The winning team is the fastest one, but there are a few things that can come into play. If a dog was released too early or dropped the tennis ball, judges can award penalties to a team. When the penalties are calculated, the team whose dogs finished the race first can actually finish second. It is essential that the handler and dogs are in sync, and they don’t make any mistakes during the race.

border collie  flyball

Flyball history

If you think flyball is something you and your dogs would enjoy, you might want to know a bit more about the history of flyball. This dog sport started in the 1960s and 1970s in Southern California. American dog trainers tried productively burning their dog’s energy. They combined scent hurdles with carrying tennis balls back to the handler. The first spring box was created by a man called Herbert Wagner. He even demonstrated the sport on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” The first official flyball tournament was held in 1983 in the US.

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Modern-day flyball

The modern version of flyball is popular across the globe. The biggest tournament in the world is the European championship, where the best teams from each European country compete to win the most prestigious flyball award.

What dogs can participate?

One of the best things about flyball is that it has no restrictions. It doesn’t matter if you have pureblooded, crossbreeds, or mutts; all dogs can participate as long as they are healthy and older than 15 months. However, herding dogs like Border Collies and Belgian Malinois are dominating this sport. Their intelligence, speed, and agility allow them to crush their competition.

In conclusion

Flyball is an exciting dog sport that allows you to train and exercise your dog healthily and productively. Most countries in the world have clubs and national teams, so it shouldn’t be a problem reaching them and getting involved. In the United States, the national association is called North American Flyball Association. You can join many local clubs and start this new and fun dog sport with your dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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