Flyball for Dogs

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What Is Flyball?

Flyball is a sport in which dogs perform as a team of four dogs in a relay.  The Flyball course is a series of four hurdles. Each dog must clear the hurdles and run to a box that will release a ball when the spring loaded pad is pressed by the dog.  The dog must then return to the starting line with the ball before the next team mate is permitted to go.  If a ball is dropped or a dog is released early there are penalty points.  The first team to finish error-free wins the competition.

flyball
dog jumps on box to release the ball. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

History Behind Flyball

Flyball originated in the late 1960’s as a dog sport in California.  Flyball was first demonstrated to the public on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson!  In 1983 the first Flyball tournament was held in the United States.  It has since spread to many countries.  Flyball is a sport that isn’t limited by breed.  This activity can be enjoyed by all.  It is an exceptionally effective way to expend the energy of highly active dogs or dogs that like to “work” as Border Collies do.  Herding dogs do tend to perform the best; however, mixed breeds have been known to hold their own in this fast paced sport.

Equipment Needed

The equipment needed for Flyball can be a bit expensive.  Hurdles and a spring box are the basic equipment needed.  The spring loaded box can run upwards of $800 unless you are handy and can make your own.  The hurdles are also something that might be made if you are handy. For those not handy enough, the equipment can be located on line or through a Flyball dog club.  There are many clubs for Flyball events and these clubs can be found on-line.

flyball for dogs
Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Training Your Dog For Flyball

Training your dog to excel at Flyball will take some time.  It is recommended that the training start by showing your dog the hurdle and jumping over it from a close distance.  Once your dog has mastered that step, start back further until your dog can run up to the hurdle and clear it.  Repeat this until your dog has mastered running up to and clearing all four hurdles. Teaching your dog to release the ball from the box might be a little tricky and may take some time.  Many handlers walk their dog to the box and repeatedly show them what to press to get the ball.  After all the steps have been mastered, there is still the matter of training your dog to ignore the other dogs in the competition.  This sport takes a fair amount of training but the results are very rewarding for both you and your dog.

Safety

The hazards of Flyball for your dog are minimal.  There is always the risk of tripping over a hurdle or running into the spring loaded box.  These risks are similar to allowing your dog to run through the woods over limbs and around stumps.  Flyball is an exciting and rewarding activity for your dog that he and you will both enjoy.

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