The sport of flyball is an exciting dog relay race that is played by highly energized dogs teams that are ball crazy and FAST! It is one of the fastest growing dog sports in North America. A flyball team consists of four main dogs and their handlers, up to two alternate dogs with handlers and a box loader. The sport is not limited to any one breed or sex of dog; both pedigreed and mixed breeds can play and compete. This is a very noisy sport because of the excited, barking dogs and excited, cheering owners and spectators.
Two Flyball teams compete against each other during competition. There are two side by side racing lanes. Each lane usually contains four jumps called hurdles that are set 10 ft apart. The last hurdle is 15ft short of the flyball box. (Please see the picture) The flyball box has a spring-loaded front that releases a tennis ball when the dog steps on it. ("Flyball")
The dog starts on the right or left with his owner. When the owner gives the signal the dog takes off for the box, jumping the hurdles before him. When he reaches the box, he presses his feet on the box, and the tennis ball shoots out! The dog grabs the ball, races back over the hurdles, with the ball gives it to his/her owner.
As the first dog comes in to the finish line, the second dog and first dog should pass nose to nose as the second dog takes off for its turn. This continues until all four dogs have run. If all 4 dogs do this without making any errors and are faster than the opposing team, they win! There is plenty of excitement and action.
Flyball is an extremely energetic, fast moving sport. All of the dogs that are involved need to be in excellent physical condition. This is not a sport for overweight, sedentary dogs! If you want to play flyball with your dog he should:
- Have a check-up by your family veterinarian to be sure he/she is in good health.
- Come when you call him
- Have good manners around other dogs-No fighting over the ball!
- Know how to retrieve a tennis ball
- Be willing to run after a ball, pick it up, and bring it back to you
- Be able to jump over short hurdles
- Be able to learn how to step on the flyball box
This is not a sport for everyone, however, those that do it -- love it!