Flyball is a canine team sport which was started on the activities that dogs love to do – run, jump, fetch, retrieve, and compete. This canine relay race features teams of four dogs and four handlers competing head to head with other teams to complete the flyball course in as little time as possible. Flyball is believed to have begun in the early 70’s in southern California. Herbert Wagner invented the first flyball box and demonstrated it the Canine Obedience Graduations. The actual game was demonstrated on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.
Each of the dogs takes turns racing down the flyball course jumping over four hurdles and triggers a spring-loaded box or flyball box that releases a tennis ball. The canine athlete then catches the “fly-ball”, turning and racing back over the hurdles and across the finish line. Each dog must cross the finish line before the next dog can be released. It is the handler responsibility to make sure their dog will not cross the start line until the previous dog crossed the finish line. When all four dogs have completed the race without any errors, the fastest team wins the competition. Penalties are applied to teams if the ball is dropped or if the next relay dog is released early.
1. Flyball dogs must be at least 1 year old.
2. Your dog must be physically able to safely compete. Have your pet checked out by a veterinarian first.
3. Your dog should get along well with other dogs.
4. Border Collies and Jack Russell Terriers tend to ace flyball, but all breeds and breed mixes are welcome!
Long-legged dogs definitely offer a speed advantage, but smaller dogs, such as small mixed breeds or terriers, fulfill very important roles on a team. The smallest dog on the team determines the height of the jumps for the entire team, many teams include one small speedster to increase their speedy strategy. The great thing about flyball is, it’s the only sport which is open to the non-pedigree dogs, senior dogs, mixed breeds, and even rescued mixes.
Flyball has many benefits for not only the dog, but the pet owner as well. With all of the training that goes into flyball, you will have to spend a large amount of time with your pup, which is a great way to get some bonding time in. It also keeps your pup active and strong, all while enjoying a good dose of healthy competition. This sport is fun, fast, and exciting, but also really cool to watch.
Based on NAFA (North American Flyball Association) record the top finishing breeds include:
1. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
2. Border Collie
3. Jack Russell Terrier / Parson Russell Terrier
4. Belgian Malinois
5. Australian Cattle Dogs
6. Mixed Breeds
7. Australian Shepherd
8. Shetland Sheepdog
9. American Cocker Spaniel
10. Labrador Retriever
11. Golden Retriever
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