Flyball is a fun, fast-paced relay race of heart-stopping action, with dogs flying over low jumps to retrieve a ball and then returning at top speed over the jumps. Teams consist of 4 dogs racing against another team, with the 2 lanes of jumps and Flyball boxes set 5 to 10 metres apart. If a dog drops the ball before returning over the starting line, goes over the start line before the returning dog, or goes around a jump then that dog needs to run again. This means that a “clean run” is very important for a fast race time.
Dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes compete in Flyball. The jumps are between 7 and 14 inches high, with the height set at 4 inches below the shoulder of the smallest dog in the team. “Little height” dogs are very popular as all the dogs in that team then jump at that height.
Training is accomplished by gradually building up a series of exercises, eg retrieving a ball for reward (food, toy), going reliably over 1 jump, then 2, 3 etc, turning smoothly around a pole, turning on the Flyball box to get the tennis ball, and crossing confidently past other dogs. Eventually the exercises are put together into the full relay race with dogs racing in the next lane. Dogs are slowly introduced to full-on Flyball competitions through participation in team training and doing demonstrations at community fetes and fairs, where they get used to crowds, lots of noise, and other distractions.
Why do Flyball? The main reason is that the dogs absolutely love it! Flyball encompasses all things that dogs love to do – jumping, catching, retrieving, competing and striving to please their owners. It is fantastic stimulation especially for active and working dog breeds and provides a great way to build your dog’s socialisation skills.
Besides being great for dogs, Flyball is a lot of fun for people too! It is a great way to meet people locally and interstate. The team-work aspects bring people together as they strive to improve their team’s performance. Flyball can be as competitive as you want to make it. The best part of all is just having fun with your dog, and seeing the look of excitement on your dog’s face at the start of a day of racing, and the look of contentment at the end of the day.
CDODC is proud to have had some of the fastest Flyball teams in Australia throughout the years, and have held the record for the fastest team in Victoria for the last 4 years. We are one of the largest groups involved in competition.
Come and check it out – you and your dog are guaranteed to ‘have a ball’! Contact: Florence Chiu via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, just come and talk to us at club.
(Note: Dogs need to have passed Basic 2 Obedience and must be at least 12 months old to safely participate in this activity.)