Herbert Wagner developed the first tennis ball launcher and served as the initiator to canine flyball in the 1970s. The flyball game was first launched in small tournaments as a segment in dog shows. It was only until 1983 that it was able to open the first flyball tournament. Moreover, it was only introduced in the UK at Crufts in 1990.
Over the years, this sport has earned soaring numbers of interested participants and spectators. Are you interested to introduce this canine sport to your furry friend? The good news is that any dog breed can play, except those who have medical conditions that might risk their health with all the running required. Although there are some breeds that stand out, including border collies, herding dogs, and hunting retrievers, any dog can participate.
How do you play canine flyball?
Flyball is a fun and exciting dog sport. It involves a lot of fast-paced action for dogs, handlers, and spectators. The competition is composed of two teams with four dogs in each team. The dog must race down the 51-foot course with obstacles of four hurdles before reaching the flyball boxes. A tennis ball will then be released, which the dog must catch in his mouth. The pooch should keep it in his mouth as he strides his way back to the course with the same hurdles in place. Once back in place, the next dog may be released to do the same course. The first team to have all four dogs complete the course without any errors wins the race.
How do teams work?
Each team is made up of four dogs and four handlers. There should also be a box loader who is tasked to put tennis balls in position to the flyball boxes.
A maximum of two reserved dogs and reserved handlers are allowed to be used at the team’s discretion. However, substitution with reserved dogs can only be done during the end of each round but not when the division begins.
This sport only requires four pieces of equipment:
Each team should be provided with plenty of unpunctured round balls. The size should be made accordingly to the safety and size of the dog participants. It can be in any colour but must bounce enough to fly out of the box. It should not be smaller or larger that might cause harm to the said canines.
These should be placed in protection of dogs that might hurtle over running the course as well as preventing the fallen balls from rolling too far.
The hurdles should be ten inches high and are usually painted in white. With the dog’s safety in mind, the top rail should be flexible or padded.
Each team should be provided with flyball boxes that can be any commercial flat-fronted flyball boxes. The said boxes should be designed with the dog’s safety in mind.
Basic flyball rules (from Young Kennel Club)
Details below are a set of regulations for competitors during competitions:
- No handler or person should exhibit punitive correction or harsh handling of any dogs at any time.
- Food is not allowed to be given or placed in the hand to a dog inside the ring.
- The participating dog should attempt to clear every hurdle.
- The said pooch must rerun at the end of the line only by the following conditions:
- A signal of an early start
- No attempts in every jump required.
- Fails to triggers the box.
- The handler’s feet crossed the starting line during the run with a few exemptions, such as resetting a jump or retrieving a lost ball.
- When the next dog has started to sprint before the preceding dog reached the start/finish line.
- The box loader assists the dog in any way.
- If the opposing team creates an obstruction to any team or dog, the offending team will forfeit the race. A dog trying to chase a missed ball is not considered as causing an obstruction.
Watch this flyball tournament at Crufts 2018:
Basic flyball dog training
Train yourself and your pooch effectively using the following things in mind:
- Introduce commands
You need to introduce to your pooch on how to catch the tennis ball using his mouth and hold it until you tell them to. Teach him to give full focus on the ball or object in play under different conditions, may it be long throws and short throws. Then, you may proceed to mimic the flyball trigger throw. Start simple by playing fetch sessions every day with voice commands.
- Introduce hurdles
Once the voice commands are introduced, you may progress the training to jumping over hurdles. Start simple with a single hurdle in an area and stand in front of it with your dog. Throw the tennis ball over it and speak commands to let him fetch it. Do this repeatedly for about fifteen minutes a day until the dog has grasped the concept.
- Introduce more hurdles
Let your pooch get acquainted with the set-up by walking him over hurdles. Place hurdles in line in about five feet away from each other. Start simple by placing two hurdles at first. Then gradually increase the hurdles once the pooch is confident in leaping over them.
- Introduce the flyball box
The first step is to let him understand how the flyball box works. The dog needs to press on the box for it to release the ball.
Remember, patience and giving rewards is always the key in training. Don’t forget to share this article with your pet owner friends!
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