Flyball consists of a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog must jump over four hurdles, retrieve a ball by triggering a flyball box pedal and then return over the hurdles to the start/finish line.
Flyball is a canine team sport which is founded on the activities that dogs love to do – run, jump, fetch, retrieve, compete and most of all: their desire to please their owners.
There is no discrimination in Flyball. Any dog; regardless of breed, size, shape or formal training, can participate and join in on the fun. Flyball does not interfere with obedience training. In fact, the sport reinforces the disciplines taught in obedience classes.
Race meets are run in performance based divisions. The fastest teams are put in Division 1 and slower division follow sequentially. This enables every team to have a fair go and be competitive in their division.
Unlike any other dog activity to date, flyball is pure fun for everyone: the dogs, the handlers and the spectators. Spectators are encouraged to applaud, laugh and cheer on their favourite team.
The flyball community is passionate, encouraging and diverse. The enthusiasm and sheer exhilaration on the dogs’ faces (and some of the handlers faces too!) creates a vibrant atmosphere.
If you are looking for a new and stimulating way to spend time with your pet – then why not give flyball a go!
There are two racing lanes set up side-by-side with as little as 10 feet (3.05m) between them. Between the lanes there is a set of drag racing lights waiting to do the count down for the start of each heat.
Each lane is 51 feet (15.54m) in length and consists of 4 hurdles; the first being 6 feet (1.84m) from the start/finish line and the rest at 10 foot (3.05m) intervals. The hurdle height is set 5 inches lower than the shoulder height of the smallest dog in the team (limited to a minimum of 7 inches and a maximum of 14 inches).
At the end of the lane is the flyball box with a tennis ball in it. The flyball box is 15 feet from the last hurdle and requires the dog to trigger the box to release the ball. The dog then seamlessly leaps onto the box, catches the ball, turns, and continues back to the start/finish line: where their handler is usually jumping up and down, waving their arms and screaming words of encouragement.
Each relay team consists of four dogs, with up to two reserve dogs that can be interchanged between heats. There can be either three or five heats in every race.
When the last light turns green the dogs are off and racing (crossing the start/finish line before the light is green results in a foul).
Each dog must jump the four hurdles, retrieve the ball and jump back over the hurdles to complete their lap. Missed jumps and dropped balls require the dog to rerun the course after the rest of the team has finished.
As soon as the first dog’s nose returns across the start/finish line the next dog is off!
The first team to have all four of their racing dogs complete their run cleanly wins the heat.