Why It’s Time to Catch on to The Sport of Flyball

Fun and challenging for both you and your active dog, flyball takes fetch to the next level.

Dogs have an inherent love for chasing and retrieving balls; they never turn down a game of fetch. If your dog loves to fetch and you are looking for a fun activity that the two of you can do together, consider the sport of flyball. Flyball is an awesome way to connect with your dog, to enhance his training and to give him something fun to do.

What is Flyball?

Flyball is more than just a big game of fetch; it is an organized obstacle course-style relay in which dogs compete in teams of four for the fastest time.

In a competition, two teams of four dogs each race side-by-side over a 51-foot long course. The course begins with a series of obstacles that the dog must jump over in order to reach a spring-loaded box. When the box is reached, the dog presses the spring pad to release the ball, which the dog must retrieve. Once the dog catches the ball, he races back over the hurdles to the starting line to his handler. When the first dog reaches the starting line, the next dog on the team begins and the process repeats until all of the dogs on the team have completed the course. The team with the fastest time wins, so training is important to ensure that your dog has a good performance.

Flyball Organizations

The North American Flyball Association (NAFA) is one of several groups that oversees the sport. There are more than 400 active clubs and 6,500 competing dogs across the United States and Canada. Many hold beginner to advanced classes, as well as competitions.

Best Breeds For Flyball?

Any dog can compete or just enjoy flyball; it doesn’t matter if they’re a purebred or mixed breed dog. However, there are breeds that are seen most often at the course. These are Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers.

But when it comes down to it, the best type of dog for flyball is your dog. It helps if they love to run, chase balls and are already fit. A flyball participant has to be in good condition, which means he needs to be exercised daily and have good muscle tone.

If you’re just getting started, your dog needs to be at least a year old; this isn’t a puppy sport. Because of the stress of jumping and landing that flyball requires, this can cause injury to a dog that is not fully developed. But if you know that you want your puppy to become a flyball dog, start with basic obedience training, good manners and teaching recall, so he’ll have all the tools he needs when he’s old enough to join the sport.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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