"Them dogs is flying!" - Dave Letterman stated on the Late Show, May 15, 1996 after seeing a demonstration of flyball. While flyball may not be a household name just quite yet, it is gaining an immense following in the United States.
The sport consists of two teams with 4 dogs each. They race side-by-side over a 51 foot long course. Each dog must run in relay fashion down the jumps. When they reach the end of the track, they must step on the ball-launching box and catch the ball in their mouth before returning over the jumps. This step is repeated for all 4 dogs. Each dog must wait before its teammate makes its way throughout the entire track before running. The first team to have all 4 dogs finish the course without any errors is claimed the winner and wins the “heat.”
Flyball got its start during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Johnny Carson show made the sport well-known after a demonstration was shown on air in the late 1970s. It became very popular after the airing of the show and the first flyball tournament was held in 1983. The North American Flyball Association was created in the 1980s and remains the authority over the sport with over 400 active clubs and 6,500 competing dogs.
Unlike many dog sports that require AKC registered breeds, flyball lets everyone play. That’s right, everyone! Flyball sees no shape or color. It doesn’t matter if it's a mixed breed, purebred or rescue, all dogs are welcome.
It's a fun game that will get your dog pumped for competing and exercising. The sport allows for your dog to release excess energy and gain socialization skills from other dogs. They are stimulated physically and mentally in this challenging game. It's fun to watch for humans and heart racing for the dogs. Let’s face it, this exciting game is far better than just a standard game of fetch and it's sure to leave your dog in a tail wagging mood.
The course consists of a starting line, 4 hurdles, and a box. The height of the hurdle is determined by the smallest dog on the team. According to the North American Flyball Association, “…this dog, called the 'height dog', is measured at the withers, then that number is rounded down to the nearest inch and another 5" is subtracted to get the jump height (with the minimum jump height being 7"). So a 13 1/4" dog would round down to 13", minus 5", would jump 8". Maximum jump height is 14".”
The 4 hurdles along the track are spaced out evenly from each other at 10 feet apart. The first hurdle is place 6 feet from the start line and the box is 15 feet from the last hurdle. Tracks are lighted with an Electronic Judging System. This allows dogs times to be tracked using lights and infrared timing sensors.
As the teams run the track, the dogs earn points toward a winning title. Based off their start and end times, dogs that run the track in less than 32 seconds will receive 1 point, less than 28 seconds will receive 5 points, and less than 24 seconds will receive 25 points. The titles available for the dogs to win are:
|FDX||Flyball Dog Excellent||100||Certificate|
|FDCh||Flyball Dog Champion||500||Certificate|
|FDCh Silver||Flyball Dog Champion||1000||Certificate|
|FDCh Gold||Flyball Dog Champion||2500||Certificate|
|FMX||Flyball Master Excellent||10000||Pin|
|FMCh||Flyball Master Champion||15000||Pin|
|FGDCh||Flyball Grand Champion||30000||Plaque|
|FGDCh 40k, 50k, Etc.||Flyball Grand Champion 40k, 50k, Etc.||40000, 50000, Etc.||Plaque|
|Hobbes||Hobbes Award||100,000||Plaque Addendum|
Flyball is not only an action packed game comprised of speed and agility, but it's also a great way to tire out your pup. Dogs love competing just as much as we do, and flyball is the perfect way to get your dog active. The North American Flyball Association offers a team locator, so you can find a team in your area and get active.