Flyball is a relay race to retrieve a ball between teams of 4 dogs each. The dogs run down a straight line where they must jump over 4 hurdles placed ten feet apart before they retrieve the ball and turn around to do it again. They must step on a flyball box which releases the ball so they can then catch it. The hurdles are set to the height of the withers (shoulder blades) of the smallest dog on each team. Each dog must bring its ball across the start line before the next dog can be released to retrieve their's. The team that returns all 4 balls the fastest without error wins what is called the “heat”. Penalties are applied for errors. Generally in competitions every team goes against every other team (Round Robin Scoring) and the team which wins the most heats overall wins the competition.
Even though Flyball is a relatively new dog sport supposedly originating in the 1960s/1970s in California, it is popular all over the world. Flyball competitions include multibreed classes so everyone can participate and because it is a group activity, it is that much more fun. Below are some of the major competitions/tournaments that take place. Alwasy make sure to read and understand each competitions rules and guidelines if you plan to apply.
One of the benefits of winning a championship title is that some Kennel Clubs will even officially recognize a dog who receives a title with a record of it on their certificates. This is great for breeders because dogs who have championship bloodlines can generally be sold for more money. Of course money is not the only reason Flyball is a great competition to participate in. It is also extremely satisfying for our dogs and is fun for us humans.
Popular Flyball Competitions
The North American Flyball Association or NAFA runs flyball tournaments including the Can Am Flyball Classic in Indianopolis, Indiana.
At the Can Am they officially set the record in 2010 for having 810 dogs participate in a one day tournament. Thus awarding them with the “Largest Flyball Tournament” World record.
Who can participate: Purebreeds, multibreeds, Small to XLarge
Crufts is the world’s largest dog show located in the UK and includes flyball competitions and much more. This annual competition has been running for over 125 years. In order to compete at Crufts you will have to win in a national competition. You can find out what it takes to qualify for the Crufts on their website.