07 December 2012

Flyball

On the surface, it’s very simple: four dogs run a relay race in which they run down a lane over four jumps, trigger the box to release a ball, catch that ball, and run back over the four jumps. Fastest team wins...

You want the dog to target that flyball box from back before he is ever released. You want him to get to that box as fast as he possibly can while completely ignoring everything else going on around him. He needs to ignore the dogs in the other lane a few feet to the side of him. He also needs to be able to ignore the dog on his team that he is passing nose-to-nose. He needs to ignore people screaming and waving tugs and jumping up and down and running and smacking the ground. There is a lot of chaos in flyball, and for many dogs, finding the focus to play the game well is very hard...

Dogs of all different breeds can play flyball, but athletic, moderate-build, small to medium-sized dogs are best suited to the physical rigors of the game. I’ve seen dogs as big as Leonbergers (and as small as Papillons) play, but it is very hard to get a nice, safe, efficient box turn on a huge dog simply due to the size of the box. Small dogs are always in demand because the height of the team’s jumps is set by the height of the shortest dog running. The lower the jumps, the easier it is for the dogs, and generally the faster they’ll be. 
Text and video from Team Unruly.   Here is a 40-minute video of the premier competition at the Crufts dog show in 2012:

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