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What is Flyball?

Flyball is a team sport for dogs that was invented in California in the late 70's. Legend has it that Herbert Wagner first showed it on the Johnny Carson Show to millions of Americans. Soon afterwards dog trainers and dog clubs were making and using Flyball Boxes. In the early 80's the sport became so popular that the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was formed. The British Flyball Association (BFA) regulates the sport here in the UK.

There are two different forms of Flyball: "BFA" Flyball and "Crufts" Flyball.

Sam’s team – “The Blackpool Super Novas” follow the BFA rules, the difference being the design of the box and that all the timings are recorded electronically rather than “by eye”. This also means that changeovers have to be more accurate and generally results in a more accurate and faster game.

How is the game played?

flyball1Flyball is a team sport for dogs and their handlers. Teams of four dogs (plus two reserves, if required) each compete in a relay race. The handlers are responsible for motivating their dogs to increase their speed and timing the starting run of each dog to make the overall team time as fast as possible - and boy is it a noisy but extremely enjoyable affair!

The competition is two-fold; the team races against another team for tournament "placement" and also against the clock for points toward titles.

BFA Flyball is a fast team sport. Each dog runs in turn over four jumps, triggers the spring-loaded box, which releases a tennis ball, and then returns over the four jumps carrying the ball. When the first dog's nose has crossed the start/finish line, the next dog can go. Any dog which makes a mistake must re-run the course as the last dog.

Four dogs participate in any one leg, the reserves being permitted to be swapped in between legs, for tactical reasons or to replace a tired or faulting dog. A race usually consists of three or five legs. The winners are the team who complete the course in the shortest time. This includes the time taken to run any re-runs due to faults incurred. When the first dog's nose has crossed the start/finish line, the next dog can go.

Dogs of any size or breed can play flyball. All compete over the same course. The only concession made for smaller dogs is the jump height, i.e. 4" under the shoulder height of the smallest dog. Under BFA rules the jump height must be between 8" and 14"

The fastest time is 16.06 seconds by Instant Replay from Ontario, Canada.

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This is the organisation in Great Britain which promotes international flyball racing, based on the rules from North America where flyball originated some 15 years ago. As a member you receive the flyball record and are entitled to accumulate points at competitions in order for your dog to gain his/her flyball title.

Titles

The dogs earn points towards Flyball titles based on the teams time:

  • less than 32 secs: Each dog receives 1 point
  • less than 28 secs: Each dog receives 5 points
  • ess than 24 secs: Each dog receives 25 points

Current Titles Available:

Flyball Dog 200 points
Flyball Dog Intermediate 1000 points
Flyball Dog Graduate 3000 points
Flyball Dog Advanced 5000 points
Flyball Dog Silver 10000 points
Flyball Dog Gold 15000 points
Ice Blue Moon Award 20000 points

Sam’s dog “Pip”, who has been competing for 18 months, is currently an intermediate dog.

Competition Format

Competitions are usually classed as "open" or "multibreed", although "starters" and other fun classes are also held, together with mixed pairs, mini/maxi pairs, open pairs and singles shoot outs. In most competitions the teams are seeded according to their fastest recent times in competition. If the team has not run in competition during the preceding three months, then a seeded time must be declared by the team captain. This means that racing may be split into divisions according to time. If there are not too many teams competing, a "double elimination" format may be used, where having been beaten twice, a team is then placed in a division for a "round robin" consolation competition.

Racing Lanes

trackThe dimensions are very important - 6' from the start line to the first jump, 10' between jumps and 15' from the last jump to the front of the box. Additionally markers are placed at various intervals back from the start line to enable the handler to judge the changeovers, which are perhaps the most important part of the race.

The Box

The BFA Flyball box is totally different to the KC Flyball box. The dog actually turns using the box, which is specially designed to reduce the impact. Shock absorbent padding and the curved front are important safety features. Boxes can have 1, 2 or 3 holes for the ball. The box loader must keep his hands behind his back and stand up during the race (except when loading the balls) but may use verbal encouragement.

box1
box2

Changeovers - electronic starting and change over lights

As speed is of the essence, it is important that the dogs "cross" nose to nose on the start line. It takes a great deal of practice to build up the dog's confidence and for the handler to know when and from what distance to let the dog go. For example, some handlers will release their dogs 50' back from the start line when the preceding dog is jumping the first jump on the return run.

What breeds can play flyball?

Flyball is not an AKC sport, so any breed or mix breed can play.

Any dog from Yorkshire Terriers to German Shepherd dogs,can be trained to play Flyball with PERSISTENCE… as long as they enjoy chasing a tennis ball – we can train them!

Tactics are vital!

Teamwork and enjoyment ensured for both dogs and handlers alike!

It may sound easy!

But dogs will be dogs and anything can and does happen!

Basset

Page updated 14th Oct 2016, 11:25
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