Flyball is a popular competitive sport for dogs. The game first emerged in California in the 1960s, and has steadily grown popular, with national tournaments being held in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and many other countries. The sport in general consists of a series of hurdles over which the dogs must jump, before they reach the flyball box. This box features a spring loaded pad, which launches a tennis ball when pressed. The dog must then catch the tennis ball and race back across the obstacle course, with the fastest dog being the winner.
A dog requires a great deal of careful and attentive training to succeed at the sport, and there are all kinds of training equipment available to achieve this, both those designed specifically for the sport, and general dog training equipment. A wide range of training equipment for flyball can be found on eBay.
Setting Up a Flyball Lane
A typical flyball lane consists of a number of main parts. If a dog owner has the space, they can set up a flyball lane to train their dog on, indoors or in the garden.
* The flyball hurdle is a key part of the flyball lane. These are hurdles which can be of varying sizes, over which the dog running the course has to jump.
* A typical flyball lane features four hurdles, often referred to as jumps, spaced ten feet apart from each other along the course.
* Typically, these hurdles can be between seven to fourteen inches tall, with the actual size of the hurdles in professional flyball set ups often varies depending on the height of the dogs taking part. Most flyball hurdles are adjustable.
* The gate of a flyball lane is another key element. In professionally set up lanes for official games, the gate of a flyball lane includes electronic sensors for use in determining the winner of the game. The owner must never step past the gate, which is generally placed six feet from the final jump of the lane.
* The flyball box is a key part of a flyball lane, and is integral to the playing of the sport. This is the box which the dogs race towards, and activate by pressing their paws onto a pad. This launches the tennis ball, which they must catch in their mouth, before racing back through the lane. This box will have to be loaded by a person placed at the other end of the lane.
* A collection of tennis balls is needed for this, and are affordable and widely available. These can be used on their own to help train a dog's agility and reflexes, as well as part of a fun game for the dog.
* When a new dog is being trained for flyball, a lane often incorporates netting, which can help to train the dog to stay focussed and remain on the lane, as well as prevent them from becoming distracted and wandering off.
Types of Flyball Games
There are two main types of flyball game which can be played, and they all operate on similar rules.
Single Dog Run
A single dog run is the simplest type of flyball game for both the dog and the owner. The dog runs through the course alone, with the owner running alongside to guide them. This can be simpler as there is less of a need to quickly get out of the way for other dogs to run.
A team run consists of a number of dogs, often around four, running the course one after another, in rapid succession. This type of flyball run can be harder to complete successfully, and requires a great deal of practice and focus from both the dog and its owner. A key element here is to ensure that the whole team is ready before running, and quickly leading the dog out of the way of the rest of team after a completed run.
There are a number of key things to remember when taking a dog through a flyball lane.
* Reaching for treats to reward a dog for a successful run too early could lead the dog to believe that run has already ended. This can cause them to leave the lane, failing the run, or cause them get in the way of other dogs.
* Getting hold of a dog after completing a run is an important step in this sport, as if an excited dog gets loose, or stays out of reach for too long, they can cause chaos amongst the other competitors and even accidents.
* Flyball collars are widely available in a variety of colours, designs and materials. These collars are often designed to aid the owner in holder their dog, both at the starting line of a flyball lane, or when getting hold of them again after a run. These collars can make handling a dog during a flyball tournament considerably easier than an ordinary collar.
Training a Dog for Flyball
Training a dog with games and activities for agility and obedience can greatly help in preparing a dog for flyball training, as well as keeping them occupied and giving them exercise.
Agility and Obedience Training
* A wide array of items useful for agility training are available for use in training a dog.
* These can include items such as agility tunnels, collapsible and easily transported tunnels through which dogs can be trained to run.
* Slalom and weave ppoles and guides can be used to set up small obstacle courses for a dog to run through.
* Jumps cconsisting of hurdles or hoops are also available, and these can be highly useful for training a dog for the flyball lane.
* Dog treats are an essential item in dog training. Rewarding successful and good behaviour can reinforce it, and treats offer a simple and effective way to do this. Treat bags are also available which can make carrying a supply of treats for a dog easier and simpler.
There are also a number of games which can be played with a dog which can help to prepare and train it for flyball.
* Playing fetch with a ball or chew toy can familiarise a dog with one of the core elements of flyball, catching and dropping a ball.
* A useful way to get a dog used to the fast paced nature of flyball is to throw one ball up into the air for the dog to catch, and have them drop it immediately before throwing another ball for them to catch. This not only acclimatises the dog to a fast pace, but also trains them to drop the ball on command, which is important for a successful flyball run.
* A cost effective way of practising flyball and preparing a dog for the game is a small obstacle course set up, using items such as a low safety gate, with smaller items being a good choice for beginners. Having a dog chase a ball over the gate can get them used to jumping, which is a skill that is required for a successful flyball run.
Flyball is a popular game and sport for dogs and dog owners, and can offer an exciting pass time for both. A wide range of equipment useful for training dogs for specific flyball activities as well as general obedience and agility training is available, and this can range from simple treats to the equipment needed to set up a flyball lane. A wide range of dog training equipment, as well as other pet supplies, can be found on eBay.