Animal trainers could be construed as a zealous bunch. There is all manner of group, program, and organization which animal trainers become convinced their animal is the perfect candidate for. If their animal has a special skill for which there is no organization, then the really inventive animal lovers make an organization up. So it goes for “Flyball.” Many people may never have heard of Flyball before, but there is a nearly 30 year-old North American Flyball Association which caters to this proud sport. So what is Flyball? What is the history of Flyball? How can your very talented dog bridge the gap and themselves get into Flyball competitions themselves?
What is Flyball: According to the North American Flyball Associations website, Flyball is where “two teams of four dogs each, racing side by side over a 51 foot long course,” compete. Flyball is played where “each dog must run in relay fashion down the jumps, trigger a Flyball box, (thereby) releasing the ball, (retrieving) the ball, and return(ing) over the jumps.” This is a relay though so subsequent dogs have to go after the first sequence. “The next dog is released to run the course but can’t cross the start/finish line until the previous dog has returned over all 4 jumps and reached the start/finish line. The first team to have all 4 dogs finish the course without error wins the heat.” While this may sound complicated, this is what dog owners train their pooches for.
History of Flyball: Flyball came about in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. A group of Southern California dog trainers created “scent discrimination hurdle racing.” To make this game more interesting they put an individual “at the end to throw tennis balls to the dogs when they finished the jump line.” Eventually the group built a tennis ball-launching device; thus Flyball was born. The world of competitive pet sportsmanship was listening; apparently Johnny Carson was listening as well as a Flyball demo was done on his show. “The first Flyball tournament was held in 1983.”
North American Flyball Association: With the growing popularity of Flyball in America, there needed to be an organization. The North American Flyball Association took on that burden; creating a nonprofit organization and actually writing a rulebook, sanctioning tournaments around North America, and implementing an Electronic Judging System which “uses lights and infrared sensors,” to track the movement of the competitions.
How to Get Your Dog Into Flyball: If this sounds like something that your dog is perfect for, you may wish to learn more. Fortunately for you there are more than 375 active Flyball clubs registered with the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) all over the US and Canada. If you go to the NAFA website you can find these clubs based on your location. The next best thing to do if you’d like to involve your dog in Flyball is to check the “NAFA Regions page to find out what region” you are a part of. You’ll have to join a team so the best way to do that is by either attending a Flyball tournament and/or joining the Flyball email list where “newcomers in search of a team can post to this list,” and maybe get connected with a team in need!