What is flyball?
Flyball is a team sport for dogs. Each individual dog must clear four jumps before hitting a flyball box at the end of the jumps in order to eject a ball from the flyball box. The dog must then catch the ball and return over the previous four jumps and cross the original start line with the dog in its mouth in order to complete its run correctly. After the first dog – termed the “start dog” completes its run the number two dog follows suit and the number three dog follows two and the number four dog – usually the height dog – finishes the race for the team. The dogs total cumulative time is then measured against the team they are racing in the lane next to them in order to determine the winner. The team with the fastest time wins the race unless one side does not finish the race.
What’s the point of flyball?
Dogs are given points depending on where they finish in their team races and where they finish in their division. These points go towards titles for the individual dogs.
Teams also run to win the tournament. Tournaments are put on by local flyball teams and sanctioned by either NAFAA or UFli, which are the two flyball organizations that put together flyball events.
False Start – a false start is when the start dog crosses the start line too early. The judge has a light system that determines when the dogs may be released by their owners to begin the race. A dog is allowed one false start per race. If a dog false starts more than once the team must re-run the dog at the end of the race or the team will be given a “no-finish” designation if the team refuses to re-run the dog, which means that they forfeit the race.
Bad Pass – passing is critical to the success of a flyball team. After the start dog completes its run the remaining dogs must pass other dogs that are returning from their run. If a dog passes the starting line too soon the dog must re-run or if the team declines to re-run the dog the team will be given a “no finish.”
Box turn – a box turn is what a dog must execute in order to eject the tennis ball from the flyball box and turn around in order to run back over the jumps.
Interference – a line separates the two lanes that each team runs in. If a dog crosses over the line and interferes with one of the other teams’ dogs then that team forfeits the race.
The Roles of Dogs
Start dog – the dog that starts the race. Usually, this is a dog that has difficulty passing into other dogs or an owner who has difficulty passing. The start dog can also be the fastest dog on the team as the fastest dog can set the pace for the rest of the race.
Height dog – jumps are measured by the height of the smallest dog. Most teams utilize what’s known as a “height dog” so there dogs can jump a smaller jump height. Height dogs are usually one of the slower dogs on the team and often run last.