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Flyball 101

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:28 pm
by FransterDoo
The fast, paced sport of flyball started in the 1970’s in California and quickly found it’s roots in Michigan. 49 states now have at least one flyball team.

Can any dog play flyball?

Yes! Flyball accepts all dogs including mixes. We’ve know a number of dogs that also start playing later in life so you also don’t need to have a puppy. Flyball can be very physically intensive so I suggest that you make sure your dog isn’t carrying around extra weight and has had their hips looked at by a veterinarian.

The Foundation Skills of Flyball!

There are three foundation areas for a beginning dog involved in flyball. The first is a high-value motivator. While most flyball people use tugs, anything (as long as it doesn’t make noise!) that your dog loves the most is ok. Once you decide of a motivator then only use it during practice and competitions. Otherwise, it’s out of sight!

The second is a great flyball-style recall. Flyball dogs needs to sprint back to their handler through or next to a number of other dogs and people, some of whom they don’t know. In addition, flyball handlers run away from their dog during the recall.

Start slow and easy if your dog doesn’t currently have a recall. If they do, expand the distance and distraction levels. Try running away from your dog, or making a quick turn left or right. Practice restrained recalls with another person. Have your helper hold the dog while you walk away with their motivator. When you call them have the helper release the dog while you run away.

Here’s an example of some restrained recalls with a puppy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ph-_Q4pv1g

The third is the ability to carry the ball back to you. Having ball drive or “loving balls” is not necessary. Levi will not fetch a ball if you throw it – but he will bring the ball back in flyball. The method we typically use starts off in a short hallway. Toss the ball just 2-3 feet away. Click and reward for investigating the ball. Increase your criteria (touch ball, mouth ball, hold ball in mouth, bringing ball towards you and eventually returning the ball to you. This step can take time so be patient.

Finding A Team.

Flyball is a team sport and it takes multiple people (and extra dogs) to get a newbie (aka green dog) up and competing. In addition, the equipment, especially a good flyball box, can cost hundreds of dollars. They best way to learn flyball is with a currently competing flyball team. Using the locators below, send an email to the team or teams near you and ask if they are teaching classes or know someone who is.

If there is not a team close to you, email the closest team and ask about coming out once or twice a month or if they know anyone closer to you with experience! They may be able to connect you with someone closer or offer an alternate arrangement for lessons.

Club/Team Locators:
http://www.u-fli.com/clublocator.php
http://www.flyball.org/flyball_teams.html

Your first practice.

There are a two things I like to hear at a first practice:
- Training is tailored to each dog and their individual strengths and challenges
- A focus on box training. A good box turn is important for safety and speed.
- That the team ensures that your dog is 99.999% ready for competition – whether that’s participating in a demo, tournament warm-ups, singles or a team.

For reference, these are some nice box turns:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg3KVtuk-Tw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXy3MCT0Fo4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrPlpxMF9SA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_pkiAToZ44

Observe how the team works as a group. Do they enjoy each other? Take pride and ownership in all the dogs? What are the goals of the club or team? Do they primarily run for fun, time, points or tournaments wins?

If you are a naturally competitive person, do your research and find a more competitive team. If you think that you probably don’t want to travel a lot and the team has done 2 long-distance trips in the past 2 months – they may not be for you. It’s ok to change teams or even decide to keep looking. For bully breed owners, assess how “bully breed friendly” the team really is.

I’m always happy to give individual recommendations for team in someone’s area or take a look at a shelter dog that may have the “right stuff”.



Here are some of my favorite flyball videos (and favorite flyball dogs!)

Logic - A border collie in Texas putting in a really nice 3.729 run.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8ffMU-Gdx0

Great, close race between two sub-16 second teams during the NAFA CanAm Classic
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_SBypEczbE

2008 U-Fli Championship Qualifier - Running on Tulsa Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdLs_bH7vLI

2008 U-Fli Championships in Memphis.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D16dfnK3rZo

Dragon the Whippet breaks the singles record with a 3.603
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WfRW8gMN3s

aaaaand the local access report for the June 2010 Bedlam in Bishop tournament. You can find me box loading at about the 2:20 mark.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM1vmc3BQWA

Re: Flyball 101

Posted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:26 am
by spammie
Very nice. Thanks Tracy for writing this. :thumbsup:

Re: Flyball 101

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:23 am
by Supernaturalist
You used a Wixer video! I know that pup! He was born the same day as my Angus.
This video would be useful to explain training dead ball retrieves. http://www.youtube.com/user/Sirelroka#p ... 7jrspj5zmQ

Re: Flyball 101

Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:18 am
by FransterDoo
Supernaturalist wrote:You used a Wixer video! I know that pup! He was born the same day as my Angus.
This video would be useful to explain training dead ball retrieves. http://www.youtube.com/user/Sirelroka#p ... 7jrspj5zmQ



That is a good video of a dead ball retrieve in the end! I was looking all over for a good one and couldn't find one I liked.

Welcome to PBF (and flyball), Supernaturalist! Looks like Angus is a little spitfire!

Re: Flyball 101

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:24 pm
by UnconventionalLove
Lars is ball-obsessed and knows how to hit the target to get the ball to pop out, but where do we go from there? I haven't been able to find a "training guide" on how to shape the whole process anywhere.
One issue we ran into is him being tempted to hit the ball with his feet instead of the target, so I've been removing the ball from the box and tossing it by hand when he hits the target only, any suggestions on where to go from there? Any help would be fantastic!