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Kennel Club What is Flyball?


Flyball is essentially a spectator sport involving a team knockout competition. It first became popular as a sport in America and made its debut in the UK at Crufts in 1990.

Flyball is a growing sport which is fast and fun and has a dedicated following at Crufts.  Crowds at Crufts love the noise and thrill of the competition and the dogs love it too!

Informality is encouraged in this fast and fun sport but the safety of dogs, handlers and spectators is of paramount importance.

Each team must have four handlers plus a 'box loader' and some reserves. Two teams compete at one time, with each dog jumping over four hurdles in succession before triggering the pedal on the Flyball box. A tennis ball is then released which the dog must catch and hold before returning over the hurdles to the start line. All competing dogs must wear a smooth buckled collar, or a close fitting harness, which must be used by the handler to restrain the dog whilst waiting its turn, as the dogs get very excited. The first team to have its fourth dog across the finish line, with any part of the dog's body, wins the race. 

Usually the best of three runs decides which team proceeds to the next heat but this can vary.

The area used for a Flyball race needs to be fairly large. Dogs can run at terrific speeds and therefore require a good distance at the end of the race in order to slow down. 

A wide area at the end of the hurdles is also necessary for dogs leaping into the air to catch the ball as it flies out of the box! The design drawing and dimensions of the Kennel Club preferred Flyball box can be found in Annex 2 to the Kennel Club H Regulations. However, alternative designs may be used provided the principles of safety are maintained.

Whatever competition you choose, your dog will be a happier pet for being trained.

There are 4 pieces of equipment required for Flyball.

The hurdles should be 30.9cm (12ins) high for all classes and all sizes of dog and be painted white. For safety, the top rail must be flexible or padded.

Flyball box
the Kennel Club has an approved design for a Flyball box which has been drawn up with the safety of the competing dogs in mind.

Backstop Board
There has to be a Backstop Board in place as dogs can really hurtle over the course and there has to be something there to slow them down!

The balls that are loaded into the box must be un-punctured tennis balls. There is a risk that dogs could choke on something smaller, or damage themselves with something larger.

Crufts 2008 Flyball Team Qualifiers:

  • Vegas
  • Beacon
  • Leamington
  • Glennifer
  • Packington
  • Scunthorpe
  • Dundee
  • Wilton

Dogs - (Correct at time of publication) for more information contact the Kennel Club Tel: 0870 6066750

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