Friday, April 9, 2010

Flyball Training - Part 1

Well, before we get started in this series of posts dedicated to training your dog for flyball, let's talk about some of the history of flyball.

It all bagan in the late 1960's, when a group of trainers from Southern California created a scent discrimination hurdle race. When the dogs finished, there would be someone who would throw tennis balls to the dogs. They then decided to build something that would launch the balls known as a box. The first box was created by Herbert Wagner and Herbert also did a demo on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Doing that enabled the word to spread on this great sport. It was several dog training clubs in Toronto-Detroit area that held the first competition. After it was a big enough sport the first real tournament was held in 1983 and in 1985, Mike Randell wrote the first ever NAFA rule book and became the first NAFA Executive Director.

In Flyball, two teams race side-by-side over a 51 foot course. Each dog must run down the lane, jump over all four jumps, trigger the box, catch the ball, and go back over all four jumps again. All four dogs on the team must do this. There is no time limit, but you are racing at the same time that the other team is. Therefore, you are trying to beat their time.

The jump height is set to the height of the smallest dogs on the team's withers. The number is then rounded down to the nearest inch and another 5in. is subtracted, but the min. height is 7 in. For example, a 13 3/4 in. dog would round down to a 13 in. dog, then you subtract 5 inches and get 8 in. jump height. Like I said the min. jump height is 7in., while the max. is 14 in.

When flyball was first started there were no start and passing lights. It was all called by line judges who used stop watches to time the races and they would do "ready, set, go!" and when they called go, they would blow a whistle. The jump heights were set to a 10 in. min. and the height of the jumps was determined by the height of the smallest dog, like they do now, except it was rounded up or down. For example, if the height of the dog was 13 3/4 inches than they would round up to 14 in., but if it was 13 1/4 inches than they would round down to 13 in.

When the Electronic Judging system (EJS) came it made things a whole lot easier. The EJS uses lights and infrared timing to show the teams their starts, finishes, passing and individual times. Most teams run all four dogs under 20 sec and the World Record is 15.22 seconds. That's fast.

The NAFA divides their tournaments in divisions. Teams compete against other teams that are equal to themselves. Purebred and mixes can compete in flyball and earn titles. The NAFA holds nearly 300 tournaments a year.

Titles Each time a team races in a NAFA sanctioned Flyball tournament, their dogs earn points based on the following:

-under 24 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 25 points towards a Flyball title

-under 28 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 5 points

-under 32 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 1 point

20 Flyball Dog (FD)
(includes certificate of achievement)
100 Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX)
(includes certificate of achievement)
500 Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh)
(includes certificate of achievement)
1000 Flyball Dog Champion-Silver (FDCh-S)
(includes certificate of achievement)
2500 Flyball Dog Champion-Gold (FDCh-G)
(includes certificate of achievement)
5000 Flyball Master (FM)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
10,000 Flyball Master Excellent (FMX)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
15,000 Flyball Master Champion (FMCh)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
20,000 ONYX
(includes commemorative plaque and pin)
30,000 Flyball Grand Champion (FGDCh-30)
(includes Commemorative Plaque and Pin)
40,000 Commemorative pin and plaque
50,000-90,000 Commemorative pin and plate for 40k plaque
100,000 Hobbes Award
(includes commemorative pin and plaque)

Well, this talk has been fun. I look forward to teaching you how to train your dog for flyball. I'm still not sure how long this series will last, but hopefully not to long. Keep in Touch!

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