What Is Flyball Training For Dogs

If you have ever watched Flyball, it can be fun yet it is confusing as it happens so fast. This is a popular team sport for teams of four dogs.

Flyball is a very demanding sport and requires dogs to run, jump and grab a ball at extremely high speeds. In this article, we will tell you what flyball is and what flyball training is for dogs. 

What Is Flyball Training For Dogs

What Is Flyball?

Flyball is a sport that began in 1960s/1970s Southern California, where teams of dogs race against each other from the start to a finish line.

They race each other, while also jumping over hurdles and then they have to catch a ball which is released once the dog can press the button for it to be released.

They then have to run back to their trainer/handler while carrying their caught ball. It is a very intense sport and there are a lot of elements to teach your dog. All dogs that are 15 months or older can take part.

Also any breed of dog can take part too, all that is required is that your dog can behave around other dogs. It can’t have any aggression issues and must be able to listen to its owner. 

As any breed of dog can participate, the height of the hurdles are determined by the officials measuring the height of the team’s smallest dog and subtracting 5 inches.

The maximum hurdle height can be 14 inches, while the lowest hurdle height can be 7 inches. If you fancy getting involved in Flyball, there are clubs for you and your dog to join. They offer classes and help you train.

There are clubs all over the US, so you’ll be able to find one to suit you and your dog really easily.

Training For Flyball

Training for flyball is broken down into tasks and then all that work is put together at the end. When it comes to training for this sport, you need to set up a mock up competitive course with the right sized hurdles and a spring loaded ball box.

This is so that you train your dog, knowing what to expect. You should use a tennis ball and place your four hurdles 6 feet from the start line and 10 feet between each jump. 

If you are training for competitive reasons, then you should try to assimilate the real competition course as close as possible to.

However if you are doing it just for fun, then you can set up hurdles that your dog enjoys doing and you don’t have to have a spring loaded ball box. There are many methods on how to train your dog Flyball, however the method we will mention is the simplest.

Before You Start Training

This is a very physically demanding sport and training requires a lot of work and effort. Before you start training, you need to make sure that your dog is well and in good physical condition.

Also your dog should have excellent obedience training and listen to you all the time. 

Method Of Training

The ball method is quite a popular way of training your dog to play Flyball. This is where you begin training by teaching your dog to fetch and bring the ball back to you.

Then you start to introduce hurdles and the dog jumping the hurdles to get the ball. You keep adding hurdles and then you teach them to turn. However right now we are going to tell you all the skills you need to train your dog to be able to complete Flyball. 

Fetch

Teach your dog to play fetch. You will throw a tennis ball and teach your dog to bring this ball back to you without dropping it.

Once your dog brings the ball back to you without dropping it, then you can reward them. Repeat them a few times, until the behaviour has been established.

Retrieve

Teach your dog to retrieve the tennis ball. You will place a tennis ball on the floor at the end of an obstacle course.

Then you teach your dog to retrieve this ball for you, by going through the obstacle course. Reward once they have mastered this.

Hurdles

There are four hurdles in Flyball that your dog will have to go over twice. Hence you must teach your dog to successfully clear agility jumping hurdles.

First start with one hurdle and slowly add more. Once your dog can successfully jump all four hurdles, reward them with a treat for their hard work.

Trigger Ball Box

Your dog has to trigger the ball box themselves by having your dog put their paws on the front sheet, which is placed in front of the ball box. This can take some practice, either lure your dog to put their paws on the sheet or use a clicker when they happen to do it.

You want to be rewarding your dog, everytime they put their paws on the sheet because this is the thing that triggers the box to release the ball they have to catch.

Turn

Turning is an important element to teach your dog, because they have to jump the hurdles twice. This is something you could teach after they have mastered jumping four hurdles.

Try setting up a pole in front of the ball box. Then teach your dog to run around the pole and back to you. Once they have mastered the pole, you can then start adding in the hurdles.

In the end you want them to be able to jump all the hurdles, turn around the pole and jump back. Then at some point you should be able to remove the role, but they naturally know that they should turn and come back to you over the hurdles. 

Launch

This is quite a tricky part of the course to teach sometimes. You need to teach your dog to launch itself off the inclined ball box, run around the pole and run back to you.

This launch is to give them some extra power and energy to run back over the hurdles to you.

Everything Comes Together

Once your dog has mastered all the skills individually then you can string all of them together, one by one. You’ll find while teaching the skills individually that some skills naturally lead into other ones.

By the end your dog should be able to do the entire course.

Your dog will be able to jump over the four hurdles, touch the trigger, catch the ball, turn around and launch off the ball box, and finally jump over the four hurdles one more time to you.

There is a lot to Flyball training, but start by breaking down the tasks and it’ll become a lot easier.

There are other methods on how to teach Flyball, but really all the methods are the same, they just tell you to teach your dog the same skills in different orders.

Conclusion

Flyball is a very fast sport that dogs take part and compete in. Flyball training for dogs is very demanding and they have to learn a lot of skills and combine them together to complete the course.

The training is quite simple once it has been broken down, and elements of the training naturally lead onto the next thing to teach your dog. This is a fun but demanding sport to teach your dog, which is very enjoyable for energetic dogs.

Daniel Johnson
Latest posts by Daniel Johnson (see all)