With all your friends jumping on the current fitness trends, and not wanting to be left behind, you and Fido decided it’s time to partake in some sports, too. Your energy level is high and Fido is as ready as the Energizer Bunny on steroids. Where do you start to find your ideal sport? This is the first in a series where we investigate the different dog sports and how they work – starting with flyball.
Flyball is the ideal sport for you if you and your dog are active and enjoy energetic play. If your dog loves playing fetch, then you can seriously consider this sport.
How it works
Two teams of four dogs partake simultaneously in a relay race. In each team, the first dog has to cross four hurdles towards a box. This box contains a tennis ball, which the dog has to release by stepping on a trigger. The ball is released and the dog catches the ball. He then returns to the starting line, where the second dog starts running.
When the second dog returns to the starting point, the third dog completes the course, and then the fourth dog. The first team to have all four dogs back at the starting point is the winner of that round.
“The balls are loaded into the box by a ‘box loader’, which is the toughest job in flyball. This game is loud, it’s fun and it is totally addictive,” explains Christine Broadbent, who is a member of the Flyball Infinity (FBI) team, belonging to the Birch Acres Dog Training Club.
Who can partake
Christine says that any breed can partake in flyball. “As long as the dog can fetch a tennis ball and has a solid recall, he can join in the fun.” Obviously, the dog has to be fit, healthy and able to run as fast as possible.
If you have a senior dog, or a dog suffering from an ailment such as hip dysplasia, it is highly recommended that you consult with your vet first before exposing your dog to such a high-paced sport.
Short training sessions of about 10 minutes a day are usually the best to train your dog for flyball. “Certain aspects, such as tight turns and ball drive, can be taught at home, but you will need to train in a group as well, as flyball is a team sport,” explains Christine.
Some dogs can partake in flyball quite soon; it all depends on how quickly they pick up on what is expected of them.
To partake in the sport, you need to be part of a team. Therefore, you and Fido need to join a club. Christine and her team usually have competitions most Sundays in Gauteng at Goldfields in Bedfordview. “We start early as it’s a very fast-paced sport and the dogs need to run in the cool of the morning.
“Currently Gauteng has various clubs that train flyball. I’m with the Birch Acres Dog Training Club and their flyball name is FBI, and sub-teams are called Swat, Most Wanted and Undercover. We have around three teams,” says Christine. There are other flyball teams across South Africa.
Flyball is run under the rules and schedules of the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA).
Is it for you?
Do you and Fido love people and taking part in team sports? Are you fit and healthy, or want to become fit? Does Fido enjoy playing fetch and have a good recall? If your answer is yes to all of these questions, then your next step should get in contact with your nearest flyball team, or join the group on Facebook/Flyball South Africa