History of Flyball
The dog sits on a box releasing a tennis ball.Flyball started as a dog sport in the late 1960's and early 1970's, in Southern California. Some dog trainers combined scent hurdle racing with the dogs bringing back tennis ball to the finish line. Then a tennis ball-launching apparatus was added and the first flyball box was born. Herbert Wagner is credited with making the first real flyball box, and he also demonstrated flyball on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
The first Flyball tournament was held in 1983 in the USA.
Flyball has now expanded into many countries including Australia, Canada and South Africa, and in Europe countries such as Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland have National flyball tournaments and also hold joint annual European championships.
The European championships were held in Britain in 2007 the Czech Republic in 2008 and Belgium in 2009.
Nature of the Sport
A Border Collie jumps hurdles in a flyball demonstration.Flyball provides an entertaining and active way to interact with one's dog and other dog enthusiasts in an environment that is fun and allows the dogs exercise and enjoyment. It is an especially effective way to burn off the energy of dogs with a high drive to work, such as Border Collies and Terriers.
A large part of flyball's popularity stems from the fact that it is one of the competition activities available to mixed-breed dogs, allowing rescued mutts and non pedigree dogs to shine alongside their purebred canine counterparts. Though herding dogs currently dominate the courses, many champion teams have mutts on them. Dogs earn titles and awards based on points earned by their team in racing.
Flyball is not limited to the size of the breed, as smaller dogs such as Jack Russell Terriers and Whippets often compete with great success in mixed-breed teams (teams consisting of dogs of various sizes and breeds). Smaller dogs are often prized as the hurdle height is based on the height of the smallest dog in the team, commonly known as a "height dog". Their only limitation is whether they can trigger the release pad, and small dogs often have to fully jump on it to do so.
Flyball is one of the non-hunting dog sports in which dogs and people work as a team. Many casual pet owners use their flyball time more as a way to relax and socialize with other dog owners than as a competition, and many champion flyball dogs are essentially pet dogs with a hobby, rather than dedicated sporting or working dogs.