Hills Pet Nutrition Ltd

Flyball for the first time?

flyballOur expert
Helen Taylor who runs the Fun 4 All Dog Club (www.fun4alldogclub.co.uk),organising non-competitive agility, flyball, and rally obedience classes answers our common questions.
Q) I’m considering trying some new activities with my dog; he’s a collie-cross and very athletic. I’m thinking about trying flyball, which they do at my local club. It looks fun but I know very little about the rules. Can you explain it to me?


A. Flyball is a fun, social activity for both dogs and owners. Many people find the speed and excitement of the dogs jumping over the small hurdles very thrilling and rewarding to watch.
All breeds and sizes of dogs can take part in this sport, either for fun or competitively, making it an ideal activity for your dog.
It consists of a timed relay race between competing teams, with four dogs in each team. Two dogs (one from each team) race side by side in their own lanes; each dog must go over four hurdles before triggering a box at the end of the lane, releasing a tennis ball for them to catch. The dogs have to return over the four hurdles to the start/finish line, with the ball still in their mouths, where the next dogs await their turn. Flyball is great fun, so it’s well worth speaking to your local club.
 
Q. Is flyball only for collies?
A. Flyball is a sport any dog can enjoy, regardless of breed, shape, or size. Itencompasses all the things that dogs love  — chasing, jumping, catching, retrieving, and running.
Dogs with lots of energy excel at flyball, rather than just a particular breed or size. Some breeds have higher energy levels than others, such as English Pointers, spaniels, and Labradors. Other dog breeds, such as retrievers and Dalmatians, are also classed as high-energy dogs. However, small breeds such as Chihuahuas or Miniature Schnauzers, can be just as fast and consistent as their larger counterparts. If you want to compete in Flyball, there are multi-breed tournaments, so you don’t have to discount cross-breeds either.


Q. I have a Great Dane, Mo, who is three years old. She’s a well-trained, happy individual but I feel she could do with a bit of variety in her life. What’s your view about giant breeds doing agility training? Does the equipment need to be modified? Are there too many potential risks or do you think a little training would benefit my Dane?

A. Mo is the ideal age for either fun agility or flyball. All giant breeds should wait until they have some maturity, both mentally and physically — 18 months is an ideal age. Young dogs endure enough risks to joints from everyday jumping, twisting, and turning during play, without additional risks from agility training.
The perception that big dogs can’t enjoy sporting activities is unfounded; many love it and take to it with enthusiasm. Great Danes are exuberant dogs who are keen and willing, and enjoy interaction with their owners.
Agility contact equipment needs to be adapted for giant breeds, requiring extra width and strengthening to endure the extra weight.
When I do agility training with my Great Dane, Measles, I use a reinforced A-frame, a dog walk that’s 17in-wide and strengthened with two extra supports, which stands at 3ft high, and a 15in-wide see-saw on a lower stand to reduce the tilt down. A standard agility tunnel is too small. I use either the 30 or 39in-high tunnels for regular training. Weave poles are set wider to reduce spinal twisting, which can cause skeletal injuries.
Other considerations include keeping training sessions short — between 30 minutes and an hour is plenty.
As giant breeds are prone to gastric torsion, don’t feed your dog less than an hour before or after training, and avoid rewarding with food too much.
Two major agility equipment manufacturers make equipment to order, costing only a few more pounds than the standard sized equipment.
However, flyball equipment doesn’t need to be adapted for giant breeds. Hurdles are a maximum 12in high, and a flyball box is suitable for dogs of all sizes. Mo might thoroughly enjoy flyball, but when training pay particular attention to how she hits the box to eject the ball. You might need to steady her as she gets near to the box; this will minimise any high-impact soft tissue injury to her shoulders.
As with all training, it should be, and can be, great fun for both you and your dog, whatever the size.

Q. I’m considering trying some new activities with my dog; he’s a collie-cross and very athletic. I’m thinking about trying flyball, which they do at my local club. It looks fun but I know very little about the rules. Can you explain it to me?

A. Flyball is a fun, social activity for both dogs and owners. Many people find the speed and excitement of the dogs jumping over the small hurdles very thrilling and rewarding to watch.
All breeds and sizes of dogs can take part in this sport, either for fun or competitively, making it an ideal activity for your dog.
It consists of a timed relay race between competing teams, with four dogs in each team. Two dogs (one from each team) race side by side in their own lanes; each dog must go over four hurdles before triggering a box at the end of the lane, releasing a tennis ball for them to catch. The dogs have to return over the four hurdles to the start/finish line, with the ball still in their mouths, where the next dogs await their turn.
Flyball is great fun, so it’s well worth speaking to your local club.

 

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