Expert Q&A

What’s flyball, and can any dog participate in the sport? I have a female beagle that is very active.

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

The sport of flyball began over two decades ago and is one of the fastest-growing dog sports in North America. According to the United Flyball League International, flyball is a canine relay race in which teams of four dogs and four handlers compete head-to-head with other teams to complete the flyball course in as little time as possible.

Each dog must negotiate eight hurdles. Halfway through, the dog must trigger, release and catch a ball from a spring-loaded box. The dog then carries the ball back over the original four hurdles. For spectators and owners alike, it’s always a fun, suspenseful moment to see the flyball. The sport can get incredibly speedy, with top dogs completing the course in less than 16 seconds.

Says Leerie Jenkins, chair of the board of directors of the North American Flyball Association: “As long as the dog is physically able to safely compete, can get along with other dogs and people, and is at least 1 year old, they can compete.” He adds that small dogs and less-common breeds are valued team members. There are different classes of competition too, including a veteran’s class for dogs over the age of 7.

If you haven’t already done so, check out a local competition with your dog and see if you both like it. My guess is that you’ll both soon be flyball fans and participants.

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