Flyball is a fast paced team relay race involving jumps and retrieving balls.
Class Description: In this class, we will teach the fundamentals of flyball to you and your dog based upon the current skill level of the student. Students of all levels are encouraged to attend. Since each dog progresses at a different rate, the work is geared toward each dog’s current skill level. You will find that the class is always comprised of students/dogs at varying skill levels.
The training is broken down into three areas:
- Box turn – In order to provide the safest, fastest, most efficient way for the dog to retrieve the tennis ball, we teach a dog what is known as a ‘swimmers turn’ – essentially teach the dog to put all four feet on the flyball box to trigger it, catch the tennis ball, and use the momentum to push back off as quickly as possible. Depending on the size and the build of the dog, we may or may not relax our criteria for performance of the turn. This for most dogs takes the most amount of time to learn.
- Learning the course – We back-chain this by doing restrained recalls with the dog, with you running away from the dog, starting with the ‘last’ jump coming back. The restrained recalls accomplish 2 purposes, building drive back to the handler, and teaching them to run the last half of the course as fast a possible. This is especially necessary for a dog who has huge ball drive. We don’t want him/her to slow down coming back from the box just because he/she got what he/she wanted (the ball) at the box.
- Passing – This is taken very slowly. We teach the dogs to pass each other on the flat at full speed. We start with opposing recalls and work our way up to true passing in the lane. In fact, in most cases you’ll never get to that point while taking the class.
Things you can do to prepare for your class:
For anyone who has not attended flyball class yet, the first thing we do is determine which direction the dog turns. This is easiest to determine if your dog spins before they lay down or potty – if this is the case, note which direction they spin. You may be surprised to learn that it’s usually (if not always) the same way!
Otherwise, the easiest way to find this out is to put the dog on a sit between your legs, and toss a ball (or toy) about 4-5 ft in front of the dog and send the dog to get it. Then watch which direction the dog turns when he/she comes back to you. Do this about 5 times, and whatever direction your pup turns the majority of the time is the direction we teach for box turns.
If your dog has a favorite toy, bring it to class with you. It really helps for building drive to reward them with that toy. If not, treats or a tennis ball will work.