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Flying with Flyball: A Guest Post

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Totally Clueless
 
Since we started blogging we’ve found that a whole lot of our favourite bloggers are into Flyball. We hear it is fabulous exercise and a great way to get Fit with Fido, but beyond that? To be honest, we really had just no idea what it was all about. 


Is it just like a big, competitive game of fetch? Do you get to actually fly? (’cause that would be freaking sweet!) We had no clue and apparently the Mama has some sort of silly problem with posting blogs that are just a bunch of made up crap, so we were lucky that we could turn to Patty from Life With Sophie to help us under stand. 
 

Flying at Flyball

 
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Thanks to Kolchak and his mom for giving us a chance to talk about one of our favorite activities, flyball!
 
What in the world is Flyball?? 
 
That is usually the response I get when I tell people that Sophie competes in flyball.
So here is the short to the point version I tell people when they ask:

Flyball is a dog relay race. 
 
The racing lane has a start line, four hurdles spread out over 51 feet and a flyball box. A flyball ring has two of these lanes side by side with racing lights in between. 
 
2 teams compete in head to head racing. There are 4 dogs on each team. The dogs must jump the hurdles, trigger the box, catch a tennis ball and come back over the hurdles so the next dog may go. The incoming dog cannot pass the start line before the returning dog. The first team to send all four dogs with no errors wins that heat.  
 
Whee that is a long spiel!
 
But really it is about so much more than just running in head to head racing. A lot of time and effort goes into training, organizing teams and running. Flyball is a very team-oriented sport which I love. If you find the right team for you, then you are surrounded by people with similar interests and loves of dogs. You will spend lots of time on the road and at tournament sites with your team so you definitely want to be with a group of people you like.

Training 
 
It sounds easy but it really does require a lot of effort on your dog’s part. Recall is key, but also learning to focus in a very very noisy stimulating environment is important too. All our team dogs are trained to run away from us (At least 50 feet, usually more depending on their starting position) to the box, execute a box turn and return to us – all while racing next to another group of dogs. Add to this the fact that dogs waiting their turn are usually barking, as are the dogs outside the ring and you have a noisy environment. Your dog needs to have fantastic recall. 
 
For more on training the individual pieces of flyball (box turn, jumps, passing etc.) check out My Life With Flyball Dogs. She has a series of posts on training that are fantastic!
 

Work It Out with Flyball

 
And since this is of course K9 Camp time, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that flyball is a great work out. Sophie starts 35 feet from the starting line so she runs a minimum of 135ish feet per heat. We ran usually about 20 heats per day. The dogs are racing so this is running at full speed over jumps. 

The handler also gets a workout. Try holding a 68lb lab mix who really really wants to go and you get a complete arm workout. The tug in my hand is Sophie’s reason to run back so the faster and further I move from, the faster Sophie returns from the box. So I, the handler get some running exercise too.
For more information on Flyball and flyball clubs check out the sites of the 2 governing bodies in the U.S.:

NAFA:

http://www.flyball.org/U-Fli:

http://www.u-fli.com/
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OK, I don’t know about you, but I think Flyball sounds fabulous! I wonder if the Mama can find a flyball club here in Vancouver that I can play with? Hey Mama? Get on that. Like PDQ. 


Thank You so Much to Patty & Sophie for sharing Flyball with us!

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