Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog on the team must jump over four jumps, retrieve a ball by triggering the box and then return over the jumps and past the start/finish line. Flyball is indiscriminate of the breed or size of the dog, with the jumps set at 5 inches below the shoulder height of the smallest dog on the team.
First seen in the 1970s, the sport is believed to have been created by Herbert Wagner for his ball crazy dog. It quickly evolved, recieving major publicity on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. The first formal competition was held in 1981, with the North American Flyball Association being founded a few years later in 1984. Flyball first appeared in Australia in 1982, though the first competition wasn't held here until 1996.
The points and title system in Flyball are simple - each dog on the team must "run clean" for the dogs to recieve one title point each. They recieve an additional point if they also win the heat. In order for a team to “run clean”, each dog must jump the 4 jumps up to the flyball box, trigger the flyball box and bring the ball back over all 4 jumps and through the start gate. If the dog drops the ball at any time while completeing the four jumps back, it must pick the ball up, and complete the remaining jumps in order to have run cleanly. If the dog travels back over the start line without completeing the run successfully, it has not run cleanly and none of the dogs on the team will recieve any title points. The tip of the dog’s nose must pass through the start gates before the tip of the next dog’s nose passes the start. An early pass means the team has failed to run cleanly, even if that dog completes the rest of the flyball run successfully. Teams which “false start” (have the start dog’s nose pass through the starting gates before the starting lights have gone green) have another opportunity to run cleanly, but each team is only allowed one false start per heat or they are not consdiered to have run cleanly as the start dog must re-run behind the 4th dog.
For a dog to earn a title, it must accrew points. These titles (and the number of points needed) are:
FD – Flyball Dog requires 5 points.
FDX – Flyball Dog Excellent requires 20 points.
FDCh – Flyball Dog Champion requires 50 points.
AFCh – Australian Flyball Champion requires 150 points.
FM – Flyball Master requires 400 points.
FMX – Flyball Master Excellent requires 700 points.
FMCh – Flyball Master Champion requires 1000 points.
ONYX - Onyx requires 1300 points.
FDGCh – Flyball Dog Grand Champion requires 2000 points.
JEDDAH – Jeddah requires 3000 points.
EZRI - Ezri requires 4000 title points.
Note: Only the highest flyball title awarded to the dog will be used after the name of the dog. For example, if the dog gains both its FDX and FDCh titles, only FDCh will appear at the end of their name. In order for the ANKC/state canine controls to recognise flyball titles, the dog must have gained the title points before the 1st July 2012. Any title points gained after this time are only recognised by the Australian Flyball Association.