What is flyball for dogs? All your flyball questions answered

What is flyball for dogs? All your flyball questions answered

Fast-paced and exciting—2 teams of 4 dogs go head to head in a relay race to retrieve a ball. Get answers to all your flyball FAQs and start competing with your dog!

Antinol Team

By Antinol Team

Does your dog love a ball, obsessively play fetch, or really need to burn off some energy and keep their brain busy? Head to your local Flyball club and get those paws moving! Here is the flyball 101—our rundown of your flyball FAQ. 

Flyball FAQs

  • What is flyball?
  • What flyball equipment do you need?
  • What are the rules of flyball?
  • How does a team win at flyball?
  • How is flyball equipment set up?
  • What makes a good flyball dog?
  • Can any dog do flyball?
  • How do I train my dog for flyball?
  • Where can I learn flyball with my dog?

What is Flyball?

Flyball is a fast-paced, unique, inclusive team relay race. Two teams of 4 dogs go face-to-face in a game of speed, agility and accuracy. Dogs race down a line of hurdles to a box which releases a ball to catch—before they speed back to their handler.

Collie jumping flyball hurdle

What flyball equipment do you need?

Flyball doesn't need a lot of equipment, and your training club will provide most of it, but if you plan to practice at home, you'll need...

  • 4 hurdle jumps (8 if you're racing against another team)
  • A flyball box (1 per team)
  • Lots of balls! 
  • A timer 
  • Lots of space on a non-slip, safe surface.

What are the rules of flyball?

2 racing lanes are set up, side by side, with 4 hurdles each. Dogs take turns to race over the hurdles to the box, release and catch the ball and race back. 

  • Only one dog per team runs at a time.
  • Dogs touch the spring-loaded box to release and catch a ball. If they miss the ball, they must run again, after the rest of the team.
  • If a dog misses a hurdle, they must run again after the rest of their team. 
  • Each dog may run as the previous dog's nose crosses the finish line. 

How does a team win at flyball?

The winning flyball team is the fastest team to have all 4 dogs across the finish line error-free. If any dog misses or drops the ball or misses a hurdle, they must run again until all 4 dogs are successful. 

How is flyball equipment set up?

Measurements vary slightly between organizations, but as a rule of thumb, 4 hurdles are set out, roughly 10 ft apart. The first hurdle is 6 ft from the starting line, and the final hurdle is 15ft from the flyball box. 

Hurdles are set at 5 inches lower than the shoulder height of the smallest dog in the team. The minimum hurdle height is 7 inches tall, and the maximum height is 14 inches. 

Boxes are loaded with an approved ball. In many cases, this is similar to a tennis ball but may vary in size depending on the size of the dogs running. 

Starting lights and laser timers are used in flyball competitions, but in friendly competitions and training, it's more likely to be a manual timer. 

What makes a good flyball dog?

Brown dog jumping flyball hurdleAll kinds of dogs can be good flyball dogs, but speed, agility and accuracy are great skills. 

Energetic dogs and those who love a tennis ball are fab flyball dogs. They need to have superb recall and be sociable and happy enough to run past other dogs. Of course, the fastest dogs are super fit, but you can build up your dog's fitness as you train. 

Can any dog do flyball?

Yes, the great thing about flyball is that it is so inclusive. Any dog can give it a go, from teeny chihuahuas to giant rottweilers. Of course, some breeds, such as border collies, have a more natural affinity for it, but any dog can enjoy the sport. 

How do I train my dog for flyball?

  • Nail your recall. Practice, practice, practice. Flyball competitions are high-energy, noisy places—you need your dog to come back to you no matter what else is happening around them.
  • Fetch! Get your dog excited for a game of fetch, and make sure you teach them to "drop it" too! 
  • Practise over jumps. Throw your ball over hurdles, so they learn to jump them as they fetch it.
  • Touch. Get their paws on a flyball box. They need to learn how to operate it. This is best done in a step-by-step process, with plenty of rewards and praise. 
  • Join a local flyball club or training session to learn the best training techniques and how to use the equipment safely. Flyball collie running with tennis ball

Where can I learn flyball with my dog?

Look for local flyball classes or canine sports clubs. The North American Flyball Association have over 375 active clubs across the United States and Canada. Find your nearest flyball club here. 

Once you and your dog have honed your flyball skills, why not try another canine sport? Perhaps agility or dock diving. Read the canine sports 101 here.

Did you Antinol is the official joint partner of The United States Dog Agility Association and The North American Diving Dogs?

Save an extra 5% off your Antinol order with our Antinol Affiliate Partner discount.

Related stories

View all