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Old 05-29-2012, 09:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Flyball -dog drives and getting started

Hi!

I've been interested in flyball for a while, and it looks like a really fun sport! I was wondering what types of drives a dog should have to do well. Minnie has a GREAT ball drive - she would probably drop from exhaustion if I didn't stop throwing the ball when she gets tired. She doesn't really like to tug, though, which I see a lot of people using the tug as the reward at the end of a run.

Tanner loves to tug, but he is not socially stable and I don't think that the flyball environment would be a good fit for him.

Is flyball tough on the dog's joints? I see that some dogs hit the box pretty hard.

Where's a good place to get started? We live in IL, about an hour south of Chicago. I'm willing to drive, but I'd like to keep it under 2 hours.

Thanks all!
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ball drive can be good or bad. It's good to have a dog that is comfortable retrieving and likes having a ball in his mouth. But TOO much drive for tennis balls in particular can be something to overcome. I had this phase with Pan. We had to train him that the tennis ball is not the reward, it is neutral. Otherwise you might get a dog that drives really fast into the box but returns slower and/or a dog that is always running around trying to bite loose tennis balls (that was Pan!).

Tug is not necessary. I think at least one third of the dogs I see on my own team and at tournaments are getting rewarded with food, or just praise, or some silly little game but not a tug. For me the tug is easier because it gives my dogs something to target as they come back (rather than going after a loose ball or another dog).

Any sport can be tough on the dog. It's important to have a lean, healthy dog. With large dogs like GSDs, training a correct box turn is absolutely critical. Poor technique can damage the dog's shoulders.

I'm pretty sure there are at least a half a dozen teams in the Chicago/Northern IL area. Contact U-Fli and NAFA, those are the two main flyball organizations.
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Here's the NAFA page to find a club: North American Flyball Association | About Flyball

Illinois is in Region 4, which also includes Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Here's the U-Fli website: The Ultimate Dogsport for Family and Fun: United Flyball League International :: The United Flyball League Inc. is an organization formed to promote and better the sport of Flyball.

We do mostly NAFA tournaments in my club, so I don't know much about U-Fli.

Tugging is generally preferred, but some people reward with food, or a frisbee, or even play with the ball the dog brings back by picking it up and tossing it to them a couple of times when they drop it. As Lies said, dogs that are TOO into tennis balls can sometimes be a problem. Halo runs back with the ball faster than she does to the box, but I had some trouble getting her to drop the tennis ball for a tug. She would do it for an Orbee ball on a rope, so I custom made her an Orbee ball tug:



We spend a LOT of practice time working on box turns. Ideally the dog hits the box with all four feet, so the impact is absorbed evenly, rather than just on the shoulders. It's a really fun sport!
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The "Really into their people" drive
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow, thanks for all of the great info!!!
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Old 05-30-2012, 02:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I found a great club and started taking classes with them at the end of July 2011. We signed up for another 6 weeks after that class ended and were invited to join them at practices when that class ended. We went to our first practice at the end of December and became official club members on 3/31/12. Halo's first tournament was the following weekend, and she had her second tournament last weekend: Halo von Rokanhaus-FDCh (Flyball Dog Champion)

Good luck in finding a classes or a club! It really is tons of fun, especially with a dog who is into it.
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