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The only thing more exciting than watching a dog chase after a tennis ball is watching multiple dogs race against each to bring a ball through an obstacle course in a relay race. Eight Flyball teams gathered over two days, February 25 and 26, at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida for the ultimate challenge.
In this bracket-style competition, each team went head to head until a final race determined the winner. You can catch all the action and see how they performed.
How to Watch the AKC Flyball Dog Challenge
You can watch the AKC Flyball Dog Challenge, presented by Tractor Supply Company, on Saturday, March 25 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 on your TV or by signing in on any device.
But before watching, you may want to understand the basics of the action-packed relay sport—because things move quickly!
How Does Flyball Work?
Two four-dog teams line up to race each other on a course that includes four hurdles and one springloaded box for each team. As the last light on the set turns green, the first dog on each team races down the lane over each hurdle toward the springloaded box, triggering the box with their paw to release a ball which they catch at lightning speed. Then, banking off the box, the dogs race back over the jumps and return to their handler. The dogs then go relay-style, passing nose-to-nose at the start/finish line until all four dogs have successfully completed the course with the fastest team winning the heat.
This year will be the inaugural Flyball run-off races, in which two dogs compete head to head in a single race.
What Dogs Can Compete in Flyball?
All dogs, including mixed breeds, are eligible to compete in Flyball as long as they are 15 months or older.
What Makes a Flyball Team?
Four dogs and four human handlers make up a Flyball team. In addition, there are one human boxloader and two dog/handler backups.
How Do You Win?
The first team to have all four dogs cross the finish line without errors wins the heat. The team to win the most heats in a race (for example, 3 of 5) wins.
Want to Get Started in Flyball?
If seeing Flyball on TV has gotten you excited about participating with your own dog, getting started is easier than you think. The best way is to find a club near you that offers classes. Because Flyball is a team sport, you’re going to want to find a team that works for both you and your dog.
If you’re not ready to go to a class, many clubs host online classes and seminars, and you can try practicing jumps with at-home equipment.
While you’re searching for Flyball clubs in your state, you can also read the NAFA Rulebook to familiarize yourself with the sport.
Don’t think Flyball is for you? Don’t worry! There are many dog sports that are suitable for dogs of all ages and abilities.