Flyball and the Brittany
Brief description of Flyball
Flyball is a fast and exciting team event where four dogs take turns in a relay type race against an opposing team along identical straight courses of four hurdles to catch a ball from the box and return without dropping the ball and in the fastest time. A team normally comprises four dogs and handlers plus two reserves and a ball-loader for the box. Fastest faultless team wins the heat.
The height of the teams’ jumps is governed by the height of the smallest dog in the team and will be between 7 and 14 inches. The only Brittany we know would jump at 12 inches unless there are smaller dogs in the team. Typically there will be six teams in a division based on their qualifying time. Teams run a race of up to five heats against each team in their division so a dog running in every race might be in 15 and up to 25 heats during the day.
Brittanys capabilities for Flyball
Can Brittanys successfully compete in Flyball? Apparently so, it is hardly surprising as any breed which is keen to work, accepts leadership and enjoys a game can be trained. There are only two requirements: the dog should be fit and healthy, and must not be aggressive to other dogs or people. Any training is an incremental process where the dog’s strengths and weaknesses’ are modified. In the case of the Brittany the hunting instinct needs to be restrained otherwise there will be a tendency to range around the ring or chase the opponent’s dog. (Although the racing ring is enclosed by barrier netting there is no barrier between the two opponents’ racing lanes) The pointing instinct is generally not a problem unless the dog is going to point at the tennis ball! The instinct we want to accentuate is the retrieve where the dog will dash down the course in a straight line over the jumps, collect the ball and bring it back to the handler quickly.
A reality check
As far as we know there are very few Brittanys competing in Flyball this may be because there are not that many compared with other breeds, but more likely because Brittanys were not classified by the British Flyball Association until 2013, or perhaps because Brittanys have better things to do than chase balls! While all breeds are eligible to compete it is true that collies and crosses are accepted to be most suited.
For details of Flyball competitions venues dates and entry fees, training clubs, and the rules and regulations go to the British Flyball Association website.
For training clubs near you expand the map and click on the nearest flag at https://www.flyball.org.uk/getting-started/find-a-club