Fun Fast Teamwork

Doberman TurningFlyball is essentially a relay race. Two dog teams race each other by running down a 51-foot long course over four hurdles to a special box. The box is spring loaded with a tennis ball. On the front of the box is a trigger plate the dog uses to trigger the device to fire the tennis ball up in the air. Well trained dogs usually catch this ball immediately on its way up as they turn around to run back down the course, once again over the four hurdles, and back to the finish line where upon the next dog bursts off to do the same.

The hurdles are placed at a height 4 inches below the shortest dog’s height on the team. The dog’s height is measured from the ground up to the haunches. This little rule makes it handy to have a small non-Doberman on your team.

The two teams race each other but are also earning points, one point for each dog if the team runs the course in under 32 seconds.  If their time is under 28 seconds, each dog gets five points, under 24 seconds and each dog gets a whopping 25 points. These points are recorded in the North American Flyball Associations (NAFA) data base. A dog accumulating many of these points can then earn the following titles and awards:


20 Flyball Dog (FD)
100 Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX)
500 Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh)
1000 Flyball Dog Champion-Silver FDCh-S
2500 Flyabll Dog Champion-Gold
5000 Flyball Master (FM)
10,000 Flyball Master Excellent (FMX)
15,000 Flyball Master Champion (FMCh)
20,000 ONYX (name of the first dog to reach 20,000)
30,000 Flyball Grand Champion (FGDCh-30)
40,000 Commemorative Pin and Plaque
50,000-90,000 Commemorative Pin and Plate for 40k Plaque
100,000 Hobbes Award

Team sports like Flyball are a great opportunity for Dobermans and Doberman owners. Flyball is a friendly experience for both and a whole lot of fun. Getting started is simple and inexpensive. The first thing to do is to watch a tournament. You can find one near you at the NAFA Tournament List. At a tournament you can find like-minded dog owners, training resources, and perhaps even a team to join.

The next step is to start training. A good book outlining the sport and training methods can be handy, such as Flyball Racing: The Dog Sport for Everyone by Lonnie Olsen. Joining a local club with proper equipment and veterans to the sport is almost essential. This also allows you to network with other Flyball enthusiasts and join a team.

The easiest part of the Flyball sport is registering your Competition Racing Number (CRN) so NAFA can keep track of your Doberman's points. This is done easily enough on the NAFA website and costs $15 -Here-. There is also a wealth of other information on their site.