Flyball is a sport that many dogs compete in, it’s a team sport where the dogs rush over a set of four jumps, trigger a spring-loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball and they catch it mid-air and run back with it to the start.
The next dog goes over the same course once the first dog has returned four balls.
It’s a great high-energy game that most whippets enjoy and are incredibly good at due to their speed!
In this post we’re going to go through everything you need to know about whippet flyball, so stick around to find out more…
What Exactly Is Flyball?
Flyball is a game that’s like a cross between racing and catching a ball.
The ‘fly’ part of the name comes from the fact that the dogs have to jump over four hurdles, or fly over them (hence flyball) to trigger a box that releases tennis balls for them to catch.
They then race back with those balls and their handlers collects them to score a point.
This is repeated over and over again until there are no tennis balls left or the time runs out, with whoever has the most points at the end winning.
It’s a game that has been played for years and one that has gained in popularity, with it now being an event at many dog shows.
It’s also become a sport all on its own, known as ‘flyball racing’ or flyball competition.
There are currently competitions held in countries all over the world, with the main one being the North American Flyball Association (or NAFA).
Are Whippets Good At Flyball?
Due to the whippet’s small, lightweight frame and lightning-fast speed, they make excellent flyball dogs.
Whippets aren’t the only dogs to be successful in flyball, other breeds such as border collies and Jack Russells have also found success.
However, due to the whippet’s speed, a lot of people believe that they are one of the best animals for engaging in this type of race against time.
In fact, flyball is one of the best ways to improve your dog’s speed, and the dogs enjoy it too.
Whippets are one of the best dog breeds for flyball, they’re extremely fast and agile.
While they’re not as strong as larger dogs, they make up for this with their speed and endurance.
Their small size also makes the flyball jumps easier to clear than other breeds such as border collies who often jump onto the spring-loaded boxes.
How Old Should A Whippet Be To Play Flyball?
The age at which your whippet can start flyball depends on the dog.
However, it’s usually around 18 months old if they are healthy and not to mention pure breeds like whippets because this breed ages quickly.
The best time to get your whippet started in flyball would be at 6 to 12 months of age, that way they’ll still have time to adapt and learn before they get older.
What Kind of Training is Needed for Flyball?
Flyball training will require a lot of work and discipline because it’s not like basic obedience where you can make your dog heel and stay and sit and do other things.
Once the dogs spill out onto the course, there’s no stopping them. You have to stay ahead of them and anticipate where they will be going which is not a walk in the park.
Not only do you have to teach your dog all this stuff, but there’s also a lot of training on your part as well before you step up to teaching your dog everything.
Some practice will be involved too with other teams or even with your family since you’ll need to get everyone on the same page.
Flyball training will consist of using a clicker to mark when your dog completes an action you ask of them.
For example, if you want your dog to jump on the flyball box, you will reward them with a treat and say “good” when they do it right.
These positive reinforcements really help speed up training.
You’ll need to get everyone involved in the training as well.
Even if you teach your dog to jump on the flyball box yourself, it is a good idea to have your family members help with the fetching of balls and paddles since everyone will need to know how to use them.
Once a routine has been established then you’ll only be working with one ball per dog until they complete the course flawlessly.
Your whippet will also need to have good recall training as well and be able to run straight to you when called.
This is even more important for flyball because if your dog doesn’t come when you call, they will get tangled up in the other dogs’ lines and may cause a crash or injury that way.
Your whippet should also be comfortable around people and especially young children, this is because spectators have a tendency to swarm the flyball box when they see dogs running in it.
Another important factor is that your whippet should not be a chaser, I know this sounds strange but if your dog likes to chase other animals then they may apply ‘prey drive’ when they see the ball and try to catch it instead.
There is lots of training involved for your dog before they are ready to compete, this is because the exercises that your whippet will be doing during flyball are not instinctive.
Is Flyball Good For Whippets?
Flyball is a game that is incredibly good for your whippet, it’s super high pace and is physically demanding for your whippet.
This means they’ll need to be in great physical shape and have the endurance and speed to outrun dogs that are much bigger than them.
It’s a competitive sport that your whippet will love to play, but you’ll need to make sure they are getting enough physical activity outside of flyball too.
How To Tell If Your Whippet Will Be Good At Flyball
So how do you tell if your whippet will be good at flyball?
Well, if you’ve got a whippet that loves to run and has a good deal of energy, then they’re going to be perfect for flyball.
It’s not all about speed though, your whippet will also need to have some incredible agility as well as being able to think quickly.
Most dogs naturally want to please their owners, so it won’t be hard to train your whippet either.
But if you’ve got a really lazy whippet or one that doesn’t like running, then flyball might not be for them.
Whippets are one of the best breeds for flyball due to their agility and speed, so once you start playing this game with your whippet and doing practice runs they will learn to love it.
A whippet that is good at flyball is one that is fast, agile, and fun to watch.
If you suspect your whippet may be good at flyball, why not give it a try?
There’s nothing to lose and you’ll only end up giving your whippet lots of exercise which they love anyway.
It’s worth keeping in mind that whippet flyball is a high-intensity game, so if you are obese or unhealthy in any way it may be advisable for you to consult your doctor first.
Also, consider the physical limitations of your pup. If your whippet has any orthopedic problems then flyball may not be the best idea.
A whippet that is going to be good at flyball needs to be fed a high-quality, nutritious diet with plenty of protein and nutrients.
This is because they need to have a lot of energy in order to run so faster than the other dogs.
It’s important to also keep in mind that your whippet needs to be in good shape, especially when you consider that the dogs will be running side by side and hitting each other pretty hard. If your whippet is obese it will not make for a very fast flyballer!
As a whole, whippet flyball is a superb sport to get your whippet into. It’s incredibly fitness for them and will keep them in peak condition.
It’s also a great chance for you to bond with your whippet, although it can be hard work at times.
In conclusion then, if there is adequate space outside and you feel that flyball would suit your whippet then get them into this fantastic sport!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, feel free to share it with other whippet lovers who may find it of value.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!