Flyball popularity growing, dogs compete in Milwaukee

Welcome to canine paradise, where it's full-speed and high-octane fun all the time. 

This is flyball at the Milwaukee Dog Training Club

"It's a team sport," said Mari Pavleje, vice president of the Milwaukee Dog Training Club. "Teams of four dogs on each team compete. It's almost like a relay race."  

Flyball requires each dog to clear four hurdles. Then, they trigger a box that releases a ball. 

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"Dog number one takes off, goes down, gets the ball and comes back," said Pavleje. "Dog number two cannot cross the start line until dog number one is finished. That goes all that way for all four dogs. They have to do it correctly."

In tournaments, dogs go nose-to-nose with each other – but it's not all about speed.

Flyball at the Milwaukee Dog Training Club

"There's a lot of skill," said Pavleje. "You can't teach that as one thing, it's all pieces. We were doing runbacks. One of the things you have to teach the dog to do is jump over four jumps. For some dogs, that's really difficult."

Then, there's the box work. It's an important component to master. 

"We don't even use a ball at first," said Pavleje. "We don't even use a box. We use a board, so a dog can hit it. It's a lot of different skills."

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If you're wondering: "Does my dog qualify for flyball?" Here's your answer.

"Any dog that's fast," said Pavleje. "Border Collies, those are what you usually see, but any breed can do it. You have to have an agile dog. You have to have a thin dog, a dog in good shape."

These canines of all ages and breeds are learning the ropes in flyball, and the sport's popularity is soaring. There are over 700 registered clubs and more than 16,000 registered dogs throughout North America, Europe and Australia. 

"We do it because we like it," said Pavleje. "It's a competitive sport. There's not a lot of dog team sports. This is a team, so we go as a group."

In flyball, there's no prize money awarded in tournaments. Instead, it's all about sharing the love with man's best friends. 

"We enjoy being around each other and enjoy being around dogs," said Pavleje.

For more information on how your dog can join flyball at the Milwaukee Dog Training Club, visit the club's website.