In an effort to help reduce injury and increase longevity for new flyball careers, the minimum racing age has been raised to 18 months.
Proposed and voted on at the 2020 Australian Flyball Association (AFA) Annual General Meeting, the new rule will now see the minimum racing and competition age for dogs increase from 12 months to 18 months old.
109 voting members were present at the virtual AGM (as per the attendance sheets), with 85 attendees voting yes to carry the motion, 21 votes for no and 3 abstaining – total of 106 voting members. Ballot obtained an 80% majority and the motion was accordingly passed. AFA President Richard Mellon confirmed that the new rule for start of racing would apply effective from competitions held after 17th October 2020, with an exemption for dogs that had already raced before the nominated date. The new minimum age does not apply to dogs partaking in training in the ring during competitions, or partaking in demonstration or training events.
Why the change?
Dogs shouldn’t be asked to participate in extreme or competitive situations until they’re at least 15-18 months old (or older for giant/slow-maturing breeds). This is because puppy growth plates aren’t closed for most dogs until at least 12 months of age and jumping on open growth plates can cause long term damage. Additionally, young dogs don’t have the benefit of muscle to cushion the impact of a jump or swimmer’s turn, as adult dogs have. The repetitious nature of Flyball training and competing can have disastrous long-term effects on dogs that are simply still growing. Waiting for dogs to be mature and physically ready can help prevent injury, as well as help ensure your dog has a wonderful and long Flyball career.
The Norwest Thunderdogs would like to acknowledge the efforts of Jess Mellon (Norwest Thunderdogs) and Shell Gurney (Southern Cross Flyball) for their efforts and research into this proposal.