Laurie's Blogs.


Feb 2024

Let’s Talk Flyball!

Laurie Edge-Hughes, BScPT, MAnimSt, CAFCI, CCRT, Cert. Sm. Anim. Acup / Dry Needling


A handful of studies have come forth over the last few years that look at the sport of flyball for dogs.  Flyball is a high-energy, adrenaline-surging, noisy canine sporting event.  As with any sport, this one has the potential for injury.  The following research papers looked into this topic, in chronological order.


Montalbano C, Gamble LJ, Walden K, Rouse J, Mann S, Sack D, Wakshlag LG, Shmalberg JW, Wakshlag JJ. Internet Survey of Participant Demographics and Risk Factors for Injury in Flyball Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2019 Nov 14;6:391. 


This study analyzed survey data from 375 flyball participants.


  • 39% percent of dogs incurred at least one injury with 172 injuries reported. 
  • Injuries to the limbs were common (30.8% affecting forelimbs, 25.6% affecting hindlimbs), with the paw or nail the most frequently reported injured area (19.2%). 
  • A biphasic injury rate with more injuries in younger dogs was observed, and injuries peaked by 6 years of age. 
  • Use of carpal wraps was positively associated with increased injury risk.



Pinto KR, Chicoine AL, Romano LS, Otto SJG. An Internet survey of risk factors for injury in North American dogs competing in flyball. Can Vet J. 2021 Mar;62(3):253-260. 


Complete surveys were obtained from 272 respondents with 589 dogs that compete in the sport of agility.  Responses were reflective of the year prior to completion of the survey.


  • 23.3% of dogs were injured, with 34.1% injured during their career to date. 
  • Common injury sites were paws/digits, back, shoulder, and iliopsoas muscle/groin.
  • Injury in previous years, modified by weight:height ratio, was a significant risk factor for injury.
  • Dogs > 2 y of age had increased risk of injury, as did dogs with best times < 4.0 s. 
  • Canadian dogs had increased risk of injury (30.7% injured) compared to United States dogs (20.1% injured). 
  • This relationship was modified by participation in other sports, which generally reduced risk of injury in Canadian dogs.



Blake SP, Melfi VA, Tabor GF, Wills AP. Injury Risk Factors Associated With Training and Competition in Flyball Dogs. Top Companion Anim Med. 2023 Mar-Jun;53-54:100774. 


An online questionnaire was used to obtain data on dogs that had competed in flyball in the last 5 years but remained injury free, and a second questionnaire obtained data on dogs that had also competed within the last 5 years but sustained an injury.

Data relating to conformation and performance was collected for 581 dogs, with the same data plus information relating to injury collected from an additional 75 injured dogs.


  • Dogs completing a flyball course in less than 4 seconds had the highest level of injury risk
  • There was an association between risk of injury and increasing age, with dogs over 10 years old most likely to be injured during their career in the sport.
  • Dogs using an angle of flyball box of between 45° and 55° had a greater risk of injury, while using an angle between 66° and 75° reduced the risk of injury by 67.2%.
  • Use of carpal bandaging was significantly associated with carpal injuries.



It’s important to know more about this sport and to understand what to expect with these canine athletes.  So… now you know!


Until next time…  Cheers!