How much does it generally cost to get started?
Little to nothing to join a team. Many teams will offer beginner practices for free. Some clubs may charge a club dues, some may charge for a beginner class. No equipment is needed if you join a team. If you wish to start a team, then you need to spend about $500 to buy the box and jumps, or if you are blessed with a handiman (or woman)then under $100 to build your own.
What's a good age to start?
The sooner the better. The main skills you need are a good retrieve and a good recall. Start those as early as 4 weeks old. I started Jack at age 2.5, and Tallulah at 2.
What's a good way to train before actually joining a team or practicing with the box and stuff? (Did that make sense?)
Yes, it made sense! As I said above, recall and retrieve. Restrained recalls, using a tug, are the best way to practice recalls, and restrained retrieves can be practiced both with moving balls and stationary balls. (Restrained means to hold the dog back for a moment to build drive.)
I think what I'm asking is what skills you should hone before throwing your dog in the fray?
The main skill to practice concerning the 'fray' is attention under duress. Take the dog to many places with lots of distractions and play tug, retrieve, recall and attention games on a long line. The more expirience you can give her, the better she will be.
I personally found dog parks (wait before yelling at me!!) provided that in a way. I would take Jack to the outside of the fence, on leash, and work attention. The dogs racing around inside the fence provided great distraction, but my dog was safe from them on the outside of the fence. You may need to start off in the parking lot away from the fence and build up. Running dogs, especially small ones and extra large ones, are my biggest issue with Tallulah.
In practice you will not have a fray, they will set your dog up to be sucessful, and run only one dog at a time. When you are ready they will start adding other dogs.
How do you find a local team? Is there a website?
is NAFA's web site (North American Flyball Association). You can find clubs by region through their site, as well as check out stats on breed, region, team, etc.
When looking at teams, you can see that some are in it for fun, and some are in it to win. There are extremely competitive clubs with 16 second teams (usually border collie heavy, breeding border jacks, etc) then laid back ones with a variety of breeds and slower times. I would suggest if you have a choice to go with the more laid back club. You will get more support and less pressure. If you then wish to be more competitive, you can alwasy switch teams later. I would also meet with the team first before commiting, you spend a lot of time together and if you don't get along with the members or the philosophy it can be very stressful.
Michelle,yes, that is the DOT Corning I am speaking of. I can PM you when I am going to the next practice. I am hoping we may be able to look at Boom Towne as a secondary facility as well, since DOT Corning is rather picky and hard to schedule around.