Dock Diving--Wet Competitive Fun for Your Dog
Is your dog a 'water baby'? Does he head for the nearest lake or pool every chance he gets? If you're looking for a fun sport for you and your CBF, dock diving might be just the thing.
What Is It?
Dock diving, also known as dock jumping, is a competitive sport in which dogs jump off a dock into a body of water and are judged by the distance or height of their jump. Any dog can compete, but Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers seem to excel at this sport--probably because the dogs are usually enticed into jumping by throwing a 'training dummy' (a toy used to train dogs to fetch birds from water) into the water.
Dock-diving first appeared in the late 1990s at the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. The first U.S. team, DockDogs, made its first appearance in 2000 at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, and was soon followed by other groups such as SplashDogs and Ultimate Air Dogs, which is run by former Detroit Tiger Milt Wilcox. There are now organizations holding competitions in several countries around the world. The United Kennel Club (UKC) has recognized dock-diving as a legitimate sport since 2008; dogs can win titles for height or distance. Dock-diving is also popular in Great Britain. The group known as Dash 'n Splash was formed in 2005, and JettyDogs (UK version of DockDogs) was formed in 2007.
Just Add Water...
The equipment needed for dock-diving is pretty simple...a body of water, a dock or platform, and a dog. It doesn't get much more complicated than that, but there are some rules and regulations. For one thing, the dogs must be at least six months old, since younger puppies' bones may be harmed by the repeated impact of the water. Dogs of all sizes are welcome to compete, and are grouped into divisions according to the sanctioning organization. These are usually designated by length or height of jump, but may also be according to size or age of the dog. For example, all three groups (Ultimate Air Dogs, Splash Dogs, and Dock Dogs) have a 'novice' group, for dogs who jump 9'11" or less (although Splash Dogs calls this the 'splash' level), and the distances increase for each group: Junior, Senior, Master (Splash Dogs calls this level 'Pro'), with the limit of 22'11" for Splash Dogs and Dock Dogs, and 22'5" for Ultimate Air Dogs, for this category. There are even higher groupings: 'Ultimate' (over 22'6" for Ultimate Air Dogs); 'Extreme' (over 23' for Splash Dogs); and 'Elite' (23' to 24'11" for Dock Dogs). Dock Dogs adds one more category: 'Super Elite' (over 25'). And you thought dogs couldn't fly...Even the littlest dogs have their own division, 'lap dogs', and dogs eight years and older are known as 'veterans'.
The dock is 35 to 40 feet long and about 8 feet wide and is usually abut 2 feet above the water's surface. It is covered with a non-slip material, such as indoor-outdoor carpet, astroturf, or rubber matting--anything that will retain traction when wet. Any body of water can be used as long as it's at least 4 feet deep--and if it's a pool, it should be at least 30 feet long. The dogs are brought up onto the dock one at a time, and the handler is permitted to 'start' the dog from any point on the dock. The handler then gets the dog to run to the end of the dock and leap off to catch the toy or training dummy that the handler throws into the water. Most organizations measure jump distance from the end of the dock to the point where the base of the jumper's tail hits the water. (Purina's Incredible Diving Dog competition measures distance from the point the dog's nose is at when his body hits the water.) There are two techniques for dock-diving: 'Place and Send' places the dog at the starting position on the dock while the toy or 'dummy' is thrown into the water. The dog is then 'sent' into the water to fetch it. The other technique is known as 'Chase' and the dog is placed in a sit-stay at the starting point on the dock. The handler goes to the end of the dock with the toy and calls the dog, who is released (hopefully, with lots of enthusiasm and speed). The handler throws the toy into the water as the dog leaves the end of the dock, so the toy is never far from the dog's nose. The dog then retrieves the toy. Each team takes two jumps within a round-robin format, and the scoring is based on the longer of the two jumps.
Think you and your pup might enjoy this wet 'n wild sport? Check out local organizations of dog enthusiasts, such as kennel clubs. If there isn't a dock-diving group in your area, you might find one by networking with other dog lovers--or you can contact DockDogs (www.dockdogs.com); Splash Dogs (www.splashdogs.com); Ultimate Air Dogs (www.ultimateairdogs.net); or, if you're in the U.K., contact JettyDogs (www.jettydogs.co.uk). Also ask about training facilities in your area. Although this seems like a sport that would appeal only to water-loving dogs like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, any dog can compete. If our dog can be trained to swim and chase a toy, he can participate.
You and your CBF are ready to leave the competition 'all wet'!! Check out our other pages for more doggie fun and info!
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