What is Dog Dock Diving?
Few healthy dogs don’t love to play. Some love to fetch, some love to swim, and some love to jump high after a frisbee in the park. If your dog loves all of the above,
Dock Diving may be the activity for you. Dog Sports have long been a source of fun and competition for dogs and their owners. This relatively new canine sport has been growing in popularity with sports dog owners since its introduction in 1997.
So just what is Dock Diving? It’s a competitive event in which dogs jump measured heights or distances from a level dock to retrieve a toy and land in a body of water. The dock must be 35-40 feet long by 8 feet wide and is usually covered with some type of easy-to-grip material such as artificial turf or carpet.
Man-made water sources must be at least 4 feet deep. Natural water sources depth may vary and must be inspected for any harmful submerged objects.
Any breeds of dogs that show an aptitude for this type of activity can be trained as Dock Diving Dogs. There are no lineage or size requirements. Different size and age categories help level the playing field.
There is a minimum age requirement of 6 months for dogs and 7 years for handlers. One handler may have more than one dog in the same heat.
Dock Diving Dogs and their handlers have established rules for competing. For instance, only the dogs may go in the water. Handlers cannot propel or push their dog in, but they may ‘tap’ them to motivate them forward.
No type of edible reward is allowed. Winners of each heat advance and there are rewards for the overall winners. Of course, all the Dock Diving Dogs are winners as they enjoy the activity and attention of their handlers.
These Dog Sports competitions have several categories, each with its own expectations. In long-jump categories, distances are measured from the center edge of the dock to where the base of the dog’s tail breaks the water. This is measured by video frame technology or a team of two judges.
Speed Retrieve, a timed event, employs a toy suspended two feet above the water at the far end of the pool. Timing begins when an indicator light turns green and ends when the dog is able to pull down the toy.
The high jump competition generally begins from a 20-foot mark on the dock. The sports dog runs to the end of the dock and then jumps up to retrieve a toy hung 8 feet from dock end and 4 feet 6 inches high. The toy is then raised progressively higher as the competition continues.
For long jump and speed events, there are two jumps per round and the score is based on the best jump. The categories may vary slightly from venue to venue. The sport has become very professional in human terms, and is just good fun and fulfilling for the dogs.
From the accounts I’ve read, training for the event is not difficult. Dogs with a motivation to run and jump and owners willing to train consistently should have no difficulty.
One of two methods of training is most commonly used, depending on your dog’s personality. If the stay command is difficult for your dog, you could try the ‘place and send’ method.
Take your dog to the end of the dock and let him watch you toss, or place, a toy in the water. Then walk him back to the starting point and send him to fetch the toy.
The other popular training method consists of placing the dog at the starting point, commanding him to stay, and then walking to the end of the dock with the toy.
From where you stand at the dock end call the dog, throwing the toy out just in front of his nose so he can jump after it into the water. Remember that jumps are measured from the center of the dock so dogs need to launch themselves from that point.
Whatever method of training you use, it is an excellent way to interact with your canine friend and ensure he stays active and focused.
Dock Diving is a wonderful partnership sport for you and your pet. Even if you don’t compete, your dog may derive hours of enjoyment from this type of play, and both of you can benefit from companionship and healthful exertion. So get jumping!