Dock Diving Competition

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zoe-picYou can lead a dog to water, but can you make him jump?

Dock diving, also known as dock jumping, is a dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water. Simply put, a dog and handler team work together to jump the greatest distance. The handler throws a retrieval object into a pool or pond and the dog runs down a 40 foot dock that stands 24” above the water and leaps out as far as he can. Dock diving is different from other dog sports. Agility, obedience, hunt tests, etc., are all about control. But dock diving is all about fun!

Dock diving first appeared in 1997 at the Incredible Dog Challenge, an event sponsored and produced by pet food manufacturer, Purina. There are now a growing number of organizations that run dock diving competitions in different countries. Today, there are dock diving events throughout the United States, as well as other countries such as United Kingdom and Australia.

In the United States, “DockDogs” was established in 2000 – its first event was at the ESPN 2000 Great Outdoor Games competition. The Super Retriever Series “Super Dock” was also established in 2000, and created as a qualifier for ESPN Great Outdoor Games along with the Retriever Trials.

Another major player is “Splash Dogs,” which was started in 2003. “Ultimate Air Dogs” was founded in 2005 by former Major League Baseball player Milt Wilcox. In 2008, Ultimate Air Dogs partnered with the United Kennel Club (UKC) which added dock diving as a recognized UKC sport. And in 2009, the UKC also recognized competitions run by Splash Dogs. Dogs can get UKC titles by competing in dock distance or height jumping, just like they can in agility, obedience, weight pulling, and other competitions.

In the United Kingdom, “Dash ‘n’ Splash,” which runs competitions across southern England, was established in 2005, followed by “JettyDogs” in 2007.

Dock diving is a more laid-back pastime that does not have the high profile and histrionics of better-known events like Westminster. The premise behind dock diving is very simple – dogs jump into the water, and they are judged on how well they do! In this competition, a mutt is as welcome, if not more so, than a purebred.

Although many dogs have a natural instinct to retrieve something, not all are inclined to leap off a dock into cold water. Dogs must jump of their own volition – handlers cannot nudge or bump the dog into the water. But, as an incentive to individual competitors, anything that floats can be tossed out over the water. Flying disks, tennis balls, rubber ducks and other retrieval toys called bumpers are the more common choices.

There are 3 different disciplines in dog diving. In the “Big Air” event, the dogs’ jumps are measured for distance. Lanky, athletic dogs tend to gravitate toward the “Extreme Vertical,” in which the competitors jump to snatch a dog toy suspended eight feet over the pool. And the “Speed Retrieve” tests just how fast a dog can swim when fetching a thrown object into the water. A dog can enter all three dog diving events and compete for the “Iron Dog” title – a distinction of all-around athleticism.


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