Dog Care 101 Tip #185: Dog Sports – Dock Jumping

Sometimes called the easiest of all Dog Sports, Dock Jumping is certainly an entertaining event to watch and be involved with. Not only is this Dog Sport easy and fun, but it’s also open to any dog willing to take a jump off a short pier. outlines the great world of Dock Jumping in today’s Dog Care 101 spotlight on Dog Sports!

What is Dock Jumping?
Also called Dock Diving, this dog sport is a competition of jump distance and jump height off of a dock into a body of water. This sport is governed by a few different organizations including Dock Dogs, SplashDogs and Ultimate Air Dogs, who partners through the United Kennel Club. For these clubs, there are two basic kinds of play: Long Distance Jumping and Vertical Height Jumping.

This sport really doesn’t have one particular point of origin. However, it can be pretty well guessed. Most likely a couple of guys were with their loyal companions for a romp down by the lake. One guy probably said, “Hey, Watch this!” and threw a tennis ball off the dock, into the water and his dog soared far through the air after his favorite toy. Voila! Dock Jumping was born.

Even though there is not a definitive account of who thought of Dock Jumping or where it originated, it is known that in 1997 Dock Jumping first appeared in Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge. Since then, many clubs have sprung up and some dog’s can earn titles in the UKC for their competitions. Dock Jumping competitions are now in the UK and Australia.

How It Works
Dock Jumping is made up of a few key, but simple, components.

Dock Jumping really only requires 5 key pieces of equipment.

  • A Team: You & Your Dog
  • Dock: The dock in most competitions is usually 35 to 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 2 feet from the water’s surface. Artificial turf, rubber or carpet covers the dock so the dog can get traction while running.
  • Body of Water: Any body of water that is at least 4 feet deep and clear of obstructions is okay to use.
  • Toy: Make sure the object thrown is something your dog really likes and floats.
  • Excitement: Both you and your dog have to be excited about Dock Jumping, especially your dog! It take serious excitement, passion and trust for a dog to jump off of a platform into water!

Distance Jumping
There are two ways in by which you can release your dog to retrieve the toy for Distance Jumping.

Place & Send:
This method is where the handler walks the dog to the end of the dock, or holds the dog back while throwing the toy into the water. The handler then walks the dog back to the starting position, places the dog and the releases or sends the dog to fetch the toy. This technique is good for dogs not trained to sit or wait on the dock.

This is the approach where a dog must sit and wait at it’s starting position at the back of the dock. The handler then walks to the far end of the dock with the toy, calls the dog and throws the toy in the water. The trick is to keep the toy just in front of the dog’s nose so they must chase it into the water. This technique is thought to help the dog reach it’s optimum distance by having the dog jump up instead of just out or flat. This method is also more difficult in training, but if your dog has a strong drive for the toy, training is a little easier.

To learn more about training your dog for Dock Jumping, read this great and easy How-To Guide.

Play is done in a round-robin format, where each team has two jumps. The jump that measures the longest is the score for that competition. A jump is official when the toy leaves the handler’s hand. In most organizations, the distance measurement for Distance Jumping is determined by where the dog’s tail (where the tail meets the body) breaks the water’s surface. The start of the measurement begins at the mid point at the edge of the dock, not from where the dog launches.

Judging is usually done by digital video freeze frame technology, but can sometimes be measured manually by judges.

Vertical Jumping
This is a newer spin on Dock Jumping, and instead of distance measurement, dogs are challenged by jump height. Vertical Jumping was started as a training exercise for dogs to get more distance out of dogs. Instead, it became a new, exciting addition to Dock Jumping.

Beginning play for Vertical Jumping is similar to Distance. However, when the dog jumps off the dock, they are reaching for a fixed point, which is stationary, extending arm that dangles a bumper at 8 feet above the water. Each dog competing must bring the bumper down by knocking or catching. Every successful dog goes to the next round where the bumper is raised two inches. This play progresses until there is one dog standing, or soaring.

Dock Jumping, both Distance and Vertical, are great dog sports. Its many positives include being inexpensive, safe, fun, exciting and any dog can play!

To read about more fun and exciting Dog Sports, check out the BBS spotlights on Obedience Trials, Flyball, Bikejoring and Agility! Next week the Healthy Dog Blog will talk about Lure Coursing! Is your dog up to the task? Tell us your dog’s favorite sport in the comments section below! 

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