Calling all water hounds who love to play fetch, we’ve got a sport for you: Dock Diving. All types of dogs can join in on the fun at events around the country.
As the weather warms up and you’re looking for new activities to enjoy with your dog, consider the high-energy dog sport, dock diving! It’s more popular than ever with clubs and events planned all across the country, and you and your pup can choose to compete together or simply get out to the events as spectators.
Dock diving is a fast-paced sport in which dogs of all breeds, sizes, and shapes compete to see who can jump the longest or highest distance into a pool from a dock or raised platform. There are several national dock diving organizations including DockDogs, Splash Dogs, and Ultimate Air. Each is somewhat different, so here’s a look at one in particular – DockDogs, and what you need to know.
Who can compete?
Dogs of almost any age and ability level can participate – even senior and tiny dogs. Still, dogs that love to chase, retrieve and enjoy the water will do best. While dogs with these exact characteristics (think Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Golden retrievers, and Labs) dominated the sport in the early days, you’ll now see dogs of all breeds and sizes competing and having a great time.
What happens at competitions?
Dock Diving comprises three separate events: Big Air, Extreme Vertical and the Speed Retrieve. In Big Air, the most popular event, each dog competes for the longest jump by running down a 40-foot dock into water to retrieve a floatable toy launched by the handler. For the Extreme Vertical, dogs compete to jump the highest and in the Speed Retrieve event, each dog runs to the water, jumps in, and swims to retrieve a toy held on a pole 38 feet past the end of the dock.
Is dock diving something your dog might like?
You never know until you try it! The best way to find out is to take your dog to an event and let him jump during the “open dock” practice time. You can do this even if you’re not in the competition, and there will be people on hand to help you out. You can also look for a local dock diving club to join. These clubs welcome newcomers, and you and your dog can test the waters by attending one of their practice sessions. The last option is to find a dock on a lake, pond, or river to get your dog used to what the sport involves. Once your dog is jumping off the dock, you are ready to compete!
If you and your dog participate in dock diving regularly or have just given it a try, please share your experiences in the Comments section below.
Thank you to JumpingLab on flickr for the photo.
Originally published June 2011; reviewed and updated June 2016.