Dock diving, also known as dock jumping, is a sport that involves a dog jumping from the end of a dock into a body of water to retrieve a toy. Each jump is measured and the longest jump wins the competition. There are several organizations that sanction competitions, including the Super Retriever Series Super Dock, Splash Dogs, and Ultimate Air Dogs.
The sport of dock jumping debuted in 1997 at the Incredible Dog Challenge event, sponsored by Purina. In 2000, DockDogs was established and held its first event at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games that same year. From there, the diving craze took off and in the next few years several more organizations were formed including Ultimate Air Dogs in 2005. In 2008 the United Kennel Club (UKC) added it as a recognized UKC sport.
The concept of dock diving is really quite simple and competition rules are pretty standard. The dock itself must be 35 to 40 ft. long and 8 ft. wide and stand about 2 ft. above the water surface. Any body of water may be used provided it is at least 4 ft. deep. The dock is usually covered with Astroturf, carpet or rubber matting to ensure good traction. Handlers may use as much of the dock as they choose and can start their dog from anywhere on the dock.
Though there are some minor variations from one organization to another, distance in dock jumping is generally measured from the lateral midpoint of the end of the dock to the point where the base of the dog's tail (the spot where it joins the body) makes contact with the water. Distance is usually measured with digital equipment but it can also be done manually.
Dock diving competitions are usually separated into several divisions, based on jump length. Divisions usually include Novice, Junior, Senior, Master and Ultimate or Elite. There may be additional divisions for small dogs (called "lap dog") and dogs 8 years or older ("veteran"). Dogs of any breed can compete, provided they have no problem with jumping into water.
There are two basic techniques used for dock jumping: "place and send" and "chase". They vary according to the way a dog is released to jump. Place and send is the more commonly used technique as it is easier to master. Here the handler either holds the dog back while throwing the toy or walks the dog to the end of the dock then returns it to the starting point before releasing it to retrieve the toy.
In the chase technique, the dog is placed at the starting position. The handler then walks to the end of the dock, calls the dog and throws the toy just as the dog reaches the end of the dock, causing the dog to chase after it. The goal of this type of dock diving is to increase the jump distance by getting the dog to jump up as well as out, increasing its launch angle. In place and send the jump will be much more lateral or flat.
Dogs and water are always a fun mix and this can be a great variation for both exercise and obedience training. Dock jumping is relatively easy to learn and can bring both you and your furry friend countless hours of enjoyment. Why not give it a try and see what your dog can do? Before you know it, you could be holding your own in competition!