I took some time out this summer to attend a couple of country fairs – so much good old fashioned fun! At the Comox Valley Fair on August 23, we enjoyed a newfound event for me (an incurable lover of all dogs), and equally fun for anyone who enjoys a good laugh! Dock Dogs, is an innovative young organization that gathers national champions and local dog hero’s and challenges them to launch themselves after a bumper as far as they can into the water The ’official’ winner is the dog that goes the furthest according to markers along the side of the above-ground pool erected at each event, but really everyone’s a winner because there isn’t a dog there who isn’t having the time of its life! Click here to see a Splash video!
Dock jumping first appeared in 1997 at the Incredible Dog Challenge, an event sponsored and produced by pet food manufacturer Purina. There are now a number of organizations that run dock jumping competitions in different countries.
Splash Dogs was started in 2003. Ultimate Air Dogs was founded in 2005, In 2008, UAD partnered with the United Kennel Club which added dock jumping as a recognized UKC sport Dogs can get UKC titles by competing in dock distance or height jumping like they can in agility, obedience, weight pulling, and others.
The dock is usually 35 to 40 ft long by 8 ft wide and 2 ft above the water surface ]but may differ depending on the sanctioning organization. Any body of water or pool that is at least 4 ft deep can be used. The dock is covered in artificial turf, carpet, or a rubber mat for better traction and safety for the competitors. The handler may use any amount of the dock and they may start their dog from any point on the dock when competing.
The jump distance is measured, by most organizations, from the lateral midpoint of the end of the dock to the point at which the base of the dog’s tail (where the tail meets the body) breaks the water’s surface. Purina’s Incredible Diving Dog event measures the distance to the point that the dog’s nose is at when its body enters the water. The jump distance is measured electronically using digital video freeze frame technology or, in some cases, is measured manually by judges.
Each team takes two jumps in round-robin format. The longer of the two jumps is that team’s score for that competition. A jump in which the dog’s tail enters the water at a point further from the dock than another part of the dog’s body is scored using the point of the dog (for example, the head/nose) that breaks the surface of the water closest to the dock. If the dog’s strides are off so that the dog starts its jump before the end of the dock that is a disadvantage, because the jump is always judged from the edge of the dock, not from where the dog leaves the dock. A jump is only official if or when the toy leaves the handler’s hand. The dog is not required to retrieve the toy for the jump to count.
Place and send
Walk the dog to the end of the dock and or, hold the dog back while throwing the toy into the water. Walk the dog back to the starting point, place the dog, then release or send the dog to go get the toy. This is effective for dogs that are not trained to wait or stay on the dock, especially if they have a lot of speed and can compensate for the lack of lift at the end of the dock.
The dog is placed in a stay or wait at its starting position on the dock. The handler walks to the end of the dock holding the toy, then calls the dog and throws the toy, trying to keep the toy just in front of the dog’s nose so they chase it into the water. The goal is to use this method to get the dog at the optimum launch angle to increase distance by getting him to jump up, instead of just out or flat, as with place and send. The chase method is difficult to master. However, if the dog is toy-driven, he can be trained to follow the toy.
Some notable jumps by Dock Dog champions include Baxter at 29 feet, 7 inches, Smoke at 29 feet 1 inch, and Quasi at 28 feet, 11.29 inches.
I’m organizing the Kids Zone at the Lighthouse Country Fair next year (2015) and I hope to book this amazing show for our community to enjoy – stay tuned for more!