By Brenna Fender and Angelica Steinker
Does your dog enjoy jumping into your pool or launching off your dock into a lake? Does he just love to swim every chance he gets? If so, you and your dog might like the sport of dock jumping.
Here are 9 fun facts you might not know about this sport:
1. Splash Dogs is organization that sanctions, and promotes dock jumping events. Splash Dogs tracks rankings and offers titles. Splash Dogs is affiliated with the United Kennel Club, and handlers may register to earn UKC dock jumping titles at Splash Dogs events. (The UKC’s website is ukcdogs.com). Courteous Canine holds dock jumping events sanctioned by DockDogs. For more information on Splash Dogs, visit www.splashdogs.com.
2. Ultimate Air Dogs (UAD) is yet another organization that sanctions dock jumping events. They host Ultimate Air (distance jumping) and Ultimate Vertical (high jumping) events. They also offer new game called “Catch It” in which jump distances are only logged when the thrown bumper (used to encourage the dog to jump) is caught. Like Splash Dogs, Ultimate Air Dogs is affiliated with the United Kennel Club, and handlers may register to earn UKC dock jumping titles at UAD events. For more information on UAD visit www.ultimateairdogs.net.
3. Dock jumping is open to any dog that enjoys the sport. All breeds and all sizes can play! While many competitions favor the larger dog that, by grace of having a longer stride, may be more likely to jump farther, some organizations have classes specifically for small dogs as well. Some events offer Veterans classes for older dogs and junior handler classes for kids ages 16 and under. It’s a very “inclusive” sport!
4. You might think that dock jumping is all about jumping far, but that isn’t always the case. As the sport is growing so are the games that are being played. Some events involve jumping high, swimming fast, or catching a thrown bumper.
5. There’s more training involved than you might think! If you just want your dog to have fun jumping in the water, then you might not need to train much, but if you want to win big competitions, there is more to be done. You will need to teach your dog to stay at the end of the ramp, run at top speed down the ramp and to take off as close to the end as possible. You will need to determine how high your dog needs to jump in order to have the proper trajectory for the longest possible jump, and then teach your dog to jump that high. You will need to develop drive and motivation for the bumper, and speedy, strong swimming skills. Dogs structure impacts how high they can push off the end of the dock. Dogs with shoulder lay back will not be able to reach the same heights as dogs who have straight shoulder angulation. No matter what your dog’s structure, the good thing about dock jumping training is it’s all fun!
6. Conditioning is important for any canine athlete. Build strength and endurance on both land and water for maximum results. Using balance balls such as recommended by Debbie Gross Saunders, Ph.D. www.WizardofPaws.com are ideal. Just like people dog’s do best when their core is strong.
7. To maximize your success, your dog will need to be really excited about getting to the bumper or toy that you are throwing. Play with it on land to build a lot of motivation. Make it the coolest thing ever! Hold the bumper up so your dog grabs it while jumping for it to simulate the ideal scenario. The goal is for your dog to track and grab the bumper while he is in the air and before he hits the water.
8. Know the body of water you are using for training or competing. This is particularly important when you are using lakes, ponds, and other natural bodies of water. Items under the surface of the water, like rocks or a shallow bottom, can injure your dog. In some places, wildlife (like alligators) can pose a danger to your dog. Be careful! We recommend using pools on grass surfaces for optimum safety! Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa’s pool is optimally safe by being outdoors on grass and crystal clear!
9. Your dog may get very tired while dock jumping, just like with any other activity. Watch for signs of over exertion and give him a rest when needed. Also, if your dog seems to bite the water or otherwise consume excessive amounts of water while jumping, make sure to take your dog out of the pool often and supervise that he urinates. If your dog tends to obsessively drink water, discuss how to prevent water intoxication with your veterinarian. This is a serious (but rare) condition that can lead to death. Fortunately, properly monitored dock jumping is a safe and fun activity that many dogs enjoy. If your dog loves water, give it a try!
Happy Dog Dock Jumping, sign up for a class today! www.CourteousCanine.com
Brenna Fender is a dog sport journalist who writes for Clean Run Dog Agility Magazine, USDAA’s website and many other high profile dog publications. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa offers agility, pushball and dock jumping instruction. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boutique boarding! Angelica Steinker the owner of Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is the author of Agility Success a book addressing the mental training aspects of agility training grab your copy at www.CleanRun.com.