By: Theresa Foster
Dock Diving is the fastest growing dog sport in the U.S. Any dog that has a love for toys and water can do it! So what is dock diving and why is it so popular?
Dock diving is a sport in which a dog runs down a 40ft foot dock and leaps off into a 40foot pool of water to get it’s toy. The dogs are “judged” by the distance they jump into the water to get the toy, the goal is to get your dog to jump as far as possible. It is a sport that at a beginner level doesn’t require hours and hours and hundreds of dollars in training. The beauty of dock jumping is that there are divisions that are broken down by distance and each dog only competes against dogs in its division, so a dog that jumps 5ft will not be competing with a dog that jumps 25ft. Which means every dog that jumps can be successful!
There are several different organizations for dock jumping and they all have the same idea with a few different rules. North America Diving Dogs (NADD) is the largest of the organizations and the fastest growing, they are also the only ones to offer AKC titles for your dogs, then there is DockDogs, Splash Dogs and a few others that are smaller and are not national organizations.
The thing I love most about dock jumping is that it is a great way for owners to bond with their dogs. As I mentioned above it is a sport that anyone can do! This sport is great for kids, there is even a Jr. Handler division, adults, seniors and people with disabilities can all compete! This sport is for any one that wants to get out and do something with their dog. Not only is it a great way to bond with your dog it is also a great way to meet other dog people! Everyone is there because of their love for their dog, and so often lifelong friendships are made at events. While as with any competition there can be drama and there will always be negative people, the majority of the people are very friendly and eager to cheer you and your pup on. There is a great sense of community at events and most are always happy to help a newcomer and give encouragement, friendly advice and share your excitement when your dog first jumps or hits a new personal best.
I like to call it “a gate way sport” as it often introduces owners to the crazy world of dog sports and before they know it they are playing Frisbee and signing up for agility classes. To me it’s more than just a dog sport because it gets people out doing things with their dogs, people who never thought about competing or think there is no way my dog can compete in anything. Then they see these dogs jumping off the dock and some just barely jumping and others flying and they think maybe just maybe my dog can do that! So they try and there is a magic moment when the dog goes off the dock for the very first time and the handlers eyes light up and they are hooked. Their dog can do this, they can do this!
If you are looking to get started into the sport of dock jumping search for events in your area and bring your pup out to try it. Most venues are very happy to help new jumpers get started or find a trainer in your area that teaches dock jumping and can help you get started.
Here are some links to help you find events in your area:
Remember facebook can be a great way to find dock diving events near you!
About the author-
Theresa and her husband Craig, have been competing in dock jumping since 2009. It all began with their black lab Herky. Herky loved jumping off rocks into rivers and lakes, so when we saw that there was a local competition they figured they would see how Herky would do. He jumped 14ft his very first jump and they were immediately hooked. They went to their first national championship in 2010. The next summer they began helping at events, wrangling and teaching new competitors how get their dogs off the dock. Herky is 14 now and mostly retired from jumping. They now have 7 other dogs that compete in dock jumping and 9 dogs total, including Sky is who a two time super vertical national champion, Hayden who has competed and placed in multiple national championships, and Addis who is an up and coming star and just starting her dock jumping career. They have competed all over the country attended multiple national championships and love teaching the sport to others. They have been seen jumping on Fox News, KSL, as well as in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News papers.