We are big fans of Michelle & Sasha, of "Team Dash and Splash"! She was very gracious to contribute to our blog, sharing all about Dock Diving and how to get into this exciting sport! Read on to learn more...
Everyone loves to have fun with their dogs! Dock Diving is a great activity for humans and their four-legged friends. It’s a fun activity that can increase the bond between human and canine, and it’s a great way to exercise your dog.
What is Dock Diving? Ultimately, Dock Diving involves your dog running down a 40-foot-long dock, and jumping into a 40-foot-long pool, both for fun and competitively. All dogs of any shape and size are welcome to try Dock Diving! The key components that your dog needs to be successful are: that they can swim, that they enjoy swimming and that they have a good toy drive. Wanting to chase that toy into the pool is what is going to make your team successful, because you are a team. If you don’t do your job as the handler, they can’t do their job as the athlete!
Dock Diving is so much fun! There is definitely a competitive aspect to the sport, but, let’s be honest, that is really for the humans. Your dog has no idea how far they jumped, or if they “won”. All they know is that they get to play a really fun game with their favorite person.
My dog, Sasha, and I are “Team Dash and Splash”. We have been Dock Diving for four years and we have competed in almost all of the different types of games in Dock Diving. It is 100% a team sport because, if I don’t do my part correctly, then she can’t do her part correctly.
There are a lot of hurdles to overcome when first starting. If your dog has never been swimming in a pool before, or if you haven’t found that perfect toy yet, these might be some things that you want to work on. We just jumped (literally) right into it. Once I knew Sasha could swim, and would bring back a toy in a lake, I found a local competition and away we went. If you want to practice a little more before your first competition there are practice facilities in some areas, which you can find online.
Our struggle is that Sasha is just a little too enthusiastic to get in the pool. When we wait in line, Sasha is constantly barking, crying, and whining to get in the pool because she loves it so much. Honestly it was pretty embarrassing, but that’s not a bad thing because you want your dog to be excited to play this game with you. It’s supposed to be fun, something that you both enjoy.
There are different organizations that one can compete with and each has their own unique set of disciplines. The most common game to play with you pup is the distance jump. There are two methods to this game: Place and Send, and the Chase method.
Place and Send is when you walk to the pool end of the dock with your dog, normally still on leash, throw the toy into the pool, then walk back to where you want your dog to start from, unleash them, amp them up and let them go.
The Chase method involves your dog having a certain amount of self-control. For this method, the dog is placed where the handler wants them to start from. Ideally, the dog stays where it is placed while the handler walks to the far end of the dock, and waits to be released by the handler, who is holding the toy. As the dog is sprinting down the dock towards the pool, the handler will throw the toy into the pool at just the right moment so that the dog ends up chasing the toy into the pool. Throw too early and your dog can’t track it when they jump, throw too late, and your dog lands in the pool before the toy does. Neither scenario is ideal.
Distance jumps are measured by where the tail set of the dog (where the tail connects to the body) lands in the water. Divisions are separated by distance, not by breed or weight. While there are specialty classes for dogs under a certain height and for dogs over a certain age, for the most part, size does not determine what division your dog competes in. If your Labrador jumps 15 feet and a Jack Russell Terrier also jumps 15 feet, then they will be competing in the same division.
There are other Dock Diving games to play with your pup including jumping for height and swimming for speed, but distance jumping is by far the most popular discipline, and the easiest one to get your dog started with Dock Diving.
Any breed can compete in Dock Diving. I’ve seen everything from Beagles to Great Danes compete. If your pup has a tendency to sink, a life jacket can be worn during competition.
I love this game because Sasha loves this game. The friends I have made along the way are priceless, but her love for this sport is so evident in her face after a first jump of the weekend, and in the fact that anytime we are near a lake or pool she tries to drag me in. Sasha is relatively successful at Dock Diving. She has placed in multiple disciplines, won a few times, earned invitations to various championships, and her personal best distance jump is 26 feet 4 inches. Despite these facts, every time we compete, I tell her the same thing. That it doesn’t matter if she jumps two feet, or 22 feet, I love her just the same, as long as she’s having fun!