By Dr. Becker
Recently I wrote about dogs that surf. Today I want to take a look at a different type of canine water sport that has become very popular – dock jumping competitions.
This is great activity you can enjoy with a willing dog who is also a strong swimmer and comfortable in the water.
There’s nothing complicated about dock jumping. Dogs jump into the water and are judged on how well they do it.
The rules for dock jumping competitions vary from one event to another, but typically dogs are critiqued on how far they jump, how high they jump, and how quickly they retrieve an item thrown in the water to entice them. If a dog competes in all three events, he’s in the running for the “Iron Dog” title.
Three Main Events
At Summer Splash, a three-day event held outside Chicago, 150 dogs compete by jumping into a four foot deep pool from a dock constructed two feet above the water.
In the event known as Big Air, the jumps are measured for distance. A dog that can get a good running start and a long jump off the dock is a good candidate for this event.
The Extreme Vertical event involves dangling a toy above the pool which the dogs must retrieve in mid-air. The toy is raised to increasing heights as the event progresses. Athletic, long-legged dogs tend to be good in this event.
These photos are of Alex, one of my patients. As you can see, Alex is an amazing competitor in the Extreme Vertical event!
The Speed Retrieve event is for dogs who enjoy fetching objects thrown in the water.
Dogs at dock jumping events must enter the water on their own – owners are not allowed to “help” their pet into the pool. Owners can, however, use anything that floats to encourage their pets to compete. Bumpers (retrieval toys), tennis balls, rubber ducks and Frisbees are commonly used as incentives.
Dogs Can Earn Titles and Prize Money
Dock jumping events are open to all dogs – purebreds, mixed breeds, dogs that have competed in other events, and newcomers to the sport.
There’s not a lot of prize money involved in dock jumping competitions, but dogs can earn titles. The United Kennel Club awards titles through Ultimate Air Dogs and Splash Dogs events.
There are no professional dogs involved in the sport, but there are a few dog owners who travel across the country to compete in dock jumping events for the recognition and to set records.