It doesn’t matter if you’re talking man or dog, leaping ability is one the purest measures of athletic ability there is. And diving dogs from around the world compete at the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® to showcase that ability on the big stage.
If you have a dog who loves the water and have access to a lake or diving dock, you may want to get the dog event of Fetch It a try.
Fetch It is a close relative to Dock Diving. Competing diving dogs run off the dock and try to retrieve or knock down a bumper that hangs 4 feet above the water. Each round the bumper moves farther from the dock. The dog who completes the furthest jump, wins!
When you think of the breeds that would thrive as diving dogs, the retrieving breeds that take naturally to water like Labrador or Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, would be on the shortlist. But a number of other breeds, from Doberman Pinschers to Belgian Malinois, also excel at the sport. But you simply need a dog that takes to the water and enjoys a good thrill.
What You Need
The elements of this dog diving event are:
- A dog that loves the water and has strong swimming skills
- A carpeted or nonslip 40-foot runway free of obstructions or trip hazards
- Potable water, such as a pool, pond or lake with water that is at least 3 feet 6 inches deep for safe landing
- A hanging toy or bumper, 4 feet above the water, that you can move closer to and further away from the dock
How to Train
If you have access to a dock or even a nice bank on the shoreline, you can get started with Fetch It on your own. Just make sure the approach to the water is clear of debris or trip hazards to avoid the risk of injury.
To get started in either event, the first thing to do is to get your dog use to jumping into the water. Just lead your dog to the edge of the dock or shore, toss a favorite toy into the water, and encourage your dog to jump in. See how.
After your dog is comfortable with jumping in, move him backward to a starting point six feet from the edge of the water, while you remain at the edge to throw the toy. If he can stay on his own, you can do this alone, but if he has trouble waiting, you might want to enlist a friend to hold him until you say it’s ok to jump. As your dog gets more and more comfortable, move him further and further back from the edge of the water. See how.
Tips From Competition Veterans
Brianna Minshew is a Staff Supervisor at the Georgia Dog Gym in Rome, Georgia. She also competes in the Diving Dog competition with Knox, her 4-year old Border Collie. The team took 1st Place in the 2014 Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® Eastern Regionals.
While athletic ability is important, she says the most important element for getting started is good obedience.
“My advice for those wanting to get into the sport of dock diving is to start off with a basic obedience class so the dog can learn to sit and/or down stay on the dock,” said Minshew. “They also need to learn to track and retrieve a toy. What I believe is the most important is to find a local facility that has a pool and get proper instruction and safety tips for the dock and also to have fun with your dog.”
The Diving Dog competition is similar to Fetch It except that dogs try to leap as far forward as they can into the waiting pool of water without having to retrieve or knock a bumper.
There are a number of ways to get started in dock diving.
- Find a club: There are clubs and dog gyms all over the country with facilities and knowledgeable staff. Just do a quick search online to locate one nearest you.
- Network: Another great place to begin is by networking through your local breed-affiliated club.
- Go to the lake: If you have access to a dock or even a nice bank on the shoreline, you can get started with this on your own. Just make sure the approach is clear of debris or trip hazards to avoid the risk of injury.
Like any dog competition, it’s important to have fun. And while your dog may not have the physical makeup to set a world record, it’s an amazing journey to watch him or her maximize the potential inside.
Before getting started, remember that you should always consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog is fit for exercise. And make sure to fuel your incredible dog with advanced nutrition that will help them be their best. Find your dog’s formula.