My mom and I get a lot of people asking about trying dock diving with their dogs. They want to know where they can go try it, what they need, what type dog can do it, and many others.
I like questions about dock diving, because it gives me a chance to talk about my most favorite activity. But to answer these questions, I'm going to turn today's blog post over to my mom. (I don't think she can do much harm in just one post.)
So....take it away, Mom!
Thanks, Sally. Sally's right about people asking how to get their dog started in dock diving. I get these questions on almost a daily basis. So, here's a run-down of some of the most frequently asked questions and the answers.
1. Do you think my dog can dock dive? Potentially, any dog can dock dive. In order to be a successful dock diver, your dog needs at least these two qualities: 1) a strong toy drive or drive to retrieve, and 2) a love of water. Having both qualities almost assures that your dog will be successful. That's why Hoppy isn't a dock diver. He has neither a drive to retrieve nor a toy drive, and he doesn't like the water. But we're working on it!
2. Where can I find a place to dock dive? That is a good question. Our local dock diving club, Dixie Dock Dogs, is affiliated with DockDogs national organization which has local clubs around the country. Check with dockdogs.com by going to the forums and see if there's a club near you. If not, then just find a dock on a lake, pond, or river and start jumping!
3. What do I need to dock dive? Technically, all you need is an object to throw for your dog to retrieve. Depending on where you are jumping, you will probably need a leash to contain your dog when not on the dock.
4. Can I throw any type toy? What about food? The DockDogs rules say the object has to be floatable, non-edible, and not live or has never been live. That's all. But that pertains to events. I've seen people use all types of things at practices to get their dog off the dock. The use of treats at practice is certainly acceptable in order to lure your dog off the dock. But once your dog is jumping, then you should adhere to the event rules to get them used to the proper procedure.
5. Should I take my dog to an event or wait until he can go off a dock? Do not wait! Go to an event as soon as you can. There will be people to help you get your dog to jump. A dock diving event is definitely the perfect time to let your dog have his first dock experience.
6. Can I push my dog in the water if he won't jump? The DockDogs rules say no. So do our club's rules. I'm not sure about other clubs' rules. If you're jumping on your own, you know your dog better than anyone. I definitely wouldn't throw a dog in. That can be traumatizing, and he'll be turned off to any dock diving.
7. Can I get in the water to coax my dog in? The DockDogs rules say no, so at events, definitely not. But people in our club have gone in at practice to get their dogs in. I'm planning on going in the water to coax Hoppy in (after the water warms up).
8. Does my dog have to have a good sit/stay? No, not at all. There are two methods of throwing an object. The first is The Chase. That's where the dog sits and stays while you go to the end of the dock. release your dog, throw the object out over the water, and the dog jumps for the object. For The Chase, your dog does need a good sit/stay. The other method is Place and Send. That's where you throw the object out into the water and then release your dog from wherever you want on the dock. The dog jumps out into the water for the object which is floating in the water. Your dog does not need a sit/stay for the Place and Send method.
9. Does your dog have to be pure-bred or registered in order to be a dock dog? Absolutely not! DockDogs accepts any breed, any mixed breed, any size, any age, any color. Many of the very best dock diving dogs are rescues. It is a very open sport that welcomes all dogs.
10. Where can I find these rules you keep talking about? The rules for the DockDogs national organization can be found on their website. Practice rules for each individual club you can get from each club.
11. How did your dogs get their titles? In order for your dog to be titled, you have to first be a member of the DockDogs national organization. Then five jumps at national events within any title's range gives your dog that title. For example, the Junior Title range is 10'-14'11". Five jumps within that range at any of national events will earn your dog a Junior Title. It does not have to happen at one event. The five jumps can be at several different national events. (There are also Regional Titles which are earned the same way, but at regional events.)
12. I would like for me dog to do this, but he's too old. Not so! DockDogs has a Veteran's class for dogs eight years and older. These dogs have their own awards, their own titles, and their own rankings. They can also participate in the regular events and jumps as well.
If anyone out there in reader land has additional questions, please let me or Sally know. We'll gladly respond. I have a feeling there are a lot of great dock dogs out there waiting to be discovered.
Remember, your dog will never be a dock dog if you never give it a try. He'll never jump off the dock if he never gets up on the dock first!
Sally is preparing a "How To" post for those of you who want to actually give it a try. She'll probably post that next week, complete with some very entertaining photos of people trying to get their dogs to make that first jump. So, stay tuned!
Filling in for Sally (although I could never fill her shoes, or paws),
Nancy, the Trainer of Team 3 Dawg Flite
Proud member of Dixie Dock Dogs
Dixie Dock Dogs video