Dock diving also known as dock jumping is a sport in which dogs compete for distance, height or speed while jumping off a 40' dock into an above-ground pool or natural body of water. This sport has been steadily gaining popularity among dog lovers and even recently made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
A brief history
Dock diving made its debut in 1997 at the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. In 2000, the sport reappeared as a "filler" event at the first ESPN Great Outdoor Games. When "Big Air Dogs" drew thousands of spectators and forced the closure of several city blocks due to the size of the crowd, it was obvious the sport had a bright future. In fact, the airing of the big jumping dogs during the Outdoor Games outdid the X Games in ratings.
DockDogs® Worldwide was founded in 2000 and was responsible for the appearance at the Great Outdoor Games. While other dock diving organizations have since been established (including Splash Dogs and Ultimate Air Dogs), DockDogs and its affiliate clubs maintains its dominance in the field. Each year, DockDogs hosts hundreds of dock diving events throughout the US, Australia, England, Canada and beyond.
So, what is it?
There are three disciplines. In DockDogs, they are known as Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve. Other dock diving organizations have similar break downs with different names.
Big Air is generally the most well-known and most popular of the three. In this event, dogs can use as much or as little of a 40' dock to jump as far as possible into a pool or other body of water. Distance is measured by where the dock of the tail (where the tail meets the dog's rear) enters the water. The score is determined either by a group of certified judges or a high-speed camera that plays back the jump at 1,000 frames per second, allowing a judge to determine exactly where the dog landed. Teams (a dog and a human handler) have two jumps per "wave" (round of competition). The longest jump is the recorded score. [Click here for a video of a Big Air competition run.]
Extreme Vertical is a test of how high a dog can jump. A bumper (toy) is hung 8' away from the edge of the dock and at least 4'6" above the edge of the dock. Dogs must jump from in front of the 20' mark on the dock. During competition, the toy is raised 2" at a time. Dogs are allowed one miss. On the second miss, the height at which the dog last grabbed the toy is the recorded score. The dog who can grab the toy at the greatest height wins. [Click here for a video of an Extreme Vertical practice.]
Speed Retrieve is affectionately known as the "doggie drag race." Dogs begin with their feet in a box at the dock's 20' mark. Time begins when the dog breaks from the box and ends when they pull down a bumper hanging from two magnets at the end of the 40' pool. The dog who can cover the 20' of dock and 40' of water the quickest is the winner. [Click here for a video of a Speed Retrieve competition run.]
If you and your dog are interested in joining the sport, check out dockdogs.com for more information and stay tuned for other articles with dock diving training tips and more competition specifics.