Kala Sizemore and her dog compete in dock diving.

Who Let the Dogs Out? A Deep Dive into Dock Diving

In a previous story, we took an in depth look into the world of dog agility. Now, I want to shed some light on another invigorating dog sport: dock diving.

Dock diving is a relatively simple canine sport, and it requires almost no training in order to get started. Like any sport, if you want to rise to the top ranks, it requires time, dedication, and practice. However, this sport can be done by anyone who has a dog that loves a toy and water.

Like agility, dock diving is scored entirely off your dog’s performance.

There are several different sanctioning bodies that host dock diving competitions, but the one that holds the most competitions including the National Showcase is the North America Diving Dogs. There are three disciplines in this sport: distance jump, hydro dash, and air retrieve.

Distance jump is the most basic of the three, and it consists of the dog running down a 40-feet long dock and jumping into a 41-feet long pool. The jump is scored based on where the base of the dog’s tail hit the water. Currently, the world record is held by a Whippet named Sounders who jumped 36 feet 2 inches.

In air retrieve, the bumper (a stick shaped dog toy) is suspended 2 feet above the water. The objective is for the dog to run down the dock and grab the toy hanging in the air. The minimum distance for this competition is 6 feet from the end of the dock. If a dog grabs the toy successfully, the toy is moved another foot out until they miss the toy or the owner elects to finish.

Hydro dash is the newest discipline in dock diving. Unlike the other two disciplines, which judge the dog on its ability to jump a distance, hydro dash tests the dog on how fast it can swim. The bumper toy is set 37 feet out into the pool and suspended 1 inch above the water.

Kala Sizemore’s dog takes a big leap into the water in dock diving.

The dog must start from the 10-foot mark on the dock in order to accurately and fairly score the swim times of each dog. The timer begins when the dog’s last foot leaves the dock, and it is stopped when the dog swims past the 10-foot mark of the pool after having retrieved the bumper.

Similar to agility, dock diving is divided into two classes in order to divide the small and large dogs. Any dog under 16 inches tall at the shoulder will be placed into the lap class, and any dog over this height will be placed into the open division.

After the height division, dogs are placed into six divisions based on how far they jump. These six divisions are designed to place dogs of similar abilities against each other. Therefore, a dog jumping 36 feet will not compete against a dog jumping only 12 feet.

Dock diving is a beginner-friendly and exciting sport to try if you are looking to have fun with your dog. Dock diving is open to dogs of all breeds including mixed breeds. The only requirement is that dogs must be at least 6 months of age on the day of the competition. Additionally, some events offer try-its which allow dogs to get their feet wet and familiarize themselves with the dock before entering competitions.

If you are interested in getting your dog involved in dock diving, visit the North America Diving Dog’s website. From there you can find a local event and get started!

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