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Labrador Sport Dock Diving

WHAT IS DOCK DIVING?

Dock diving is a wonderful sport for Labrador Retrievers. Dock diving is a fun competitive activity for water-loving dogs, and gives your dog a chance to interact with other dogs as well! There are many different types of events that take place at a Dock Diving event, usually involving various contests in speed, distance, and obedience.

HISTORY OF DOCK DIVING

Dock Diving is a relatively new sport, having only about nine years of official competitions. Dock Diving was founded in 2000, at the premiere of ESPN’s “Great Outdoor Games”. An activity called “Big Air Dogs” was used as a supplementary event during the competition, and was so popular with fans that it was made into an official sport. Since then, Dock Diving has been rapidly gaining in popularity, with many national organizations dedicated to coordinating and judging events all over the country.

DOCK DIVING EVENTS

There are many different events that may take place in dock diving. Each of these events involves a dog jumping off of a plank into a large pool of water. It’s important to properly socialize your dog with pool swimming, as the clear water can look unfamiliar to your Labrador. Dock diving events are designed to test your dog’s abilities in the water.

DISTANCE JUMPING (also called the SPLASH event)

In distance jumping, a dog owner will lead their dog far away from the plank, and then encourage them to run and jump as far as possible into the pool. With training, some dogs eventually will require little or no encouragement to make this jump. The distance of the jump is measured by the exact area where the dog’s tail hits the water (from the distance to the plank). In a traditional distance jumping competition, each dog is allowed two separate jumps, and the best jump of these two is recorded.

HEIGHT JUMPING (also called the ULTIMATE VERTICAL event)

In this event, the height of a dog’s jump is measured as opposed to the distance. This is a much more physically demanding event than distance jumping, and usually only one of these events is held during a dock diving competition. In this event, a rubber dog toy is suspended about eight feet over the pool. To complete this event, a dog must either take the toy in its mouth, or knock it off of the suspension. Each dog receives two chances to either grab or knock down the toy, and with each round, the toy is raised two inches. There is also a novice division of this event, which is categorized by jumps that are under six feet in height.

OVER-WATER CATCHING (also called the CATCH IT! Event)

This event is a variation of the distance jumping event, with an added twist. It is judged by the amount of distance that a dog jumps (by measuring from the dock to where the end of the tail lands), but the dog is also required to catch a rubber dog toy that is thrown over the pool at the instant of the jump. This is a very difficult maneuver for some dogs, and is currently the hardest competitive event at Dock Diving competitions. In addition to this, the event is scored slightly different from the other events. Instead of only the best of each two jumps being counted, the dog has the opportunity to make both of the jumps count, and the total distance score is both of the jumps added together. The distance of the jump does not count, however, if the dog does not catch the rubber toy. This creates an additional challenge, and is the newest event to be held at Dock Diving competitions.

WHY LABRADORS LOVE DOCK DIVING

Labrador Retrievers are naturally suited to being involved in any sport involving water. The Labrador Retriever’s coat is made up of two distinct layers, which give them their water resistant properties. The outer layer is coarse, oily, and very resistant to any type of moisture. The inner layer is thick, soft, and helps to insulate the Labrador from any temperature variants. In addition to this, the Labrador Retriever’s paws are complimented by thin webs of skin in between the toes, giving them superior swimming abilities in the water.

The Labrador’s skills in the water were first recognized in England, when the breed was still in early development. English fishermen began to take Labrador Retrievers on their fishing boats, since the dogs were able to swim to and retrieve fish that had fallen off of the hooks. Labrador Retrievers also helped fishermen by grabbing onto the floating corks that held up fishing nets, assisting in dragging these nets to shore. These valuable skills were recognized, and selectively incorporated into future breeding.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR LABRADOR FOR DOCK DIVING

There are “Demo” events that are held along with official Dock Diving events, which give dogs new to this sport an opportunity to practice their skills at each specific event. These Demo events are not scored or judged, and are held mostly for entertainment purposes. Bringing your dog to one of these events is a great way to introduce them to the Dock Diving sport, and get some exercise as well!

However, before bringing your Labrador Retriever to a Demo event, it’s important to first establish a level of obedience with your dog. There will be a lot of other people and dogs at the event, and it’s important to properly socialize your Labrador before exposing them to such a high-energy event. Try to get your Labrador Retriever used to swimming as well, by constantly making water a part of playtime. Once your dog is comfortable with water, other dogs, and other people, you can do some preliminary training for a Dock Diving event. This can be accomplished by following a structured training program, or by simply mimicking some of the Dock Diving events when you are playing with your dog. Labrador Retrievers are naturally suited for the Dock Diving sport, and training should not be difficult.

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