Dock jumping is the Cadillac of dog sports. Athletic, exciting, rambunctious, and engaging, dock jumping is a great way to provide dogs with ample exercise, stimulation and accomplishment for years to come. Here are the steps pet parents should take to introduce their dog to this exciting sport.
Four Steps to Start Jumping
1. Test the Waters
Either a dog loves dock jumping or he doesn't. Unlike complex sports like agility and obedience, a dog does not need to be highly trained to compete in dock jumping. The dog simply needs to be a decent swimmer with a stronger-than-usual drive to fetch toys. There is no specific breed that excels at dock jumping, although water dogs such as Labradors often do quite well at this sport.
To find out whether your dog would make a good dock-jumping candidate, take him swimming. He should be happy and comfortable in the water before setting foot at a dock jumping competition. If he is new to swimming, introduce him to water slowly. Never throw a dog into the water or force him to get wet, as this will create negative associations that are difficult to break.
2. Try the Exit-Ramp
Once you know your dog loves swimming and would willingly jump off a dock after his favorite toy, introduce him to the dock-jumping exit ramp. Although the exit ramp is designed to help dogs get out of the water easily, it may be startling to some and should be navigated beforehand. The dog should be comfortable with the exit ramp being somewhat wiggly and wet, as these are conditions he will potentially encounter during a competition.
3. Practice Some Throws
Dock jumping is a long-distance fetch event so your dog should be comfortable launching away from the dock for a toy. Start by throwing the toy out a good five or ten feet from the dock. Close enough to retrieve easily and yet far enough away to encourage a good jump, this distance is ideal for helping a dog get comfortable and boosting his confidence with the sport.
4. Take Your Dog to His First Event
Once you’ve laid the dock jumping basics, it’s time to take your dog to his first competition. Choose a small local event that lacks the huge crowds and intense competition of larger events, and be sure to stay energetic and upbeat throughout the event. Your dog may be nervous and that’s okay. By encouraging the dog and remaining positive, you will lay the foundation for fun dock jumping events in the future.
Dock jumping is a great way for dogs and pet parents to enjoy the warm summer months. Unlike most dog sports, dock jumping does not require any special training or athleticism and almost all dog breeds are likely to succeed. Take the above steps to figure out whether your dog is a good dock jumping candidate or not and, if so, get out there and enjoy your summer.
Photo ©iStock.com/Bob Balestri