Photo courtesy Scott Wayland
Dock Jumping events are a very exciting and fun experience, but it can also be a very exhausting weekend and a rough time if you’re not prepared. If you know what you’re getting yourself into and get you and your dog properly geared up for the event, you should have a blast and will have found yourself a new addiction.
First off, here’s an overview of how Dock Jumping events run. Normally, an event takes place over a weekend. There will be several rounds of competition called ‘splashes.’ During the course of a splash, each dog/handler team gets two jumps. The higher of these two jumps is the team’s score. Each team can have two handlers on the dock, if the dog has trouble staying. At the culmination of the event, the last day, all the scores from all the splashes are tabulated to each team’s highest score, into a bubble, and then ranked highest to lowest. The top five dogs in each division jump in the finals. Dogs are placed into divisions according to how far they jump.
Distance Jumping Divisions
Novice (NJ): 1” to 9’11”
Junior (JJ): 10’ to 14’11”
Senior (SJ): 15’ to 19’11”
Master (MJ): 20’ to 22’5”
Ultimate (UJ): 22’6” and up
In between splashes, there will usually be open dock practice time, venue and time permitting. On the posted schedule, there will be posted registration times. Pre-registration is through www.ultimateairdogs.net. Even if you are pre-registered, you still have to check in with the event secretary. Make sure you get to the event when registration opens, especially if this is your first time. Getting there early gives you plenty of time to park and get set up. It should also give you more time on the dock to practice and get your dog acclimated. Make sure you check in with the event secretary first—no one is permitted on the dock without first checking in.
(photo courtesy Leapin' Labs)
Also, evaluate what kind of condition your dog is in. If your dog is in great physical condition from doing other sports, such as agility or retriever trials, your dog should be able to handle the event pretty well. On the other hand, if your dog is a ‘weekend warrior,’ then you may want to only enter him in a couple of splashes and don’t push him too hard. These events can be very draining on a dog—lots of waiting in line for practice, excitement of being around so many other dogs and people, and the stress of being in a new, noisy environment---all of these factors can take their toll, not to mention the physical exertion of jumping and swimming themselves!
Following is a list of suggested items to bring:
- water dish
- dog’s favorite toy(s) that float
- treats for your dog
- dog coat
- change of clothes
- flat buckle collar
- tent for shade at outside events
The crate, water dish, towels, and dog toy(s) are all a must. The dog coat is suggested for shorter coated dogs during early spring, fall, and indoor winter events. This is particularly necessary at the indoor winter events, as it will be cold outside and the water inside will also be very cold; it’s important to keep the dog warm in between splashes. It’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes for yourself: you’re bound to get wet! Lastly, as the rules state you cannot use “pinch” or “prong” collars, choke collars, harnesses (head/or body), or any type of special training collars, you’ll want a flat buckle collar or slip lead for your dog.
If you read this article, prepare you and your dog beforehand, and bring all the appropriate items, you’ll be ready for a Dock Jumping event. Go and have a blast!
(photo courtesy Victoria Rak, www.tuffphoto.com)
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