We saw some amazingly athletic dogs at the Dock Dogs "Puppy Palooza" on Saturday. Smart Dog University had a booth there, and I brought Tango and Nemo along. As well as my husband, who performed most of the manual labor that goes along with setting up a booth!
For those of you unfamiliar with dock diving, it’s a relatively new sport in which dogs jump off a dock and try to get the longest jumps. There’s also an "extreme air" competition in which it’s not distance that earns you the prize, but height. There are a number of techniques used, but in general, the dogs are chasing a bumper or tennis ball thrown into the water (jumping off the dock to get it).
Labradors made up most of the dogs in the competition, but I also saw German shepherds, a German shorthaired pointer, a Weimeraner and some mixed breeds (Lab Poodle crosses). I’ve never seen so many in-shape dogs before! It was so nice to see dogs who aren’t round, or waddle when they walk.
I’ve always tried to keep all my dogs on the lighter side of normal because it helps ease joint damage, not to mention a slight dog generally has fewer health problems than one who is on the heavy side. Both Nemo and Tango looked almost pudgy compared to those dogs!
There were a lot of dogs on prong collars there, which I think is unfortunate especially with the advent of the more modern (and less painful) harnesses and head halters. However, I did see some dogs on the Easy Walk Harness, too – so I can’t complain too much!
We’re not into the Dock Diving sport, but it sure was fun to watch! Tango gets all the dock diving he wants when we visit my parents on Lake Anna. One thing I noticed, though, was how some of the dogs were lacking self-control.
While waiting for their turn at the dock, the dogs and their handlers line up on the shore. I saw a lot of very enthusiastic dogs literally dragging their handlers to the dock. Once they were at the dock, they barked non-stop until it was their turn. I would think that all that extra effort from pulling their owner and barking their heads off would negatively impact their performance. All that energy going to waste on the bank of the pond – not being used at all to power the dog out from the dock.
It’s easy to see why the dogs get out of control, it’s a fun sport! But the dogs can be excited and under control at the same time. I’d like to see more handlers re-directing that energy to the jump instead of letting it all leak out there on the shore.
Tango took a practice jump between the "waves" of competition. It was his birthday present, after all. He loved it, of course. That’s all he does when we’re at Lake Anna! As we got closer to the front of the line, Tango’s excitement grew – he could see what the other dogs were doing and was anticipating his turn. To prevent him from getting out of control, we practiced our "take it," "tug," and "give." I held the bumper out in front of him, had him wait until I said "take it," then asked him to tug. Once he had tugged for a few seconds, I asked him to "give," and he’d spit the bumper out into my hand. I was giving him something to do so I could keep his activity level under control, while at the same time keeping him occupied. And the bonus – it helped reinforce his self-control.
We had a great time – the people were friendly, the dogs were terrific, and the weather was spectacular. If you get a chance to see Dock Diving dogs, don’t miss it!