Written by Anna Hollisey
Next time your dog leaps from a bank into the lake or river, get your measuring tape. How far did they fly before hitting the water? The current record is 36.3 foot! This new sport is called Dock Diving, and we’re ready to dive in!
Introduced in 1997 at Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge, Dock Diving is a relatively new canine sport.
It involves a 12m jetty (which is usually lined with something grippy, like artificial turf or rubber) extending over a body of water. Dogs are challenged to run along the jetty and see how far they can leap.
Their distance is then measured (from the end point of the jetty to the point where the bases of their tails meet the water) and winners are declared.
As we all know, many dogs love the water – indeed, you probably know a pup who makes daring leaps into the local lake. They seem to relish flying off the jetty or dock to paddle frantically after a toy or ball, and we’re not going to deny them that joy.
But it’s important to note that some experts have issued warnings about the health and safety of dock diving. The dramatic jump can cause joint problems or injuries like torn ligaments, leading to arthritis in later life. Training on dry land can be especially risky, as repetitive jumping on a harder surface puts a real strain on the joints. Certain breeds, like German Shepherds, Retrievers, and Labradors, are genetically disposed to develop joint problems – yet these are also some of the dogs who love jumping and swimming.
What about the intense training? Pushing our dogs into a rigorous training programme can be detrimental, but of course, training for a sport that they enjoy can be beneficial to the dog, who gets mental as well as physical stimulation (plus time with their owner).
If you choose to try dock diving, it’s important to train your dog using positive techniques, rather than punishments, and always ensure that they are well conditioned to participate. Keep them healthy with a variety of types of exercise, and consider a joint supplement to keep their limbs supple. Regular check-ups at the vet will help you to spot early symptoms or injuries.
Ever thought that your dog might be a champion long-jumper? Dock diving is the challenge for them. At the time of writing, the Guinness World record is held by a 7-year-old whippet, who leapt an amazing 11.12m in Washington in 2022.
In dock diving, the handler throws a toy for the dog to retrieve from the water (although they don’t have to fetch it to be successful). They’ll throw it from the end of the jetty, either before or while the dog races along the 12m platform. For some dogs, jumping into the air right after the toy means they’ll aim higher and further.
The early records were set at around 25 foot but accomplished handlers and exceptional dogs have pushed the distance further during the past few years. We can’t wait to see a dog beat Sounders the whippet!