Both Raleigh and Iggy competed in their first dock diving competition this summer and they loved it! We participated in a competition at The Dog Tank in Menomonie, WI on both Saturday and Sunday. I was pleased with how well they did, given that Iggy just learned to swim this past summer. Also, Raleigh had never jumped from a dock until this summer.
Raleigh’s first attempt to swim last summer was something of a failure; she initially didn’t understand that she needed to use her back legs as well, so her back end began to sink when she got far enough out. She loved the water but really struggled to stay afloat, so Brian and I would take turns holding her back end up so she would get used to the kicking motion in her back legs. After numerous times throwing the ball out so Raleigh could practice swimming, she finally got it! However, last year she was a little too timid to jump off of the dock.
Fast-forward to this year – Raleigh already knew how to swim and had gained confidence when entering the lake. She loved swimming out and fetching a tennis ball for us. Iggy wanted to follow Raleigh, but was hesitant in the deep water. However, once he realized he could swim he learned quickly. And he is a FAST swimmer. He actually kind of reminds us of an otter the way he glides through the water without splashing much with his paws.
The dock at our cabin is a little high above the water, so we went over to the public access to try jumping from the dock, which was a little lower. Raleigh refused to jump straight off of the end, but would jump out to the side of the dock, which was still deep enough to swim in. Iggy followed suit, although he jumped off the end of the dock right away. Iggy is not terribly motivated by any kind of toy when he’s jumping: he actually hardly pays attention to it because he’s so excited to jump in the water (a behavior I like to see).
The second time we adventured to northern Minnesota this year the docks were pretty high above the water at the resort we were at, but our dogs didn’t mind at all! Once they gained that initial confidence jumping from the dock into the water, they were okay with the increased height.
However, jumping into a pool is much different than jumping into a lake, so we registered for some practice sessions at The Dog Tank. The first session we went to we spent time familiarizing our dogs with the ramp they would use to exit the tank, something that Raleigh struggled with for a few minutes. We expected Iggy to struggle with it as well as he tends to be skeptical of new things, but he was so excited that he went right down the ramp and bombed into the water.
When it was time for them to jump into the pool, Raleigh was hesitant only the first time and jumped right in every time after. We use a Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper to motivate Raleigh and Iggy when diving. Raleigh is much more motivated by the toy than Iggy – to Iggy the toy’s presence in the water seems to be more of an afterthought. This may change as he gets older, but for now the water is enough motivation.
A month later, we were back at The Dog Tank for our first North America Diving Dogs (NADD) competition. Saturday was the first day, and Raleigh was our first dog to jump. You can opt to have a practice jump with each wave (a wave consists of two jumps, the best of which is recorded), but because we decided to participate in all four waves both days we opted out of practice to prevent our dogs from tiring too quickly. Her very first of four waves was very short because she was somewhat hesitant to jump. However, she wound up jumping and scoring well her second jump in that wave! Her best jump on Saturday was 13’11”, a score that falls in the Junior title division. Iggy couldn’t wait to jump in the pool (he tends to create a scene before he jumps; when he sees other dogs jumping he barks and cries with excitement), and his best jump of the day was 15’7”. This score falls into the Senior title division.
On Sunday we had some rainy weather so I wasn’t expecting our dogs to do as well, but they surpassed my expectations! Raleigh’s best jump of the day was 14’2”, and Iggy’s best jump was 16’0”. By the end of the day on Sunday both of them earned their fifth qualifying leg in their respective title divisions (Raleigh in the Junior titling division and Iggy in Senior), so both officially have dock diving titles.
We love dock diving because our dogs love it. It’s a dog sport that you can participate in even if you’re not very interested in training your dog on a regular basis. If you know your dog likes to swim, I would definitely recommend giving it a try. Furthermore, there’s no need to be nervous at your first competition (I was a little). The people who judge and participate in dock diving are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and more than willing to help newbies out. We know we’ll be back to diving soon!