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It doesn’t matter if you’re talking man or dog, leaping ability is one the purest measures of athletic ability there is. And for those with the good fortune of spending summer days near a lake, the sport of Diving Dog is natural for many dogs.

At the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge (IDC), the top dogs push the limits of gravity, flying through the air 30 feet or more before splashing down in the pool. Fetch It is similar to Diving Dog, but adds a physical goal to the end of that long, incredible jump.

THE BASICS

Diving Dog

The elements of the sport are:

  • A dog that loves the water and has strong swimming skills
  • A carpeted or nonslip 40-foot runway free of obstructions or trip hazards
  • Potable water, such as a pool, pond or lake with water that is at least 3 feet 6 inches deep for safe landing  
  • A toy or bumper which you throw out ahead of your dog to guide the leap

Fetch It

The elements of the sport are:

  • A dog that loves the water and has strong swimming skills
  • A carpeted or nonslip 40-foot runway free of obstructions or trip hazards
  • Potable water, such as a pool, pond or lake with water that is at least 3 feet 6 inches deep for safe landing  
  • A hanging toy or bumper, 4 feet above the water, that you can move closer to and further away from the dock

HOW COMPETITION WORKS

In Diving Dog, each dog gets two chances to get a running start on the dock and leap as far forward as he can into the waiting pool of water.

The winning dog is the dog whose nose is the furthest forward at the moment his chest hits the water.

Handlers can throw a toy or ball into the water ahead of the dog to get him motivated.

Fetch It! is a close relative to Dock Diving. Competing dogs run off the dock and try to retrieve or knock down a bumper over the water. The trick is that the bumper gets further and further away. It starts at 20 feet from the dock, and moves 1 foot further away each round. The winning dog is the dog who knocks it down further from the dock than any other dog can manage. Every dog gets two tries each round, and the bumper always stays at the same height (3 feet above the water).

Official Rules

GETTING STARTED

If you have access to a dock or even a nice bank on the shoreline, you can get started with Diving Dog or Fetch It on your own. Just make sure the approach to the water is clear of debris or trip hazards to avoid the risk of injury. 

To get started in either event, the first thing to do is to get your dog used to jumping into the water. Just lead your dog to the edge of the dock or shore, toss a favorite toy into the water, and encourage your dog to jump in. See how.

After your dog is comfortable with jumping in, move him backward to a starting point six feet from the edge of the water, while you remain at the edge to throw the toy. If he can stay on his own, you can do this alone, but if he has trouble waiting, you might want to enlist a friend to hold him until you say it’s ok to jump. As your dog gets more and more comfortable, move him further and further back from the edge of the water. See how.

For video lessons and to track your dog’s progress, download the P5 Training App for Android.

For more practice, especially with a dedicated pool and bumper for Fetch It, look for clubs and dog gyms with facilities and knowledgeable staff. Just do a quick search online to locate one near you.

TIPS FROM IDC VETERANS

Brianna Minshew is a Staff Supervisor at the Georgia Dog Gym in Rome, Georgia. She also competes in the Diving Dog competition with Knox, her 4-year old Border Collie. The team took 1st Place in the 2014 Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® Eastern Regionals.  

While athletic ability is important, she says the most important element for getting started is good obedience.

“My advice for those wanting to get into the sport of dock diving is to start off with a basic obedience class so the dog can learn to sit and/or down stay on the dock,” said Minshew. “They also need to learn to track and retrieve a toy. What I believe is the most important is to find a local facility that has a pool and get proper instruction and safety tips for the dock and also to have fun with your dog.”

Remember that, like any sport, it’s important to have fun with Diving Dog or Fetch It. And while your dog may not set a world record, you can still discover just how incredible he is – and spend time together doing it.