It’s hard to decide who is having more fun, the dogs leaping into the water, the handlers hurling toys, or the spectators cheering on their favorite competitor. North America Diving Dogs (NADD) events have been growing in popularity since the American Kennel Club began recognizing dock diving titles in 2014. But this sport isn’t only for purebred dogs, one of the first NADD record-setters was a Labrador Retriever-Border Collie mix named Augie who completed a 24-foot Air Retrieve to tie the world record.
About the Sport
The North America Diving Dogs events are split into categories: Distance, Air Retrieve, and Vertical jumping. Each category offers different divisions based on the height and skill of the competing dog. Dogs are eligible to compete once they reach 6months old, and a special veterans class is offered for dogs over the age of 8 years. The Open class allows all dogs regardless of breed, sex or age. Lap Classes are for dogs under 16” at the withers (top of shoulder blades). Dogs in the Lap Class are measured until they are 2 years old at which point they are given a final height.
Distance jumping is a very popular category and is the best starting place for dogs new to dock diving. In this class, the handler stands at the end of the dock and throws a toy into the water for retrieval. A “splash” consists of two jumps, with a judge determining the distance of the jump based on where the base of the dog’s tail breaks the water’s surface. The best distance between the two jumps is recorded as the final score for the dog during that splash. This class is a demonstration in teamwork as the handler must have good timing in throwing the toy to encourage the dog to jump farther to catch it.
In Air Retrieve, a long metal rig holds a bumper (toy) affixed by magnets over the water. The Air Retrieve distance starts out 6 feet from the edge of the dock. The goal of the Air Retrieve is for the dog to run the length of the dock, jump through the air and catch or knock the bumper off into the water. Each successful jump results in the rig being moved back 1foot. Once the dog has missed the bumper twice in a row, or has three overall misses, the distance of the last successful retrieve is recorded as the score.
Vertical classes are a test in how high the dog can launch off the dock to retrieve the bumper. At the start of each dog’s turn, a metal arm is placed 8 feet. from the dock edge and the bumper hangs either 2 feet (Lap class) or 4 feet. (Open class) above the surface of the dock. The goal of this class is for the dog to run the length of the dock, jump up vertically and catch or knock the bumper off the rig. After each successful removal of the bumper, the rig is lifted 2 inches and the dog jumps again. Once the dog has missed the bumper twice at a height, or three misses overall, the last successful retrieve is recorded as the score.
While every competitor is different, most dogs seem to enjoy a positive, encouraging crowd. The more involved the spectators, the more energized the dog and the potential for a larger jumping effort. Since dogs are often competing against their own best record, competitors at NADD events are a supportive community who root for each other.
For more information about the North America Diving Dogs, check out www.northamericadivingdogs.com.
The North America Diving Dogs will hold a competition in Orlando, FL, with the finals on December 17 - 18, 2017. The AKC National Championship presented by Purina and the Canine Extravaganza will also take place during this time. If you’re planning to attend, don’t forget to visit PetPartners at the Fun Zone conveniently located between the vendors and the concession area!