On Friday, diving events began at 2 p.m. and
lasted into the evening. There were three ‘big air’ competitions
between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. was the ‘all-in-one
final for the Extreme Vertical.
On Saturday the competitions began at 11 a.m. with three big air
competitions. Then at 5 p.m. was the all-in-one final for Speed
Retrieve. At 7 p.m. the Big Air Final was the last event of the day.
Kim Nygard is one of the officials that travels with the Dock Dog
competitions. She spent some time Friday evening explaining how the
competition works. She said that there are three “disciplines” where
dogs and handlers compete.
The Extreme Vertical is a jump over the pool of water where the goal
is to achieve the maximum high jump. This is accomplished with an
item suspended over the pool that the dog then runs off of the ramp
and jumps into the air to retrieve.
Big Air is another discipline, and is the most popular for amateur
and novice dog/handler teams. With this competition, the handler
brings his or her dog along with a toy to the dock. The dog is
staged at the back of the dock. The handler stages near the edge.
The dog must stay in place until the handler gives the signal to
start, and the toy is then thrown into the water. There are two
goals in this competition. The handler needs to throw the toy far
enough that the dog will need to jump into the water to retrieve it.
The dog needs to run the length of the dock and dive off the edge,
but…fly through the air as far as possible before its hind section
hits the water.
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Dock Dogs operates simultaneously in several
locations throughout the United States. There are also Dock Dog
competitions in Canada and Australia. Nygard explained that in many
states, though not yet in Illinois, there are Dock Dog Club’s
consisting of people who get together outside the competition event
to work as a group with their dogs, and also socialize over a common
For training a dog, Nygard said one of the best
methods is to utilize a lake with a dock and get the dog accustomed
to running the length of the dock and jumping into the water on
In the Speed Retrieve, the dog is positioned mid-way the length of
the dock. When commanded, the dog runs about 20 feet on the dock,
then dives into the water and swims 40 feet to the far end of the
dock to retrieve an item. Time is called when the dog gets the
Nygard said records are kept and world records are established in
each of the disciplines. She also noted that the record for Speed
Retrieve was recently broken. A competitor ran the dock, did the
dive, swam to the other end and retrieved his toy in 4.5 seconds.
In the distance competitions the world record is 31 feet and in the
high jump discipline the world record is 8 feet 10 inches into the
Saturday was a good day for this type of event. The weather was warm
but not terrible hot or humid. Crowds gathered on the Logan County
Courthouse Lawn to watch the events throughout the afternoon. The
courthouse lawn provided a natural riser, giving spectators a height
advantage that offered the best view of the event. Many folks
brought their lawn chairs and just spend the afternoon relaxing,
visiting, and watching this great new event.
Medals and pins were given out to the top finishers in each of the
finals. There was no award ceremony at the end of the day, but
results will be posted on the Dock Dogs website.
At noon on Sunday, those results had not yet been posted, but the
website can be checked from time to time if desired, by utilizing
this link -
[Nila Smith & Mitch Douglas]