Talented Jack Russell Terrier Dock Diving Champion
Jack Russells are usually highly energetic, vocal, fearless, lively, inquisitive and intelligent little dogs. Many need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep their destructive behaviors at bay. Today’s Fit Dog Friday post is dedicated to Macho, a 2-year-old talented Jack Russell Terrier who is a National Dock Diving Champion in the Lap Dog Division.
Macho The Jack Russell Dog Loves Water
From a puppy, Macho loved the water and was obsessed with tennis balls. This made the perfect combination for dock diving. Macho would spend hours every day swimming and retrieving his tennis ball in the family pool, but once he got bored, Macho started launching himself off the edge of the pool to chase the ball.
A friend suggested entering Macho into dock diving competitions. This is when a dog runs down a dock and jumps into a pool that is about 40 feet long and 4 feet deep.
Often, the handler throws a toy, ball or retrieving dummy into the air to encourage the dog to jump. The dock is covered in artificial turf, carpet, or a rubber mat for better traction and safety for the competitors. The handler may use any amount of the dock and they may start their dog from any point on the dock when competing. Macho took to it immediately and is now making a splash around America in dock diving competitions.
The Dock Diving Sport
In 2014 AKC (American Kennel Club) recognized the sport dock diving and offers diving dog titles recognized by AKC. Dock Diving is said to be currently the fastest growing dog sport in America.
The AKC Eukanuba National Dock Diving Championship was held this month in Orlando Florida. Over 400 dogs competed. Dogs that compete are classified in division according to the height of the dog.
Macho is in the Lap Dog Division. 16″ and below. Macho stands a proud 13 ” tall. Macho WON the honor of AKC’s National Champion with a huge jump of almost 10 ft! He will continue to travel across America and work hard in 2016 to defending his National Dock Diving title.
Macho just keeps improving. He is very focused and very driven. Also Macho is very fast which is needed to get height and distance in a jump. Macho stays conditioned with well-balanced meals and plenty of training.
Macho also surfs, paddle boards, rides Harley Davidson, loves off roading and is a great varmint hunter. Macho was a featured dog on the float Champion Dogs of San Diego in the Mother Goose Parade this year. He even has his own cartoon character.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Macho’s exercise program consists of lots of swimming, jumping, running, retrieving toys, and hill climbing to build his hind legs needed to reach long jumps. A “drive” for a “Toy” is a must for dock diving -Macho’s favorite is plastic floatable squeaky toys. Hours are spent keeping Macho’s drive going.
He needs to keep lean but also maintain extreme muscle mass. To achieve this, he has a strict daily exercise routine and healthy diet that keeps him in the shape needed to perform at his highest level of mental and physical strength for competitions. In the winter months, Macho wears a custom made wetsuit that keeps his body warm in the colder water.
STARTING YOUR DOG IN DOCK DIVING –Encourage your dog’s “toy drive”!
The toy drive is necessary because this is what entices the dog to jump into the pool. If the dog doesn’t care about the toy being thrown into the pool, it has no reason to get into the water!
If your dog is totally new to swimming, you’ll want to take it swimming before dock diving. Swimming can be a wonderful form of exercise. Some dogs need to learn to swim and some breeds may need to wear a flotation device. See our post on dogs swimming here.
Macho started when he was a few months old. But most dogs will learn over time with a lot of praise and encouragement.
Build your dog’s confidence with “Baby Steps”
Take your dog to a lake or pond to “test the waters,” so to speak. Find a “quiet” area with no distractions for your dog. Using their favorite floatable toy, first engage them in play on land, to trigger their interest in the toy. Stay upbeat and energetic the whole time, and make it the most positive experience you can. Once the dog is very engaged in play, start with some shallow water retrieves, enough to get the dog wet and comfortable in the water, but not enough that the dog has to swim.
Do not ever force a dog into the water; this could make it a very fearful experience for them and they may never want to swim. If the dog is leery about getting in the water, it may help for you to get in and lure them in, using yourself and the toy. Once the dog is confident in the shallow water, move on to throwing the toy into water deep enough where the dog has to swim a little bit to get the toy. If your dog is quite comfortable swimming and has sufficient toy drive, they’ll probably be ready to try out a dock diving.
A new dock or environment can be very intimidating to dogs. Build your dog’s confidence with “Baby Steps”. There is a two-foot drop from the dock to the water surface, and the water is very clear and troublesome for dogs to see where it is. Jumping in can be scary for them at first but they quickly overcome it and love it.
We actually watched 8-month-old puppy Portuguese Water Dog Buster learn to jump into the water off the dock last summer. He copied an older more experienced dog jumping in to swim to his Mom and after toys. He always wore a life jacket for the first few weeks.
“The first jump is the most challenging but the most rewarding.”
It is a totally unnatural environment for the dog; they’re jumping into a clear pool of water with people all around the dock and pool. Most dogs are used to jumping into lakes or ponds where the water is murky and it is easy for the dog to see the surface. TAKE YOUR TIME and don’t scare your dog. It is so important to make it a fun experience for both of you. Some dogs will catch on fast others may take a long time especially if they had a “bad” water experience in their past.
When you take your dog to his first dock jumping event, it is absolutely imperative to introduce your dog to the exit ramp. This should be the first step you take. You’ll want to take your dog up the ramp and have them do a retrieve into the pool from the ramp. This serves several purposes.
- First, you are showing the dog that they are going into the water. As previously stated, the water is often so clear it’s hard for the dog to see. Showing them the water from the ramp helps build their confidence.
- Second, it gets the dog comfortable with walking on the ramp. If they first encounter the ramp coming out of the water, they may easily panic and possibly even fall off the ramp.
- Last, but certainly not least, the dog will now know how to exit the pool once they go in from the dock. This is very important so they do not freak out, try to climb over the side of the pool, and potentially injure themselves. Take your time. It will pay off in the long run.
Once you take the dog onto the dock, you should begin with short throws and start the dog only about 5-10 feet back from the edge of the dock. It’s all about building the dog’s confidence. Throwing the toy short makes it more achievable for the dog if the toy seems in reach. Starting the dog short helps with this aspect as well, and serves the purpose of helping the dog find and mark the end of the dock. Once you and your dog jump you will have a “bond” like no other. It’s so much fun!
Macho now gets so excited he starts shaking with excitement when he sees a dock !! He absolutely loves it. I am so proud of what he has become. It’s been a lot of training but well worth it.
Be some doggy…go out with your best friend and have a ball. Make a Splash!!