First Dock Diving Trial

Vito was scheduled to compete in his first dock diving competition yesterday.  That was before his little injury of course.  Timing just sucks.  I decided to take him and have fun anyway though.  Maybe we will regret it, maybe not.  He's done a few laser treatments this last week and has more scheduled and of course zero issues seen since he hasn't done any agility work.

So we went, good plan or not.  Vito has only had the 2 practice sessions before, back in mid March.  Dock diving isn't really something I plan on seriously training for, we just want to dabble.  It was an interesting experience as I haven't been a newbie at a competition in a long time.  Completely clueless on not only how trials run but really the sport in general too!

Unfortunately I thought it was a really sad experience for a newbie.  I've remember my first obedience trial, rally trial, agility trial, and disc dog trial and this was by far the least welcoming.  It's sad when an AKC obedience trial is more helpful and welcoming than this!  I love obedience, but man I know AKC trials aren't exactly new exhibitor friendly!  Really my negative experience wasn't with the sport itself though but with this particular organization.

We were one of the first to arrive at the trial and after finding a place to setup, I walked Vito around the site and went to check in.  It was in a parking lot of a shopping center so I'm sure they had many visitors, but I clearly had a dog in tow and was looking for help.  I was ignored and wasn't sure I was even at the check in table.  I guess I was as eventually I was turned to and was checked off a list.  I excitedly shared that I was brand new(!) and all I got back was crickets.  Shuffled back to our setup to wait for the pool to open for warm up jumps of which I had no clue when that would start.

Vito was actually doing really well with everything.  Until he saw one of the organizers jumping their dog.  Then he began his Toller Screaming!  Was able to keep him mostly under control and calm-ish at the crate.

Eventually heard the announcement that the pool was open for warm up and went to stand in line.  Left Vito with Adam so that he didn't have to lose his mind just standing in line.  Finally Vito's turn!  We went up the stairs and I didn't even know there was a little gate that slid across to prevent the dog jumping off the ramp part until I saw others using it.  Luckily Vito didn't need it!  I really thought he would be hesitant at first so I had him all the way at the edge for our first throw.  Vito screamed his head off and leaped in :)  And then he proceed to keep accidently pawing his frisbee and pushing it under water.  The guy had to get the pool scooper to grab the toy and Vito wouldn't come up the ramp, instead he kept freaking out over his sinking toy and/or trying to get to me up the dock itself.  I apologize several times and state that I'm new but the guy doesn't say anything back really.  I just promised that I'd use a different type of toy later.

After hauling Vito out I get back in line to try again once I see everyone has gone.  But then exit when I can tell there won't be enough of a break before Vito runs for real.  He's listed as second.  Second, but apparently it's really first as the first team is the owner's dog and I don't realize it's not one of the practice jumps.  There's no briefing or anything like at other sports I've been to, we just start.

First throw I hold Vito maybe 8ft back from the dock and release him as I throw it.  He goes 10ft!  And apparently that's 1in over the novice division!  Yay Vito!  I used a bumper toy as I didn't bring any other type of frisbee  and don't really know if another disc would work better with Mr. Flaily or not.  Vito is the only dog around that I see in a life jacket :)

Throw #2 I try having Vito back a bit further and pretty much release and throw again.  But the toy doesn't really get out ahead of him before he takes off and Vito's jump is 8ft 6.

Then we wait.  It would have been nice to get some pointers but nobody talked to us or even gave a welcoming smile.
I didn't have Vito registered for any jumps at the next hour as I wasn't sure what was normal and thought a break would be good.  But since Vito was having a hard time fully relaxing in the environment I thought I would go see if he could move his jump up.  I waited until it looked like the score table was done announcing awards and looked free.  Apparently I was wrong as when I asked my question I was snapped at and told to wait until everyone had picked up their awards.  So I sat on the curb right next to the table and waited.  And waited.  There was a bit of activity but then pretty much nothing.  Finally after 15min of being ignored but obviously waiting I stand back up.  I am at least turned to now and asked if I have a question (not in a polite manner).  Apparently the answer was it's full so we waited.  Vito did relax for a little while before he started getting antsy.  It reminded me of his first few disc dog events where Vito didn't yet understand the structure.  Vito likes rules and routines so it didn't take long for him at disc events to understand about turns and relaxing when it wasn't his turn.  I'm sure that if we go to more dock diving events Vito would start to get it.

Throw #3 I tried to have Vito wait in a down stay. Didn't work so well!  And I'm not great at splitting my focus ahead of me vs on my dog and had the worst throw of the event.  Way to low.  Vito jumps 6.5ft I think.  We just keep getting worse!

Throw #4 I try the down stay again.  Still from a very short distance.  Vito does a bit better job and while my throw is late it's at least higher.  Somehow he managed to jump 10ft again!
Since that 1in puts him out of novice and into open we have zero chances at ribbons.

I would do it again.  But maybe with a different organization.  Both Vito and I tried our hardest even though neither of us knew what we were doing.  And this was also a great reminder to smile and be welcoming to newbies at every event I'm at.

Kristen  – ( May 22, 2016 at 6:55 PM )  

I like the videos from different angles!

K-Koira  – ( May 23, 2016 at 2:02 AM )  

Honestly, I would say that dock diving in this area is about the same. It is lots of fun to jump your dog, but the organizers aren't much help, other competitors are more interested in being in their own cliques, and some people are outright rude, including competitors deliberately cutting in line to get on the dock ahead of other people during warm ups. And, lots of hard handed gun dog type training- shock collars, prong collars, leash corrections, etc. As much as my dog loves dock diving, I don't like going to dock diving events. So we're just jumping at the river during good weather, but not going to be doing any more dock diving officially.

Amy / Layla the Malamute  – ( May 23, 2016 at 10:07 PM )  

Wowwwww that sucks!!! I'm so sorry you had that as your first experience.

Danielle D  – ( June 5, 2016 at 12:15 PM )  

Wow I'm really really sorry to hear this :( I have only done DockDogs and those people were AMAZING and totally excited about helping a newbie out.

I love Vito's SCREAM :D

Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck  – ( June 5, 2016 at 9:58 PM )  

I'm sure I'll try Dock Dogs at one point! It was really the Pier Pups owners themselves that were unhelpful and very rude vs the other competitors. It would have been nice if other exhibitors had been welcoming and encouraging but I understand it's hard sometimes when you have your own dog there. I'm just glad I've been to other dog sport trials to at least kinda know how events in general go.

The only thing better than fetch for Vito is WATER + fetch. We tried to wait as far away from the line as I thought I could get away with :)

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