The Best Way to Prepare Your Canine Athlete for Competition

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Meet Liam, an amazing canine athlete, a dock dog. Liam is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, owned and loved by his handlers, Scott Dempsey and his wife Terra. A dock dog you say? What is a dock dog? Does it take a special breed to be a dock dog? How do you prepare your canine athlete for competition day? Is there anything you do following an event to allow your performance dog to recover? I know, so many questions! I decided to ask Liam’s handler for some answers and do a little research, too. And here’s what I found out.

What is a Dock Dog?

A dog that competes in distance or height while jumping from a 40-foot dock into water is a dock dog. Dock dogs love to run, jump and swim. Any breed, mix, and size of dog can compete.

What is Dock Jumping?

Dock jumping, also known as dock diving, is one of the newest canine sports. It’s only been around since the late 90s, and it’s gaining in popularity.

Dock dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a 40-foot dock into a 40 to 50-foot pool. Dock jumping is like broad jumping competition in high school track meets, only your dog does the jumping. And they jump into water rather than sand, a “long jump for dogs.”

Your dog may be placed anywhere on the dock, run and jump into the water after a throw toy that you as the handler provide and toss. The distance of your dog’s jump is judged from the end of the dock to where the base of his tail meets his body, his butt breaks the water’s surface. Your team is allotted 90 seconds to get your dog down the dock and into the water.

How Do You Prepare Your Canine Athlete for Competition?

Liam competes in jumping for distance in the dock diving sport. His longest jump is 30.2 feet. The current world record for distance jumping is 31.2 feet.

General Preparation

Successful results happen when you properly prepare your canine athlete for competition. And proper preparation starts way before you arrive at an event. General preparation for us starts in the offseason with conditioning and diet. As a handler, you can’t expect the most from your dog if you don’t prepare your canine athlete with exercise and feed him a well-balanced diet.

Canine LASERwrap

I work with Liam almost every day. The amount of time on the docks is limited, usually 1 to 2 minutes per jump, so learning basic commands and practicing them is important. We practice “Sit,” “Stay,” and other basic commands like “Loose” (drop toy) and “Come.” There’s nothing worse than when your dog gets fired up and refuses to release his grip on his toy. Or your dog sits well but moves the minute you walk away. Sitting and staying are important commands to obey when on the dock.

Sprinting and core exercising conditions Liam for burst speed. Speed plus height will give you the longest jumps.

Of all the diets we have tried, we found that Earthborn products work best for us. Right now, Liam eats Earthborn Primitive Kibble. This kibble has a high protein content. We’ve also tried many supplements but settled with EarthVet and MVPK9 products.

Liam visits his vet regularly. He gets season physicals at the beginning and end of the seasons.

We use the Spectra Therapy Canine LASERwrap® regularly as well.

Preparation for Competition Day

Liam’s preparation for the competition includes the general preparation mentioned above plus rest the night before. And we feed him a small-portioned meal. We limit his meals during an event and give him plenty of water, ice chips, and high protein snacks.

Liam wears the LASERwrap the night before, the morning of, and following the competition.

Stretching is important to prepare your canine athlete for competition. And this should be done on a very regular basis, especially on the morning of, throughout the day of, and following an event. We like to keep Liam out walking and moving around instead of keeping him crated the entire time.

Post-Competition Routine 

Their post-competition routine includes the LASERwrap, stretching, giving Liam water, and feeding him a regular meal. I allow him to get lots of rest and avoid doing anything strenuous after competing. Recovery time should be relatively short.

How to Prepare Your Canine Athlete for the Next Competition

Canine LASERwrap

Liam wears the LASERwrap with dual lasers, size XL. It gives him full body treatment on the go without us having to spend the time to apply the lasers directly.

Typically, we use the coat and wraps for 30-minute sessions. The automatic feature of the lasers gives two 10-minute sessions with a 10-minute break in-between.

The Spectra Therapy Strip Wraps have been very beneficial to us as well. The Strip Wraps can target a leg stifle or thigh when needed. Liam recently strained his iliopsoas muscle. The Strip Wrap has been very helpful in treating it.

The benefits of laser therapy for Liam:

  • It calms and relaxes him
  • He is better focused during competition
  • His energy levels during competitions are extended
  • Injury recovery time is cut in half
LASERwrap Strip

An iliopsoas muscle strain can be a very nagging injury. With proper rest and laser therapy, we cut Liam’s recovery time in half.

I use a human LASERwrap on my own back where I have a degenerative disk issue. It relaxes and relieves pain and swelling. My wife uses the Strip Wrap for a disc issue in her neck and has found it to be just as helpful to her as the LASERwrap is to me.

Are You Interested in the Dock Diving Sport?

If you’re interested in the dock diving sport, Scott recommends reviewing anything online from North America Diving DogsUltimate Air Dogs, or DockDogs. All of these well-known organizations have detailed websites that explain the rules in detail as well as how to get started. We currently compete in two of these organizations and intend to try the third soon. Facebook is also a good resource as these organizations have pages there and post information daily about their events. Also, you can find dock diving clubs on these sites. There may be one near you. When we started participating in the sport, we found a club just 20 minutes away from us. The owners are very knowledgeable, and the people there were very friendly in helping us get started. We also made many great new friends. – Click Here To Ready Scott Dempsy’s Bio

Are You Interested in the Benefits of the Spectra Therapy Canine LASERwrap®?

If you’d like to experience the benefits of the Spectra Therapy Canine LASERwrap® to prepare your canine athlete for competition day, contact Scott Dempsey. He is a distributor for this extremely beneficial tool, and he will gladly answer your questions about it or the sport of dock diving.

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