Thank you for hanging out with me! From day to day you never know what life will throw at you. And it will often be this way in my blog as well :) But lest RUN WILD and LIVE FREE in this amazing adventure together!
I have been asked many times how we got started in what we do with our dogs. So lets go back on a little journey together. Jeff and I got married in 2007. I helped him pick out a dog to adopt before we ever got married. He wanted a little dog. Can you imagine him with a little dog? Haha. Neither could I! For anyone who knows him and knows how much into sports and such he is it just didn’t make sense. So we got Rajah.
Rajah was the start of it all. We didn’t have any plans to get involved with dog sports. And I don’t honestly know how we ever learned about dock jumping. But Rajah would sore over waves at the beach and we found out about an event near us in Grand Rapids, MI so we went. He jumped in….once! But it was indoors and he really didn’t know what he was doing, nor did we. That water was ICE cold. So over the rest of the spring we took him to the beach as much as we could cause we were hoked once we really saw what dogs could do and how much fun it was.
Fast forward to June of 2005 and we went to another event on the east side of Michigan and Rajah jumped 19’….needless to say we were hooked. Going from hardly jumping to that was amazing to us. And back in that time that was one of the longest jumps of the weekend. Rajah went on to hold the record for distance jumping for an APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier) for several years with a 23’7” jump and was the first APBT to get an ultimate vertical title.
When Rajah got us hooked, I decided I needed a dog of my own to jump. I didn’t want to just be the dog holder ;) So the search was on. And we decided to get a German Shorthaired Pointer. We could say the rest is history but it really is so much more than that.
I grew up in a home where my dad hunted but I really didn’t and Jeff grew up a home that didn’t hunt at all! Needless to say we have missed more birds than what we have harvested for our table. We quickly fell in love with the breed and with hunting. And eventually we started our breeding program.
Our foundation female, Phoenix, paved the way for our bigger jumping GSPs. In the beginning we had a dog named Moose, who was very picky on if he would jump or not jump. And a little GSP we would call Tiny Tundra. She was a fireball and eventually did jump well. But the big hitter came in Phoenix. Phoenix is now 10 (at the writing of this) and is still doing amazing in dock jumping. I think I will highlight each dog in their own post someday.
Many people will ask us how we train our dogs to dock jump. We are blessed to have a pond in our own back yard. So we start our dogs as young puppies in getting them confident in swimming and often times this does mean one of us putting our waders on and going in the pond to help a puppy gain their confidence.
Once this is established we will start taking hem to various places to swim so that their water drive is there no matter the location. We then will progress to things like docks at lakes and jumping off of them. We do have a dock at our pond as well that we start on. But our pond gets very shallow in the summer so our time to be able to work on that is very short lived.
The biggest key once the toy drive and water love is there is to find an event to go to. Dogs often who jump in the pond or lake will not jump in a pool. A dog can’t tell that the clear water of a pool is water. And to them it looks like a big blue thing they are jumping into. So proper introduction at an event is key. You may even spend money to work on proper introduction and never get a true jump in. It all depends on the dog. At an event the biggest thing is to take them up and down the exit ramp to swim as much as possible until they are leaping off the exit ramp to go for their toy. At this point you can go up to the dock and start working there. But this often takes quite a few exposures.
I will leave this post here on just the introduction to the dock and events. There are many small details that go into each dog. And each dog is different as well in their technique and how they need to be handled.
To start, the biggest thing is get your dog loving water, pick a toy that is ONLY for that event and it will make them excited every time they see it, take your dog out in public and to busy events (dog or otherwise) as much as possible as dock jumping events tend to draw a brig crowd, then introduce them to the ramp and the dock. But most of all….BE PATIENT. Don’t get frustrated or go in with the idea of your dog jumping the same way they jump at a lake or pond and have FUN. Your dog doesn’t care how far they jump. They don’t know. They just want to have FUN! So celebrate the small victory. Be crazy excited and act crazy stupid. It will make your dog wiggle their tail and their whole body and they will be smiling right back at you!
You can always check out our dogs on our website or Facebook page as well.