Shirley Williams of Van Buren has offered some tips on how to start a dog in dock diving for those who wish to participate in the Van Buren Rotary Club’s Dog Days.
The event is scheduled for June 6-7 at the Van Buren High School track and football training field, next to the high school at 2001 E. Pointer Trail.
Other dog day activities will include fastest dog contest, obedience and agility demonstrations and Arkansas State Police canine drug enforcement demonstrations.
Local rescue groups also will have dogs available for adoptions.
"The very first step to teach a dog to dock dive is to find a dog toy that will float and see if you can peak your dog’s interest in the toy," Williams said.
If the dog will chase after the toy, then that is a good first start, she said.
"Then go to a pool, stream or lake, anywhere there is water and see if the dog will chase the toy into the water, Williams said.
She suggested starting close to the edge and keep progressing a little further out each time.
"Keep it exciting with lots of encouragement," Williams said. "Once the dog has to swim to get the toy you are well on your way to having a dock diver."
When a dog owner is confident their dog can swim, Williams said to find a ledge where the dog can do just a short jump.
"The side of the pool works well or a short bluff into a stream," she said. "If your dog loves the toy enough to jump into the water, then it’s time to find a dock. You just have to keep at it with them. The more they love their toy and the more they find themselves in the water swimming for it, the more confidence they will gain."
Then it just becomes second nature to them to jump for it, Williams said.
"Most dogs love doing it and will beg to play the game over and over," she said. "You and your dog can come to the Van Buren Rotary Club Dog Days and do a "practice jump" for just $10. The time of the practice jumps will not be known until the day of the event. They will probably be after competition ends on Saturday."
In May 2014, the American Kennel Club began recognizing the sport of dock diving and awarding dock diving titles to dogs once they have completed different levels of competition.
Trainer Crystal McClaren and her dog Bo hold the world record of 26 feet in the North America American Kennel Club diving dog championship.
Arkansas Parks and Tourism will promote the local event as a tie-in to its "Barkansas" campaign, promoting Arkansas as a pet friendly state.
"This event is free to spectators so the whole family can come, even the canine family members," Williams said.
All profits from the event will be used to continue the ongoing community service provided by the Van Buren Rotary Club.
"Our long term goal with this event is to raise money to help with the construction of the Lee Creek Park area and provide a public dog park for Van Buren," Williams said.