Dixie Dock Dogs
What: Dock Diving 101 course
Where: Lanier Harbor Marina
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What to bring: To participate, you need a 4-foot leash, a water dish, a bouyant, non-edible toy to throw in the water and a bag to clean up after pets. Dogs must be at least 6 months old and current on all shots.
Some dogs are natural born swimmers.
Those that love the water can take their swimming skills to the next level this Saturday at the Dixie Dock Dogs' Dock Diving 101 seminar at Lake Harbor Marina.
Dock diving is a popular sport where dog owners throw a toy into a pool for their dogs to chase into the water.
The dogs are ranked on their ability to jump the highest, the farthest and swim the fastest.
Dock diving contests are often televised on ESPN and other networks. The Dixie Dock Dogs will be holding a regional, sanctioned competition as the featured event at Lake Lanier Pet Fest, a fundraiser for the Hall County Animal Shelter on Sept. 25 and 26.
"We know there's a lot of people in that Lake Lanier area that are very interested in Dock Dogs and so we thought we would have a training day for them and let them bring their dogs out and give it a try ... in hopes that they will come out to the competition at Pet Fest," said Nancy Akin, publicity and membership chair for the Dixie Dock Diving Dogs.
Akin said the most popular event is "big air" where dogs compete for the longest jump.
Each team, composed of one handler and one dog, is placed in a division with other teams of similar skill level.
"It makes it a little more fair," Akin said. "It's structured so that everyone has a chance to have their dog compete."
Dogs that can dive at least one inch and up to 10 feet into the water are placed into the novice division. The top divers, who can leap at least 25 feet out into the water, compete in the super elite division.
"It's all about getting the local people bringing their dogs out and giving it a try," Akin said. "It's so much fun. Anybody can participate."
Akin said training all depends on the dog. Some dogs leap out into the pool on their first try, while others are more hesitant and may stand at the edge of the dock and bark.
"The two things a dog really needs is to like the water and a drive to retrieve," Akin said. "Any training you can do won't happen over night."
On Saturday, Akin said there will be coaches on hand to teach different techniques and disciplines.
The Dixie Dock Dogs is the only sanctioned club of the national organization Dock Dogs Inc. in Georgia. Akin and her husband started the club in 2008 and now have 65 members and 61 dogs in the club.
Hall County Public Safety Director Marty Nix said the dock dogs will be an exciting way to raise money and awareness for the animal shelter at Pet Fest.
"We decided, we need to bring something in that people will be interested in," Nix said. "Everybody does golf tournaments and cook-offs. This is just going to be something our area has been lacking.
"We can show people in the community how talented these animals are and how smart these animals are."