Pool or no pool, there are perks to dryland training to help your dog progress in this sport. Here are the 5 biggest reasons to use dryland training!
Most dock diving enthusiasts don't have access to a pool 24/7, which means sometimes people struggle with figuring out how to progress in the sport. For us, with our super short pool season, learning to train skills away from the dock has been important so that we can make the most of our actual pool time-but we've also learned that there are perks to using dryland training even during our summer months! Here are 5 of the biggest perks to dryland training and how
Build your dog's skills in reasonable progressions. Clearly, this is the biggest reason you want to work on dryland skills. Breaking the different pieces of a dock diving game into smaller bits that you can train allows your dog to grow each foundation layer to fluency- which is something you can't do if you just show up and start jumping. With good foundation skills, you'll find it easier to set your dog up in a precise starting position- for more consistent striding; your dog jumps bigger and more confidently; swims faster, turns sharper, wastes less energy fighting you over toys, is safer and recovers better after events- and all of this means more fun (and long term success) for you both!
Target skills that are new to your dog (and you!) When you get to the pool, you'll soon see that not all dogs have the same background! Some dogs have done lots of swimming and water retrieves but refuse to let go of the toy. Others may have great toy skills, but are low in the confidence department. Some dogs have toy skills, and an obscene amount of confidence, but are clumsy as heck. People skills vary too and this is definitely a team sport. A throw style that comes easy to one person, may feel very awkward to another handler. Dryland training also allows you to get a 'feel' for timing that is really critical when you are on the dock- but on dryland, there is a much bigger margin for experimentation and error. Why tinker on the dock if you can work out the kinks before hand? Dryland training allow you to customize the training to suit you and your dog's natural strengths and weaknesses, building confidence and teamwork.
Develop sport specific fitness. Dock diving uses muscles differently than many other sports. Dryland conditioning allows your dog to build the strength, balance, and coordination to get powerful jumps and decrease the likelihood of injury. Don't be a weekend warrior- train off the dock to keep your dog strong and fit!
Avoid over-arousal at the dock. If the only time you train dock diving skills is at the dock, you're definitely going to be at risk of building some crazy into those behaviors. Most dogs get really excited about this sport and that level of excitement doesn't lend ideally to learning- but even when it does, the excitement becomes part of the behavior and continues to spiral. By training the skills away from the dock, you can build in a little more thoughtfulness and self-control, and transfer that feeling to the dock, too!
Make the most of your pool time. When you put time into dryland training, your dogs skills grow such that when you are at the pool, you can spend more time at the pool actually dock diving! If you are currently spending time trying to get the toy back from our dog because they play keep away or won't let go, if you have to spend time begging your dog to jump, or begging them to get out of the pool- if you find yourself having to reset your dog a hundred times because they break their stay on the dock- these are skills that can be trained and maintained with dryland training. If you can't practice air retrieve or hydrodash or related skills without a helper to set things up for you, or a side kick at the end of the pool to get your dog's attention- you can fix that too! With the right set of skills, your dog can be better prepared during their dock rental times for better practices and that will help you get better results in competition too!
Erin Lynes is the owner and trainer at Eromit AIRcademy - the first permanent facility to be NADD sanctioned in Canada- located in Quesnel, BC. Erin is a KPA Certified Training Partner, a Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Instructor and has been competing in dock diving since 2013 (and other dog sports since 1990!) She has trained dogs who have become Canadian Champions in Xtreme Air Dogs and North America Diving Dog events, and has set records in Distance, Vertical and combined events. Her student dogs have set pool records, earned national championships, and been awarded top honors for best in breed in various dock diving events.
For a full program on dryland training that will help improve your dog's jumps or give your new dog a great foundation, check out her upcoming online class at FDSA!