Why Dash N Splash is helping soggy canines stay fit
Working dogs have long been associated with water – from rescue dogs to gun dogs – but their companion cousins are also now getting in on the act.
America leads the way in water-based canine sports, with its Canine Water Sports Organisation, and popular dock jumping competitions; but British pooches are now set to follow suit, with the introduction to the UK of Dash N Splash.
“Dash N Splash was conceived after watching the Incredible Dog Challenge in North America, where canine dock jumping – literally long jumping from a specially built dock into water – is popular,” says Anton Wittwer of Dash N Splash creators, MDS Events. “Dash N Splash is a similarly crowd-pleasing event involving a doggy long jump into water. The dogs are gradually introduced to a dock or ramp – some are naturals, while others take more gentle coercion – to retrieve a toy from a large pool of water. The dogs leap into a 40ft long, 4ft purpose-built pool, and the length of the jump is digitally measured. They compete at qualifying shows for prizes and rosettes, as well as a chance to gain the UK and European Dash ‘N’ Splash record and trophy.”
Good for canine orthopaedic and muscular conditions
Of course, while this event is undoubtedly fun for spectators and entrants alike, there’s a more serious side – swimming in water is very good for canine orthopaedic and muscular conditions, and as an activity, distributes less concussive forces to the animal’s body than many other land-based, agility forms of exercise. Naturally, a high or very long jump into the water should only be performed by fit and healthy canines – in fact, it can be a great showcase of the athletic ability of a fit dog – however, the handler must throw the dog’s toy into the water at a distance that matches the animal’s fitness level, when it is new to the event. However, for a fitter animal that is used to the concept, Dash ‘N’ Splash can be excellent exercise, and can promote muscle tone and cardiovascular stamina. For obese dogs that are introduced to Dash N Splash gradually, it can help with their general fitness as part of a nutritional and exercise regime.
28ft – close to the human world record
Dash ‘N’ Splash was a roaring success when it was launched in the UK in 2009 by MDS Events, with many agility dogs doing well in the contest. The sport is also ideal for dogs that do not maintain such a high level of fitness as agility team dogs, as the individual event takes place quickly, and the training can be minimal. The current British record holder is Dash, a Labrador-pointer cross from Newmarket, Suffolk, with a leap of 28ft – close to the human world record. In 2009, up to 700 dogs at a time entered Dash N Splash contests held across England.
Cross breeds can make the best jumpers
According to Anton Witter, cross breeds can make the best long jumpers, as they tend have long legs and a retriever instinct. “Some dogs run straight into the water, but most will do it while retrieving a toy. The worse that can happen is the dog will change its mind – but most love jumping in. “This spring, Dash N Splash is making an appearance at Only Paws and Horses, the South East of England’s newest equestrian and canine event. It takes place over the bank holiday weekend of 30th to 31st May 2010 at Kent’s popular Hop Farm. The inaugural show also features agility, Cani Cross, Flyball and a companion dog show; at the K9 Aqua Zone, dogs can get used to water sports before venturing into an actual Dash N Splash event. Visit www.onlypawsandhorses.co.uk to book tickets, or for info.
Could Dash N Splash replicate the best-known marketing initiative in the pet industry?
There are also commercial opportunities to be had as Dash N Splash grows in stature. The inspiration for Dash N Splash, America’s Incredible Dog Challenge, is sponsored by Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is renowned as being one of the most popular and well-known marketing initiatives in the pet industry. Its events have been viewed by well over a billion people worldwide. Forward-thinking canine companies could see their brand being associated with a similar campaign in the UK, as Dash N Splash gathers pace. In addition, the sport is also helping to promote good, old fashioned family days out and active past times. Ideal for summer days out, and for families looking to get more active, and reduced the risk factors for ill health – both in themselves, and their canine friends. Companies are invited to get involved with sponsoring individual Dash N Splash attractions or arenas at shows; great for awareness within the animal-loving community. Call 01730 266633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2010, the Dash N Splash team is taking a new training pool on the road, and is developing a Dash N Splash league with classes for different dogs, such as veterans. This could be an ideal time to join a new canine activity as it sweeps the nation, and help your hound enjoy good health and positive, mental stimulation. Visit: www.dashnsplash.co.uk for information.
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