Dogs have been “man’s best friend” for over 20,000 years and have served in combat for almost 3,000 years. From sniffing out the enemy and detecting bombs, to providing emotional support in everyday life, dogs have loyally served beside humans through everything – from a bad break-up to multiple historical wars.
There’s no question why you wouldn’t want your dog with you on something as awesome as a skydive – but can dogs go skydiving? Perk up those ears, we’ve got your answer!
CAN DOGS SKYDIVE?
Yes, dogs CAN skydive … with exceptions, of course. Skydiving dogs are not usually a typical pet – most furry sky companions are highly-trained, elite members of tactical units. They can be very useful in specific military operations and also in the effort to hunt down illegal poachers. These dogs are trained and treated as important members of their respective teams.
There have been a few “regular” parachuting pups who have been skydiving with their owners; however, they are few and far between partially due to the lack of enthusiasm from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
SKYDIVING WITH WORKING DOGS
Working dogs can be (and are) trained to skydive alongside their handlers in order to perform highly technical military operations. The military will deploy dogs that are trained by the United States Navy SEALS to parachute into combat situations with a dog skydiving harness either as tandem passengers attached to their handlers or solo with their own puppy parachute (if they will be landing in water).
Skydiving with dogs may require specialized combat gear depending on the specific operation – anything from a kevlar vest to special doggie goggles. (Do you think they call them “doggles”? *bah-duh-tss*) They’ll also sometimes even need supplemental oxygen for specific HALO (high altitude, low opening) jumps!
Skydiving dogs can also be trained to take down harmful poachers. Once the handler spots a poacher, the dogs will jump with their handlers from a helicopter. Upon landing, they use their impressive sense of smell to track down the poacher and bring them to justice. These “super-pups” are instrumental to the conservation and protection of endangered species.
DOG SKYDIVING PARACHUTE HARNESS
There are multiple designs for the military working dog parachute harness. In 2012, Paratec created the Working Dog Freefall Harness, or K9A, which attached to the handler’s harness and left the dog’s legs a’dangling. This design was updated in 2014 to lengthen the harness for more security and comfort for the dog.
In an effort to solve the “dangling legs” problem, the K9F was invented in 2020. This harness was upgraded into a pod-like or sack shape in order to contain the dog’s legs while also being able to lie down in a comfortable position. Almost like a doggie burrito! This position is much more secure and it helps reduce the risk of broken bones from a hard landing.
SKYDIVING WITH CIVILIAN DOGS
It is extremely rare to see fur-babies on a skydive with their fur-parents, not only because it takes a lot of training and reassurance to get the pup to cooperate – but also because the FAA doesn’t exactly LOVE the idea of dogs in the skydiving world.
However, there are a few examples – like Riley, the dachshund, who made a skydive with their owner, Nathan Batiste, over sunny California. Or the 75 pound doberman, Duke, who made a total of FOUR skydives with his owner, Alex Coker. Both owners of the parachuting pups are VERY experienced skydivers.
No, though skydiving with dogs is paws-sible, it is not for everyday pets. Skydiving with a dog isn’t something that is readily available to just anyone. It requires a dog with a calm temperament; an unconditional bond/understanding between dog and owner; specifically customized dog-friendly equipment; and a handler with a ton of skydiving experience. This is why you usually only see skydiving dogs on the military/working side of things.
CAN I BRING MY DOG TO THE DROPZONE?
The dropzone can be a bit overstimulating as there is a lot going on pretty much ALL of the time – it isn’t exactly an ideal environment for most dogs. It could be pretty ruff for your pet, especially if they’re not used to being around airplanes or a lot of people in general. While we wish we could meet and love on your furry friend at Long Island Skydiving Center, we advise you to please leave your pet at home!