Diving For Dogs: What is Dock Diving?

From the Doglando Archives: Let’s Explore Dog Dock Diving

Dock Diving is an extremely fun sport for dogs and their handlers, and it’s a great way to spend some quality time with your dog, all while they exercise their mind and body.

We’ve done formal dock diving competitions at Doglando before, but we also incorporate this fun activity into our daily enrichment curriculum. Many of our Doglando Dogs love jumping into the water. As you’ll see in the photos, dock diving is something that any type of dog can do successfully.

The concept is simple enough: a dog runs down a 40 foot dock, jumping off of that dock and into a pool or pond. The handler’s job is to motivate that dog enough to get them to jump as high or as far as they possibly can. This is achieved by either throwing a toy as the dog is running so that the dog sees it and chases it into the pool, or by throwing that toy into the pool and then restraining the dog at the end of the dock so that they can run into the pool after it. You’ll see a ton of different variations at dock diving events.

How can I get my dog to Dock Dive?

There’s a lot to Dock Diving, including technique and throwing ability, but also drive. Drive is your dog’s desire to actually jump in and get that toy.

Many handlers start simply, using short throws and a ramp before gradually progressing to jumping off of the actual dock.

Here’s a basic progression you might follow with your own pup:

  • Throw the toy close to “shore” so that the dog can get it from the ramp or steps.
  • Get your dog excited to get that toy! The more drive and excitement they have, the more you can progress.
  • Eventually, throw the toy far enough away that your dog has to go off the dock to retrieve it.

Of course, the actual training will depend on you and your dog!

Ideally, you’ll start teaching and enabling resiliency with new experiences for your dog from puppyhood (swimming is one of the things we teach in Puplando classes, for example). Exposing your puppy to things like water at a young age is the ideal way to help your dog discover a love for swimming.

Remember, if you go from Dock Diving at home to a Dock Diving event, your dog might balk at first. It could be the new environment (including strange noises, scents, and more), or even your own stress. Whatever the cause, you always need to do what’s in your dog’s best interest. We’ve seen plenty of handlers pull their pups from competitions, and that’s 100% okay.

Using Dock Diving to grow with your dog

It’s nice to get ribbons and see your dog out-jump the competition, but the best part about Dock Diving is the fun you’ll have with your canine companion. That’s what is great about this sport, is that you can really get into the fun of it with your dog.

Dock Diving events

Want to give Dock Diving a go? Here are some resources that will help you find an event near you:

North America Diving Dogs

Dock Dogs

Is your pup a water dog, or would they rather stay on dry ground? Have you ever tried Dock Diving? Let’s talk about our furry best friends in the comments!