What to Know About Dock Diving

yellow lab dock diving

Training for dog sports can be a great way to engage a high-energy dog and give them some exercise. There are a lot of dog sports to choose from. If your dog is a good fit, you can train them for them even if you don’t plan on competing. Here’s what to know about dock diving:

What is Dock Diving?

Dock diving, which is also called dock jumping, is a dog sport. In dock diving, dogs jump from a dock into a body of water; usually, they are jumping after a toy to retrieve it. Jumps can be judged by distance, height, or both.

Distance jumping is the most popular version of dock diving, but you will see variations that measure jump height, speed of retrieval, and more. Official and unofficial competition events occur in countries all over the world.

Is Dock Diving Safe for Dogs?

Dock diving is generally safe for dogs. However, it is better suited to some breeds over others and there are some dog breeds that are not a good fit for dock diving. Dock diving requires dogs to be able to handle aerobic exercise well, enjoy the water, be able to swim well, handle the impact of splashing into the water from a height, and more.

Retrievers and other dog breeds that tend to love water also tend to be a good fit for dock diving. Toy breeds, small dog breeds, leaner breeds, and brachycephalic breeds may have a harder time with dock diving and may not be a good fit for it.

Some brachycephalic breeds may do well with dock diving, but you will want to run it by your vet first. In general, it’s a good idea to check with your vet before starting a new activity regardless of the breed to make sure it will be safe for your dog.

How to Get Your Dog Into Dock Diving

If you’re interested in trying dock diving with your dog and your vet has cleared them for the activity, the next step is to start training your dog for this popular dog sport. Here’s how to get your dog into dock diving:

1. Get Them Used to the Water First

If your dog happens to be one of the breeds that love water and already enjoys jumping in and swimming, then you can move on to teaching them to wait and then run and jump in after a toy.

But, if your dog is still new to water, you will want to spend several sessions getting them used to swimming. It’s also a good idea to outfit your dog with a life vest during these training sessions. They won’t be wearing one while competing in official competitions, but it’s a good idea when they are just in the water.

This is also a good time to determine whether dock diving is something your dog will enjoy. After all, if they are not a fan of the water or swimming, dock diving is not a good fit for them and you may want to try a dog sport that does not require water.

2. Teach Them to Fetch While in the Water

If your dog already knows how to fetch, teaching them to fetch a toy while they are in the water should go pretty quickly. If your dog does not know how to fetch yet, you can use a technique similar to teaching your dog how to play frisbee. The difference here is that you are training them to fetch and retrieve while they are in the water.

3. Train Your Dog to Jump in After the Toy

Once your dog is comfortable in the water and has mastered fetching and retrieving a toy while in the water, you can then move on to training them to jump off the dock after the toy.

During these training sessions, you are teaching your dog how to take off from the dock, jump off, and track the toy in the water. At the same time, you are practicing and learning to time your throws correctly and how to place the toy to bring out the best jumps in your dog.

4. Keep Training Sessions Short and Monitor Your Dog

Dock diving should be a fun activity for your dog and you don’t want overly long training sessions to burn them out or bore them. So, keep training sessions to only a couple of times a week and to about 20 minutes or fewer at a time.

This will help keep your dog engaged during training sessions and help keep the activity fun for them. You also want to monitor your dog and stop sessions if they seem like they are getting tired, bored, or uninterested. End the training session on a positive note and then take a break for a while.

These are just a few things to know about dock diving for dogs. It can be a great activity for dogs who like to jump and swim. If dock diving isn’t a great fit for your dog or they just don’t like the water, there are plenty of other dog sports to explore!