Beginner’s Guide to Dock Diving

Dock diving, sometimes called dock jumping, is a fascinating canine sport where dogs leap from dogs into bodies of water. Similar to a long jump in track and field, the measurement of the dog’s jump determines the winner.

Whether you’ve seen it performed in person, on TV, or seen clips online, it’s easy to see how it would be fun to train your dog in dock jumping. Lucky for you, you can train your dog to enjoy dock diving!

What is Dock Diving

Dock diving first appeared at the 1997 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, and soon become a popular hits among both sports fans and dog lovers. Three years later, the event was televised on ESPN.

Dock divers requires a dog and a human handler. Together, the two work and train to get the dog to jump as far from the dock into the water as possible. To incentivize the dog to leap into the water, typically the handler will throw a ball or toy for them to leap after. There are a few different variety of dock diving that take different measurements to crown their winner. The most popular competition measures the length of the jump, but some measure the height of the dogs jump or the speed in the dog reaches as they approach their jump.

The rules of dock diving provide each team a few tries at the dock. How many jumps and how often a team competes varies from competition to competition, but all events have openings for teams of varied experience levels. The size of the docks are approximately 40 feet long and 8 feet wide to ensure that there is plenty of room for the dog to get a running start at their leap.
The size of the pool can vary, but is typically 21 feet long by 9 feet wide to provide the dogs with enough space and depth to land safely. Pools have the measurements labeled on the side so that judges can score the jump and observers can appreciate how far a dog has jumped. Large events use cameras and sensors to accurately measure the precise distance.

What’s a good jump?

Beginner jumps range between two and nine feet. Some of the most talented dog divers that compete at the highest levels can leap an incredible thirty feet!

Official competitions do not restrict particular breeds of dogs from competing, however most of the dogs are labrador retrievers. Of course, if you dog is averse to water or doesn’t know how to swim, dock diving is not the sport for them.

How to Train Your Dog to Dock Dive

If your dog loves to swim, you should be able to train them to dock dive pretty easily. If they haven’t swam before, here’s some tips on introducing them to water. The first step is teach your dog how to fetch, if they don’t already know how. Some dogs will instinctively know how to fetch, you simply need to work on voice commands and teaching your dog to bring the object you throw back to them.

Once your dog has fetch down, it’s time to add water. More than likely you’re not going to have a swimming pool available to you to practice, so usually you need to contact a dock diving organization in your area to inquire about finding practice time for you and your dog. Once you find some water to practice in, you’re going to want to start by walking your pup down to the water to show them it’s safe. Splash a bit of water on him so he knows what it is. A clear and clean pool is going to be odd for you dog to see, as lakes or ponds they may have experience swimming in are dark and murky by comparison.

After you introduce them to the water, take them to the dock and let them get a feel for the length by walking the entire distance with them. When they seem comfortable, get in position and give the ball a toss. Your dog will likely leap after it without further instruction. From there, work on your throws to encourage your dog to leap further each time.

Learn More About Training Your Dog at PetPlace

Teaching your dog to dock dive is a great way to bond with your furry little friend, as well as give them tremendous exercise. At PetPlace, we have plenty more information about dog training and obedience for you to check out.