How to Train a Dog in Dock Diving

Some dogs take to dock diving with relative ease.
Some dogs take to dock diving with relative ease. (Image: jfmichurski/iStock/Getty Images)

Dock diving is a fun event for dogs who love to chase and to swim. Competitions are designed for getting a dog to jump as far or as high as possible into a pool of water, to retrieve a toy thrown by her owner. Although most water retrieving dogs excel at dock diving, any dog can be trained to participate in the sport.

Things You'll Need

  • Retrieving bumper or other floating toy
  • Boat dock or dock diving pool
  • Adjustable hurdles (optional)

Introduce Your Dog to Water

Bring your dog to a creek, a lake or another body of water. Your dog should be able to walk into and out of the water with ease. Guide her in and out of the water as needed.

Play games with your dog in the shallow water. Introduce your dog’s dock-diving toy into the games as she grows comfortable with the water.

Ask your dog to retrieve the toy. Gradually increase the distance of the retrieve and the depth of the water until she is comfortable with swimming and retrieving.

Introduce Your Dog to the Dock

Introduce your dog to the pool exit ramp or boat ramp before bringing her onto the dock. She should be allowed to become comfortable in the shallow water before being brought to the dock.

Allow your dog to step onto the dock. If you are using a floating boat dock to train, she might feel uncomfortable with its movement under her feet.

Bring your dog to the end of the dock. Tease her with her toy until she becomes excited and wants to catch it.

Drop your dog’s toy into the water. Encourage her to retrieve her toy. Jump into the water and coax her in if she is reluctant to jump or slide into the water.

Refine Your Technique

Practice tossing your dog’s toy for her to catch while on dry land. Begin by tossing it to her, then tossing it a short distance ahead of her for her to chase and catch. Gradually increase the distance of your toss, encouraging her to catch the toy as you do so.

Introduce her to running and jumping after the toy on the dock. This activity will have a different sound and sensation, which might surprise her at first. Let her adjust to the dock before tossing her toy from it.

Repeat the process of gradually increasing toss distance from the end of the dock. Back her up from the end of the dock, increasing wait time as well as distance. Encourage your dog to chase the toy as you throw it into the water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lie on the dock and splash water on the toy, speaking in an excited voice, to encourage your dog to chase it.
  • After she has started jumping in the water on her own, have a helper hold your dog a short distance from the end of the dock, while you entice her with the toy. Have your helper release your dog when she begins to show excitement and toss the toy into the water when she is running toward you.
  • The clear water of a dock diving pool will look different to your dog than the water in a lake or a pond. If you have been training in a natural body of water, try to introduce your dog to a clear pool before competing with her.
  • Train your dog to increase the distance of her jumps on dry land, over hurdles.
  • Training your dog to jump into the air as she launches herself from the dock will help her increase the distance of her jump.
  • Dock diving requires a lot of exertion. Have a veterinarian examine your dog before starting to train.
  • It is unsafe to push or to throw your dog into the water. Do not do it.
  • Do not jump your dog too much, especially in early training. Even very athletic dogs get fatigued with too much jumping and swimming.

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