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[Paws & Awws] Does Your Dog LOVE Water and Playing Fetch?

By — One of many Dog Breeds blogs on

Dock Diving, also referred to as Dock Jumping, might be a great sport for your dog to participate in if they do indeed LOVE water and playing fetch!

What is Dock Diving?

A multifaceted type of dog sport in which they compete by jumping for distance, height, or speed from a dock into a body of water.

Dock diving competitions are held in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

Who Can Participate?

As long as they LOVE water, any dog can compete; and yes, retrievers tend to be the breed choice for this competitive sport.

Although any dog, of any breed type over 6 months old is welcome to compete, it is not recommended for young puppies or geriatric dogs. They will tire easily and show signs of exhaustion more then an adult dog in their prime. Organizations/Event Coordinators require that a dog's vaccinations are up-to-date, and the dog must be friendly towards other dogs and strangers.

How do I train my dog?

First, your dog must LOVE water. Playing fetch is a great way to train a dog, and prepare for the competitions. Your furry kid should want to naturally jump off an object (boat, dock, or floater) and into the water without hesitation. But don't worry, if your puppy or dog hesitates, here are some training tips to help teach your dog the dock diving skills it will need to compete.

Never, ever, just pick up your dog and throw them in the water to see if they take to the water and sport. This is a sport that is all about the dogs LOVE of water!

Introduce your puppy or dog to water slowly by allowing them to experience it at their own pace.

Have a Pool:

A pool is a great place to start; it is clean and free of parasites.; Make sure to provide steps or a ramp for easy in and out access. Limit the amount of time your dog spends in the pool as chlorinated water can dry out their skin and make sure they aren't drinking the water, as it can cause illness. Make sure to provide a bowl of fresh clean water by the pool for them to drink out of and once your dog is done playing in the pool rinse them off with chlorine free water.

Going to the Lake:

If you take your dog to a lake, be aware of the dangers that lakes can harbor, such as glass and other debris on the beach, parasites in the water, and certain forms of algae that can be extremely dangerous to a dog. You may want to get your dog use to wearing protective booties on their paws to prevent any type of injury.

Grab a Favorite Toy and Lets Get Started!

Yes, using your dog's FAVORITE toy is the way to go. Get excited about the game you and your dog are about to play, if your dog sees you excited, they will get just as excited.

Take their favorite toy and make a big deal out of this toy, showing it to them, squeaking it (if it has a squeaker), and gently teasing them with it (encouraging them to want the toy). Play a little tug of war game, tell your dog to "release" or "drop it" and then put the toy close to the water. Repeat steps over and over until the toy is touching the water. If you dog hesitates at any time, STOP and go back to where they were most comfortable in relation to the water. Be patient as it could take time to encourage your dog to go close to the water. You can use treats to reward your dog each time they get closer to the body of water. Make a big deal as they make these baby step accomplishments.

Once your dog goes into the water to retrieve the toy, your dog is ready for the next step.

Throwing the Toy in the Water

Now is the time to start introducing a dock or a pool deck that has no steps or ramp. Soon your dog will be racing at a high speed and jumping powerfully into the water to retrieve their favorite toy!

The Sport

Dock Diving was first introduced competitively in 1997, and is now an ESPN televised event!

The dock size is usually around 35 to 40 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, and 2 ft. above the water. This may differ between each event holder/organization. Any type of water or pool that is at least 4 ft. deep can be used. The dock should be covered in artificial turf, carpet, or some type of rubber mat for traction and safety for the dogs and handlers.

The starting point can be anywhere on the dock.

Measuring the Distance

The jumping distance is measured, by most organizations, from the end of the dock point to where the dog's tail and body meet once the tail hits the water.; Most organizations use freeze-framing electronically to measure the jumps, but some judge manually.

Each team can take two jumps, and the longer of the two jumps is the score for that team. Having a dog prematurely jump from the dock prior to hitting the edge can cost a team some measuring distance because the judging is from the edge of the dock, not where the dog leaves the dock. If using a toy, the jump is only official when the toy leaves the handler's hand. However, the dog is not expected to retrieve the toy for the score to count.

Two Techniques

Place and Send

This technique is when the handler walks their dog to the end of the dock, and holds the dog back while throwing a toy into the water. Then they walk the dog back to their starting point, ";place" the dog, then "send" (release) the dog to go retrieve the toy. This technique is often used for dogs that are NOT trained to wait or stay in place on the dock.


This technique is used when a dog is trained to wait or stay in place on the dock at its starting point. The handler walks to the end of the dock holding their toy, calls the dog, and throws the toy. So the dog "chases" the toy by jumping into the body of water. The toy is kept just enough in front of the dog's nose to encourage optimal launching of their body at the right angle off of the dock. This technique is extremely difficult to train, and even harder to master. A dog that is toy-obsessed, can usually learn this type of technique easily.

Three Events

Extreme Vertical - Measures how high the dog's leap is. The dog launches upward in order to knock down a bumper suspended over the water. The starting point is 20 ft. from the end of the dock.; The runs are shorter, and the speed is reduced, this is so the dog is able to achieve maximum height about 8 ft. from the dock.

Speed Retrieve - The dog is racing against the clock. Each dog competes by running, jumping, swimming and retrieving an object located on an extender at the end of the pool. The distance is 58 feet and a 20 foot mark on the dock.

Big Air - Measures how long the dog's jump is. These dogs catapult themselves at speeds over 20 mph at the end of a 40 foot dock into a body of water and retrieve an object.

The current champions holding the titles for these three events are:


Baxter - Breed, Belgian Malinois

Owner, Tony Lampert

Distance: 29 ft. 7 in.


Yeager - Breed, Belgian Malinois

Owner, Dave Skoletsky

Height: 8 ft. 1.7 in.


Remi - Breed, Mix

Owner, Tom Dropik

Time: 4.78 seconds

Do you think your dog has what it takes to become a dock diving champ? Fantastic! Get your wet suit on, let the training begin, and have fun! This will be a great sport for you and your dog to bond over and enjoy. Maybe your dog could be the next Baxter of Big Air, Yeager of Extreme Vertical, or Remi of Speed Retrieve!


Dog Channel - Train Your dog to dock jump

St. Louis Magazine - Taking a Dive Baxter the Dock Diver

Wiki - Dock Jumping

Bark by Plungers

Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition, by Kristin Mehus-Roe

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