Dock Diving

Does your dog love water and love to retrieve? Then you should know about the sport of dock diving. Here’s how to safely introduce your dog to it, and where to find groups and competitions.

Bob Ryder, PMCT, CPDT-KA
6-minute read
Episode #199

Tip #4: Be a Good Citizen

I don’t need to tell you to make sure you have permission to use the dock, and to obey local leash laws, do I?

Tip #5: Make Sure Your Dog’s a Good Swimmer

Finally, please be sure your dog is a good swimmer. Many dogs with short legs and/or massive upper bodies just can’t swim well no matter how much they might want to, and a dog of any breed – yes, even a Labrador Retriever! – may simply not care for the water. If that’s your pal, pick another sport that she’s more inclined to enjoy.

Winning Isn’t Everything – and It Sure Isn’t the Only Thing

One of my favorite things about dock diving is that, like agility, it really is a dog-and human team sport. Both partners need skills that contribute to success. And almost anyone can do it, even with a tiny little dock that slopes down and doesn’t look official, such as the one in this video.

In some official competitions, teams are scored on variations including horizontal distance, vertical leap, and the fastest retrieve. But – and I love this – you don’t need to have any previous status in the sport to participate. You can just find an event within traveling distance, sign up, and be a part of the fun. Daisy and I plan to take part in our first official competition this year. Two of the organizations I’ve found that move their competitions from place to place are Splash Dogs and Dock Dogs.

Winning isn’t all that important to me, and it’s a safe bet the dogs are clueless about the measurements of their dives or their standings in comparison to other dogs. For my part, the only requirement is that Daisy is happy and confident – values I first heard articulated by agility trainers extraordinaire Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh. If Daisy and I are both having fun, that’s all that matters. But some teams are very competitive, practicing every day for months, maybe even all year long if they live where weather permits and have access to a dock. If you and your best friend are driven to be the best, and you can have fun and be safe in the process, why not let it fly? Maybe you’ll end up on ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games.

You can email me at bob@pawstrans.com, and look me up on Facebook under Pawsitive Transformations. Jolanta is The Dog Trainer on Facebook, and you can write to her at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. She welcomes your comments and suggestions, and although she usually can’t reply individually, she may use your question as the basis for a future episode.

Thanks to Jolanta for inviting me to guest host this episode, and thank you for listening. Now go find a dock and start building that hang time, baby! On your mark, get set…


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Dock Dive image from Shutterstock