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Diving Dogs: Everything You Need to Know About Dock Diving

If your dog loves leaping into water or soaring through the air to fetch their favorite toy, dock diving might be the perfect sport for them! This high-energy activity is like a short-distance triathlon for dogs, combining sprinting, leaping, and swimming. Here’s everything you need to know about this exciting sport and how to get started with your pup.

What Is Dock Diving?

Dock diving involves dogs sprinting down a platform and leaping into a body of water to retrieve a toy. The dog that jumps the farthest or highest before making a splash wins. It's a fantastic mental and physical workout for water-loving dogs and provides a fun, safe environment for them to chase and retrieve. Dock diving also allows you and your dog to meet other enthusiasts and their pups.

Can All Dogs Dock Dive?

Dock diving is suitable for most dogs, from puppies (at least 6 months old) to senior dogs, with many competitions offering special heats for older dogs. However, not all dogs may enjoy or be suited for this sport. Dogs with natural retrieval and swimming instincts, like Labrador Retrievers and Portuguese Water Dogs, are often well-suited for dock diving. But any dog that loves water and fetching can participate.

How To Train Dogs for Dock Diving

Dock diving is one of the easiest canine sports to train for, especially if your dog already knows how to swim. Training can start with "land work," where you practice basic skills like toy retrieval on dry land. This builds your dog's confidence and awareness before they hit the water.

Many dogs naturally enjoy running and jumping into the water, but it's not uncommon for some to plop into the water rather than soar. If your dog is hesitant, practicing with another dog that loves to leap can help. Watching and mimicking another dog can quickly teach them the ropes. Dock diving classes and one-on-one training sessions are also available to help your dog get started.

Dog Diving Gear

Unlike some other dog sports, dock diving doesn't require much gear. Here are a few essentials:

  • High-reward, water-safe toy: Choose a toy that doesn’t require your dog to open their mouth too wide to avoid swallowing water.

  • Doggie life jacket: Essential for beginners, dogs learning to swim, or brachycephalic breeds.

  • Quick-dry towel: Useful for drying your dog’s ears to prevent infections.

  • Waterproof collar: Keeps your dog's identification tags safe.

  • Leash: Required when not actively competing.

Getting Involved in Dog Diving Competitions

If your dog enjoys dock diving, consider joining a club. Organizations like North American Diving Dogs (NADD) and DockDogs offer training sessions and competitions. To qualify for regional and national events, your dog will need to earn points at club events.

Safety Considerations

Before starting dock diving, consult your veterinarian. High-impact sports aren't advisable for puppies still growing or dogs not in good health. If your dog isn't a strong swimmer or has brachycephalic airway syndrome, additional precautions like using a life jacket are recommended. Dogs in heat or those who have been in heat within the last 30 days are not permitted to participate in competitions.

By following these guidelines and consulting your vet, you and your dog can enjoy dock diving safely and have a blast in the water. For more information and resources, visit

dog diving off dock
dog diving off dock


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