What is Dock Diving for Dogs?

This article answers the question What is Dock Diving for Dogs? A water sport where dogs are judged on how far or high, they jump from a dock into a body of water. This sport is also referred to as “Dog Jumping”. Dogs can compete in either jumping for distance, height, or a timed event. 

If your dog has a toy drive and loves the water, then she will most likely love dock diving. However, even if your dog doesn’t like water, you can work with her to build her confidence in the water. Many dogs do not like being in the water or even getting wet. However, if you are patient, you may gradually get your dog to enjoy being in the water.

The Dock and the Pool

A diving dock must be at least 40 feet long and 7.5 feet wide. The pool must be at least 41 feet long and 21 feet wide. The dock must be covered with artificial turf or some other non-slip surface.

A dog leaping into a lake in dock diving - what is dock diving for dogs?

The dock is 2 feet above the water’s surface at the beginning of the competition. However, this could change as time moves on because of water levels dropping due to evaporation or splashing dogs. A man-made body of water must be at least 4 feet deep, but the depth of natural ponds varies. A dark body of water is water in which you cannot see much below the surface. When dogs dive into dark bodies of water there must be an assurance that no submerged objects could injure dogs.

There are usually 3 different events that dogs can compete in, depending upon the organization that is sponsoring the competition. I have used the DockDogs®organization as an example to describe the events available to participate in. Although there are differences among the various groups, clubs, and organizations sponsoring dock diving, the differences are mostly minor.

The Events

A dog participating in dock diving - What is Dock Diving For Dogs?

Different organizations have different names for the events they sponsor in addition to their own rules for events. For example, the organization DockDogs® calls events Big Air, Extreme Vertical, and Speed Retrieve. Make sure you research the rules for the organization you plan to compete with.

Big Air

The Big Air event is a long jump for dogs. The dog runs down the dock and leaps into the water after a toy that is thrown by the handler. The distance of the jump is judged from the end of the dock to where the base of the tail breaks the water’s surface.

Extreme Vertical

The Extreme Vertical event is a high jump for dogs. Starting at the 20-foot mark on the dock, the dog runs and jumps vertically to snatch a toy suspended over the water.

The toy is suspended 8 feet from the end of the dock at a starting height selected by the handler. The goal is to have the dog grab or knock off the bumper from the rig. Competitors get 2 tries at the specified height and if the jump is successful the bumper height will be increased by 2-inch increments. 

White standard poodle grabbing a toy in a dock diving event - what is dock diving for dogs?

Speed Retrieve

Speed Retrieve is a timed event. A toy is suspended two feet above the water at the far end of the pool where an indicator light is located. Standing at a designated 20-foot point on the dock, the dog starts his run when the indicator light turns green. The time clock stops when the airborne dog leaps up and pulls down the toy.

Rules of Dock Diving

DockDogs®, one organization for dock diving, establishes its competition rules and handles the record books. This helps keep the sport regulated. This independent group sanctions regional, national, and international events.

There are no specific lineage requirements, so purebred dogs compete with mixed-breed dogs. Age restrictions do apply. Handlers must be at least 7 years old and dogs must be at least 6 months old.

To further level the playing field, competitions are divided into divisions that allow dogs to compete with other dogs with similar abilities. The divisions within each organization can be different, so be sure you are familiar with the rules of the organization in which you will be competing. Dog and handler teams are rated within their own division.

Among the divisions are “lapdogs” for small dogs and “veterans” or “legends” classes for senior dogs. A small dog is any dog less than 16 inches at the shoulder. The “open” class is comprised of all dogs that are not small dogs or senior dogs.

How do I Get My Dog Started in Dock Diving?

There are a number of ways to start training your dog in these water sports:

  • Find a club: There are many clubs, dog gyms, and organizations all over the country with the facilities and staff needed to help you to get your dog trained for dock diving. Do an internet search to locate one nearest you.
  •  Network: Another great place to begin is by networking through your local breed-affiliated club. Here you can find other members with similar interests to yours as they have the same breed of dog as you.
  • Go to a location in which you have access to a dock: If you have access to a dock or a nice bank on the shoreline, you can get started with this on your own. Be sure there is no debris or other hazards that your dog can come in contact with to avoid injuries to your dog.

Like any dog competition, it’s important to have fun. And while your dog may not have the physical makeup to set a world record, it’s an amazing journey to watch her maximize the potential inside. 

Before getting started, always consult your veterinarian to be certain your dog is fit for dock diving.

Final Thoughts

Dog sports are a great way to strengthen your bond with your pet through play while also giving her a good workout. Dock diving is no exception to this rule. There is great fun to be had for both you and your dog either competing in dog diving or just practicing the sport for fun.

As long as you and your dog are both enjoying the sport, that is the most important takeaway from this experience.

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