There isn’t a lot of training required to get your dog ready for diving off docks. While it is true that there are certain breeds of dogs that are naturally better at swimming than others, almost all dogs can do this, provided they are in good physical condition.
Dock diving isn’t the same as teaching your dog commands so they can move around obstacles in a competition. You will, however, need to make sure that your dog is experienced when it comes to swimming so they are familiar and comfortable with it. Here’s a great guide to get started with dock diving.
Take the time to get your dog familiar with swimming by getting them into your pool and fetching toys for you on a regular basis until they have gained enough confidence. If you are dog is still completely new to swimming, it is important that you get them in the water before actually going to a dock jump event of any kind.
You can also take your dog to ponds and lakes to get them familiar with swimming. Take one of their favorite floatable toys and have them get it for you by going into the water.
Make sure that you maintain an upbeat and energetic attitude when you are getting your dog used to the water, because it is important that they receive the proper encouragement. Start your dog out with retrieving toys in shallow waters, because you will not want to overwhelm them when first starting out by throwing them into the deep end, so to speak.
Eventually your dog will get used to fetching the toys you throw in shallow water, which is when you can move on to deeper bodies of water.
You will want to throw the toy far enough to where your dog has to swim a little bit to get it but not so far that they will easily tire. When you take your dog to their first dock jumping event, you will want to introduce them to the exit ramp to start off. It is very important that they get familiar with the exit ramp, as it is where they will be jumping off when the competition officially starts.
Showing your dog the water from the ramp will help them with getting in, because it will most likely be so clear that they will have trouble seeing once they are actually in the water.
When you take your dog to the dock, you will want to start off with some short throws, starting about 5-10 feet back from the very edge of the dock. Your ultimately goal here is to build the dog’s confidence so when the time comes it will feel completely comfortable jumping into the water without any issues.
The last thing you want is for your dog to freeze when it is time to jump off the dock in a competition, so confidence is key. Even experienced professional dog handlers and teams start with short warm up jumps, so you will want to make a point of doing the same.
The more you work with your dog before taking them to a dock diving competition the better, because they absolutely cannot be too prepared. Dogs that are inexperienced swimmers should absolutely not participate in these kinds of competitions, as it can actually be dangerous for them.