Dock Diving for Puppies: When to Start Training in 2024

black and white mixed puppy lying in kiddie pool

Dock diving for puppies is a thrilling and rewarding activity that builds a foundation for a fun, water-loving dog. While puppies can’t officially compete in dock diving until they’re at least six months old, that doesn’t mean you can’t start training early. In fact, you can begin introducing your puppy to the basics of dock diving as soon as you bring them home at 8-12 weeks old.

Read on for some effective ways to get started!

How to Get Started in Dock Diving for Puppies

Follow this easy guide to set your puppy up for dock jumping success.

young dog playing in kiddie pool to start dock diving for puppies

Get Your Puppy Comfortable in Water

Introducing your puppy to water can be a gradual and enjoyable process:

  1. Start with an empty kiddie pool: Begin by using a kiddie pool as a giant food bowl during meal times. This helps your puppy get used to getting in and out of the pool before any water is added.
  2. Play in the empty pool: Engage in fun activities like tug-of-war or fetch with the toy landing in the empty pool. This makes the pool a familiar and exciting place.
  3. Add a little water: Once your puppy is comfortable with the empty pool, fill it just enough for them to get their feet wet. Encourage your puppy to get in the water by using their favorite toy.
  4. Play in the water: Continue playing with your puppy in the pool, gradually increasing the water level. If your puppy is hesitant, take your time and keep the experience positive. The goal is to make your puppy feel comfortable and confident in the water, without any rush.
Brittany dog puppy playing outside tug of war

Build Your Puppy’s Toy Drive

Building your puppy’s toy drive is not only essential for dock diving but also beneficial for overall training and bonding:

  1. Practice toy chasing: Throw a toy and let your puppy chase it. This activity enhances their interest in toys and begins to build their drive.
  2. Play light tug games: If your puppy enjoys tug-of-war, engage in light games of tug. This helps in developing their toy drive and provides a fun bonding experience.
  3. Introduce toys in water: Transfer your toy games to a kiddie pool with just a couple of inches of water. Toss the toy into the shallow water and encourage your puppy to grab it. This gradually acclimates them to fetching toys from the water.
  4. Reinforce water play: Continue tossing the toy into the kiddie pool, gradually increasing the water level as your puppy becomes more comfortable. Consistent practice will help your puppy associate water with play and fun, enhancing their confidence and excitement around water.
Two friends giving treats to two dogs while sitting on a park

Socialize Your Puppy

Socialization is a crucial aspect of your puppy’s development and can significantly impact their focus and behavior on the dock:

  1. Practice engagement: Take your puppy out and practice engagement using food and toys as rewards. This helps them learn to focus on you despite distractions.
  2. Proper socialization: Remember, proper socialization isn’t about letting your puppy interact with everyone and everything. It’s about helping them become neutral and calm around different people and environments.
  3. Visit local dock diving events: Take your puppy to local dock diving events. This exposure helps them get accustomed to the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of dock diving.
  4. Learn from observation: While at these events, observe seasoned handlers and ask questions. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the sport and the community.
  5. Maintain etiquette: Even though you’re not competing yet, it’s important to practice good etiquette at these events. This helps your puppy learn appropriate behavior in a competitive environment.
terrier swimming in pool with owner

Teach Your Puppy to Swim

Teaching your puppy to swim is an essential part of dock diving training:

  1. Introduce them to water gently: Start by getting into a pool or body of water with your puppy. Gently lower them into the water, offering calm support.
  2. Utilize “try-it” times: Many dock diving events offer paid “try-it” times, where you can get into the pool with your puppy. This can be a great opportunity to practice swimming in a controlled environment. Always check with the event organizers beforehand to ensure it’s allowed.
  3. Stay near an exit: Position yourself and your puppy close to an exit point, such as a dock diving ramp. This helps your puppy learn how to get out of the water safely and confidently.
  4. Provide reassurance: Your puppy might panic initially, but with your support and encouragement, they should quickly settle down and learn to swim calmly. Keep the sessions short and positive to build their confidence gradually.


Starting dock diving training early can be a fun and enriching experience for both you and your puppy. Remember, while puppies can’t officially compete in dock diving until they’re at least six months old, you can begin laying the foundation as soon as you bring them home.

By getting them comfortable in water, building their toy drive, socializing them properly, and teaching them to swim, you’ll set them up for success in the exciting world of dock diving. Remember, dock diving for puppies is not just about the competition—it’s about having fun, building confidence, and setting a strong foundation.

If you’re interested in more tips and guidance on dog training, sign up for our newsletter and join the waiting list for our upcoming dog training courses. Let’s dive into this adventure together!

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