How to Train a Dog for Dock Diving in 5 Easy Steps

blue merle border collie jumping into dock diving pool

Meraki Dogs may earn a small commission when you buy through links on this site at no cost to you. See our disclaimer here.

So, you’ve got a dog that loves water, and you’re thinking about trying something new and exciting? Dock diving might be the perfect fit!

Picture your dog leaping off a dock, soaring through the air, and making a big splash in the water. Dock jumping is not just a sport; it’s a fun way for your dog to burn off some energy and show off their skills. Plus, it’s a great bonding experience for both of you.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know on how to train a dog for dock diving. We’ve got you covered, from choosing the right toy to properly introducing the dock. Let’s jump in and get started on this fun-filled adventure!

Before You Get on the Dock

👉 Toy Motivation: Make sure your dog is toy-motivated. Choose a floating toy that your dog loves and plan to use it exclusively on the dock. Here are some common favorites I’ve seen or used myself on the dock:

👉 Test Interest: If your dog isn’t toy motivated, they might still enjoy dock diving for the act of jumping in. Test their interest by observing their behavior around pools and bodies of water. Do they willingly get in? Do they seem to enjoy jumping in? If yes, there’s a chance!

👉 Swimming Skills: Teach your dog how to swim away from the sport of dock diving. Some breeds might need a life jacket regardless of their swimming capabilities, so it’s important they are comfortable wearing one.

belgian malinois playing tug while learning how to train a dog for dock diving

Introduction On the Dock

If you don’t have a facility nearby with a dock diving pool available to rent, look for a local dock diving event and sign up for a “try it” session. Think of it as a test drive for dock diving, similar to a “fun run” for Fast CAT. You get about five minutes on the dock to help your dog get acclimated to the dock, pool, and overall environment.

The Steps: How to Train a Dog for Dock Diving

  1. Potty Break:
    • Make sure to potty your dog before you go up on the dock.
    • Keep an eye on your dog for any signs that they need to go while you’re up there.
  2. Initial Reactions:
    • Watch how your dog reacts to the dock and ramp. Are they comfortable enough to play with you on the dock?
    • Toss the toy across the dock (not in the water) to encourage your dog to play.
    • Use your typical play routine to get them excited about chasing and retrieving the toy.
  3. Ramp Practice:
    • Once your dog is committed to the toy, move to the ramp and toss it to the edge of the ramp, partly in the water, for them to grab.
    • Repeat this a few times to ensure your dog is comfortable going up and down the ramp.
    • You can move to the next step if they confidently grab the toy.
  4. First Jumps Off the Ramp:
    • Toss the toy just past the edge of the ramp to encourage them to jump in and retrieve it.
    • Be ready to guide your dog back onto the ramp, as the first few jumps might confuse them. They may not know where to exit the pool.
    • Do they seem excited and eager? Are they jumping off the ramp with confidence? Do they understand how to get out of the pool using the ramp? If yes, you’re ready to move up to the dock!
  5. Dock Jumping:
    • Play with your dog on the dock and toss the toy just off the edge into the pool, encouraging your dog to retrieve it.
    • Some dogs will jump in with little hesitation, while others may need you to be their cheerleader.
    • It’s perfectly okay if your dog takes a few sessions before they work up the courage to jump in.

Congratulations! Once your dog is confidently jumping off the dock, you officially have a diving dog ready to be judged in a distance jumping competition.

blue merle border collie swimming in pool at dock diving competition

Tips for Your Diving Dog

  1. Avoid Reinforcing the Ramp: If your dog gets stuck and doesn’t want to jump off the dock to retrieve the toy, don’t let them go through the ramp. Allowing them to use the ramp reinforces this behavior, making it harder to get your dog to jump off the dock. Instead, encourage them to jump by using lots of praise and excitement or even by getting in the water yourself to motivate them (make sure this is okay first).
  2. Helper or Self-Release: While you can have a helper hold and release your dog while you throw the toy, teaching your dog to sit and wait for your release command can be just as effective.
  3. Reinforce Stay: If you plan to have your dog sit or lie down before being released, practice this during your training sessions. Act like you’re about to throw the toy but instead go to your dog (while they remain sitting or lying down) and reward them in place. This reinforces staying in position until you give the command.
  4. Potty Etiquette: Always potty your dog in the designated potty areas and clean up after them. This basic etiquette helps keep the dock diving area clean and pleasant for everyone.


    Teaching your dog to dock dive is an incredibly fun bonding experience. As you train, remember to be patient and consistent, celebrating each small victory along the way. Dock diving not only provides a fantastic outlet for your dog’s energy but also strengthens the bond between you and your pet.

    For more tips, tricks, and updates on dog sports and training, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Don’t miss out on joining our waiting list for the upcoming dog training course, tailored for dog owners of all experience levels. Let’s make waves together and turn your dog into a dock diving champion!

    Similar Posts