What Is Dock Diving? How Can I Train My Dog?

Most dog enthusiasts have heard of dock diving and may have seen some videos of it. While dock diving competitions may look intimidating and complicated, the sport is actually easier to get your paws into than you may have thought! This article will give you a basic run down on dock diving to help you and your dog get started.

What Is Dock Diving?

Dock Diving measures the distance a dog can launch himself or herself from a 40 foot dock into a 41 foot pool. Each dog gets 2 attempts to jump, referred to as a “splash”. The dog who jumps the furthest distance wins.

There are two variations of dock diving according to the American Kennel Club (AKC):

Distance Jumping, which scores each dog based upon the distance they jump from the dock into the pool, measured from the edge of the dock to the base of the dog’s tail. The dog who jumps the furthest distance wins.

Air Retrieve, which challenges each dog to grab or remove a toy from a device that suspends it over the water. The dog who removes the toy at the furthest distance from the dock wins.

Is My Dog Eligible To Participate In Dock Diving?

Dock Diving is a very inclusive sport; any non-aggressive dog who loves water is able to participate.

According to Purina, breeds such as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the Labrador Retriever are most often seen dock diving, but any breed may participate. Even breeds who do not traditionally love water are seen participating; there is usually at least one dog in “every crowd” who loves the water even when their breed generally does not.

According to the rules and regulations of the North America Diving Dogs (NADD), to be eligible to participate in dock diving, your dog must meet the following requirements:

  • A dog must be at least 6 months old.
  • Females in heat may not compete.
  • All dogs, including pure breeds and mixed breeds, are welcome to compete.

To compete in an American Kennel Club (AKC) Dock Diving event, the AKC requires that a dog must have an AKC registration number by one of the following methods:

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and North America Diving Dogs (NADD) often hold events in conjunction with one another. To learn about how these AKC/NADD combination dock diving events work, follow this link to the AKC website.

How Can I Train My Dog For Dock Diving?

Other benefits of Dock Diving are that treats are not used, making it ideal for helping a dog train without adding extra calories, offering exercise, and how easy it is to get started. All you need is access to safe water to practice in and a dog who loves the water and is motivated by toys!

There is not much training needed to get started; most dogs who love water take to the dock diving process naturally. Dogs must wait on the dock, then run and launch themselves off the dock on the command of their handler. This means that the wait command is very important for a dog to master. However, in competitions, another handler is permitted to hold the dog while the other handler throws the toy and commands the dog from the dock.

The North America Diving Dogs organization offers a wonderful free resource for new comers: videos on how to get started in dock diving.

Dock Diving Titles

Dogs may qualify for both American Kennel Club (AKC) and North America Diving Dogs (NADD) titles if the dog is registered with the AKC.

Dogs may earn the following titles in competitions held by (NADD) when they collect 5 qualifying jumps in 1 division:

  • Novice DN for splashes ranging from 1 inch to 9 feet 11 inches.
  • Junior DJ for splashes ranging from 10 feet to 14 feet 11 inches.
  • Senior DS for splashes ranging from 15 feet to 19 feet 11 inches.
  • Master DM for splashes ranging from 20 feet to 23 feet 11 inches.
  • Elite DE for splashes ranging from 24 feet to 27 feet 11 inches.
  • Premier for splashes over 28 feet.

Advanced titles are available when a dog accumulates 25 more qualifying jumps, upon the dog’s 30th jump.

Excellent titles are available when a dog accumulates 25 more qualifying jumps, upon the dog’s 55th jump.

To learn more about all the titles available to dogs in competitions held by the North America Diving Dogs (NADD), follow this link.

What Toys Should I Use For Dock Diving?

The toy that you choose for your dog to use for dock diving is very important; a toy that captures your dog’s attention has the potential to increase his or her performance.

As you shop for the toys your dog will use for Dock Diving, keep the following tips in mind:

  • The toy must be able to float and it cannot be remote controlled, edible, a live animal, dead animal parts, or able to dissolve to be in compliance with North America Diving Dogs (NADD) rules and regulations.
  • Choose a toy with blue and yellow colors; according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs can see these colors, so a toy with those colors will best capture their attention and be easiest for them to locate.
  • Since the toy that your dog will pursue into the pool must capture their attention enough to motivate them to go after it swiftly, pick the toy that your dog best responds to rather than what you think would work best.

Here are some toys that comply with the North America Diving Dogs (NADD) rules and regulations:

How Can I Learn More About Dock Diving?

The two most popular organizations that hold Dock Diving Competitions in America, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and North America Diving Dogs (NADD), both have lots of resources to help you get started.


If you have a dog who cannot keep himself or herself away from water and loves toys, dock diving would be a great way to keep your dog active and healthy with the added bonus of a bonding opportunity from training. Any dog may participate and it is easy to get started at home if you have access to a safe training area such as a pool or lake.