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What Is Dock Jumping or Dock Diving for Dogs? (Types & FAQs)

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

labrador retriever dog catching a toy during a dock diving event

What Is Dock Jumping or Dock Diving for Dogs? (Types & FAQs)

Dock diving is a relatively new sport that many pet owners enjoy doing with their dogs. It will help keep your pet cool on hot summer days, and it’s also just a great deal of fun. If you want to know more about the game, keep reading for a description of the game and its rules. It requires throwing your dog’s favorite toy into a lake. On your command, your dog runs down a dock that is at least 40 feet long and 7 feet wide and leaps into the water to retrieve the toy. We also go over how the game started, what equipment you need, and what dogs are best at it, so you can see if it’s right for you and your pet.

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How Does It Work?

Purina began dock diving, or dock jumping¹, back in 1997 at its Incredible Dog Challenge, and it has become more popular every year. Any dog that can swim and is not afraid of water can play, and the only equipment that you need — besides the dock — is a floating toy, a towel, a waterproof dog collar, and an optional life jacket. The dock usually has artificial turf or another covering that helps improve traction and safety as your dog runs.

What Are the Different Types of Dock Jumping?


1. Place and Send

There are two techniques that you can use in dock jumping. The first is the place and send, and it is relatively easy to master. To use this method, walk your dog to the end of the dock, and throw the toy into the water while you hold your dog back. Then, walk your dog back to the beginning of the dock and “place” them, which means to get them into the starting position. Finally, “send” your dog, giving them the command to retrieve their toy, and your dog should run to the end of the dock and leap into the water to get the toy.

dog jumping off the dock into the swimming pool after his red toy
Image By: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

2. Chase

The second technique, chase, is more challenging because it requires your dog to wait at the starting point while you walk down to the end of the dock with the toy. You call your dog and hold out the toy when you reach the end. Your goal is to launch the toy into the water just in front of the dog’s nose, so they follow it into the water. Once you master this technique, your dog will be able to jump farther out into the water because their body will be in a better position.


1. Distance

Once you master techniques, you and your pet can aim for a trophy. Distance jumping is the most common way to keep score, and the dog who jumps the farthest wins. Judges measure the distance from the edge of the dock to the base of the dog’s tail where it breaks the water. In some cases, the judges will use a digital camera for accuracy. Otherwise, several judges will make their best determination based on their observations. Your dog will get two tries, with the longer of the two counting as their score.

retriever dog jumping from a dock into a body of water
Image By: Zuzanna Paluch, Shutterstock

2. Air Retrieval

Air retrieval is a dock-jumping contest that requires your dog to grab a toy out of the air as they jump into the water. Coordinators hang a toy above the water from a rope about 4 feet in front of the dock. The dog then runs down the dock and leaps into the water, grabbing the toy on their way in. If they are successful, your dog moves to the next round, where the toy will be 5 feet from the dock. Each round moves the toy out 1 foot more, and the winner is the dog that jumps the farthest.

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Where Can You Find Dock Diving for Dogs?

You can find dock-diving events all year long in many parts of the country, and several coordinators, like North America Diving Dogs, post events online, so they are easy to find.

Advantages of Dock Jumping

Most dogs like water, so dock diving can be great fun, even during the early days, when your pet is still learning how to play. It’s also a great way to cool off during the summer, and it will help your pet burn energy, which will help them stay fit and less likely to misbehave out of boredom. Dock jumping will also enable you to bond with your pet and improve your training skills.

Disadvantages of Dock Jumping

Dock jumping has no real disadvantages unless your pet doesn’t like water and can’t swim. If it’s your pet’s first time near water or playing the game, let them proceed at their own pace so they don’t get stressed out, which might lead to them having a bad experience and not wanting to play.

labrador dog catching a toy during an event after jumping off a dock over a pool
Image By: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where can I train my dog to dock dive?

Many state parks have docks on a lake that you can use to familiarize your dog with the sport. While they’re unlikely to have the correct dock dimensions, these areas can still help your dog learn the commands to follow and get used to jumping into the water. It can also help you and your pet learn the skills that you will need for the chase technique. Additionally, you can use training facilities¹ throughout the United States, as more are appearing daily.

What is the purpose of dock jumping?

Dock jumping is a great way to test your dog’s athletic ability and your own ability to train your pet to follow commands in a situation with many distractions. It’s also a good way to have fun, cool off, and let the dog get exercise and burn off excess energy.

How do I enter my dog into a dock-diving contest?

Once you find an event in your area, you will need to sign up to receive a registration or listing number for your pet. To receive an official title, you will need an AKC Registration Number, Purebred Alternative Listing Number, Foundation Stock Service Number, or AKC Canine Partners number to record the winning information.

chocolate labrador dog about to jump into a cold pool
Image By: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Dock diving is a fun and healthy sport that requires your dog to run down a long dock and jump in the water to retrieve a toy. During the competition, judges will score the dog based on how far they can jump off the dock or how far they can retrieve a toy hanging in the air. The sport helps your dog get plenty of exercise while helping them to cool off. It’s an easy game to learn, it’s fun to play, and playing it might even result in a few awards!

Featured Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

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