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No Pool? No Problem: Dryland Skills for Dock Diving

February 11

6:00 pm PT

This talk is eligible for CEUs from: IAABC, KPA


Dock Diving is a fun and exciting sport that allows a dog to revel in the natural joy of retrieving and swimming. Despite the apparently simple nature of this sport, there is a lot we can train to make it appealing to more dogs and easier, safer, and more successful for the dogs to take to it quickly. From solid foundations to advanced concepts and conditioning; we can do the majority of these without even swimming. That is important, since the average dog owner doesn’t have daily access to a diving pool.

In the early days of dock diving as a sport it was common to invite a new dog and handler team to show up to a competition where they would try dock diving for the first time. Dogs who liked it would carry on with competing; dogs who didn’t immediately take to it, would likely never get the chance to try again. It was essentially believed that dogs jumped based on their interest, natural ability and drive – or not at all. Thankfully, those days are gone – dock diving enthusiasts everywhere are now embracing the idea of providing good training and ample preparation well before their dog ever gets to their first pool visit.

Modern training applies to dock diving, just like it does to every other dog sport- we know how to empower new dogs with toy skills, body awareness, and confidence building techniques to ensure that when they do hit the dock for the first time, they are being set up for a positive experience. They don’t need to learn the whole sport in one day! Splitting the sport’s components allow us to teach things like marking, striding, catching, and proper startline behaviours, all on dry land. We can teach patterns on the ground that the dog easily recognizes, helping them to generalize these dryland sessions to the pool when that time comes.

For more experienced dogs, dryland training can help to boost technique and fitness, and improve their confidence, coordination, and resulting jump size. As handlers, we tailor our throwing style and timing to the strengths of our dog and their preferences and can practice our end of the teamwork at home too. We don’t need to spend long hours at the pool training – instead short, targeted training sessions at home take care of the prep work and we can really work on the precision details of our jumping when we do get to the dock to train. Dryland training thus helps not only improve the performance of dogs already competing- but it also helps you make better use of the time you do get to spend on the dock!

This presentation will help newbies to the sport AND experienced competitors find ways to break down dock diving skills into fun, practical pieces you can practice at home or in your yard. No pool? No Problem!

Presented By:

Erin Lynes KPA-CTP

Erin (she/her) is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, North America Diving Dogs judge, CWAGS scent judge, and breeder of performance focused Labrador Retrievers under the “Eromit” kennel name.

Erin’s journey in dog sports began as a junior handler, first in obedience and then more seriously when her family took up dog sled racing. She spent ten years as a competitive sprint racer specializing in 4 and 6 dog class with both Labrador Retriever and Alaskan Husky sled dogs. During her university years, where she studied Biology and Animal Science, Erin fostered a variety of breeds and mixes through her local shelter – also working as an adoption counselor and animal attendant for 6 years. It was around that time that a friend introduced her to the sport of agility and that brought about a whole new training passion!

Currently, Erin enjoys cross-training her labs in many sports. Summer months are spent mostly on dock diving and agility; canicross and hunt training in the fall; dog sledding and nosework in the winter and obedience or antler hunting in the spring!

As an instructor, she takes the most pride in teaching her students with a “fun-first” philosophy for both the people and the dogs, and helps them develop a special bond with their dogs whether training as pets, in fitness or in sports. Her training facility – Eromit AIRcademy – was voted the North America Diving Dogs 2019 Canadian Facility of the Year, and hosts NADD sanctioned dock diving trials throughout the summer months as well as lessons, seminars and year-round online training.

Erin shares her home with her equally dog-loving husband Tim and a dozen or so wild and wonderful labs ranging from 4 month old Marlin to 13.5 year old Ruger. Their family also includes 2 cats any many rabbits, chickens, pigeons, and American Blackbelly sheep.