Dock Diving is a fun and exciting sport that allows a dog to revel in the natural joy of retrieving and swimming. But 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!