Dock diving can be a casual hobby or a professional sport for any dog and his owner. Dock diving is relatively easy to learn, for both the handler and her dog, compared to other canine sports. While many dogs naturally swim well and reliably retrieve toys from the water, it is important to train them for several weeks or months before participating in a competition.
Take your dog and his favorite floating toy to a local pond or pool that permits canines. Walk your dog away from people and other dogs if possible to minimize distractions during the training session. Play with your dog and tantalize him with the toy to get him excited before throwing it in the water. You want the dog to enjoy the experience so he is eager and willing to train during future sessions.
Catch your dog's attention with the toy by waving it in front of him, then throw it into the water a few feet from the bank. If your dog has swimming experience, you can start by throwing the toy a bit farther out. Dogs that are new to the water should be acclimated to it slowly by wading in the shallows. Forcing your dog into deep water before he is ready can cause him to fear water in the future, making it much harder to train him to dock dive, according to the United Kennel Club.
Throw the toy farther out into the water as your dog grows accustomed to swimming. Reward your dog for retrieving the toy by petting him or occasionally giving him a treat. Let your dog rest every few minutes so he doesn't become exhausted. Keep your dog focused on getting the toy and bringing it right back to you. Call his name sharply if he strays off path, and gesture toward the toy if he can't find it.
Conduct further training sessions from a dock or platform that is several feet above water level. Make sure there is an easy way for your dog to get back out of the water once he retrieves the toy. Try both types of dock diving throws, "chase" and "place and send," and test which one evokes a better response from your dog.
Hold your dog by the collar on the dock, then throw the toy out into the water. Walk your dog to the back of the dock, then release him to fetch the toy. This is a basic "place and send throw." Place and send does not require an accurate throw or a dog that is good and staying, but it usually doesn't produce the same quality of jump that the "chase" throw does, according to Winyah Bay Heritage Festival.
Have your dog sit at the back of the dock before you throw the toy to try the "chase" throw. Walk to the end of the dock and beckon your dog to chase the toy. Release the toy when the dog is a few feet from you. Try to throw it in a straight line in front of your dog's eyes, so he does not lose sight of it and falter before he jumps.
During a dock diving competition, your dog will be exposed to many new people and other dogs. Excessively shy or aggressive dogs should be socialized before attending competitions.
Always make training, and competing in dock diving competitions, a fun experience for your dog. Encourage him and reward him for his efforts.
Items You Will Need
- Floating dog toy
- Pond or large pool
- Treats (optional)
- Gloves (optional)
- Busa the Dog image by Fallout Photography from Fotolia.com