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Photo by Elizabeth Arellano

The world of dog sports has grown rapidly over the past few decades. Training for dog sports can create a great bond between an owner and their dog through improved communication and trust.  As a bonus, puppies can learn to channel their excessive energy into something useful, rather than into unwanted behaviors. As a breeder, you can encourage your puppy buyers to investigate a dog sport that fits the breed and/or individual personality.

There are many dog sports that puppy buyers can choose from, such as agility, disc, obedience, flyball, and scent work, just to name a few. Although many of these sports take dedicated time and training, dock diving has become one of the fasted growing dog sports because it’s often much easier to “jump” right into competition.


Photo by Elizabeth Arellano


Diving Dogs” is a simple game. A person stands on the end of a dock and throws the dog’s favorite toy into the water. The dog runs and jumps into the water after the toy. The dog that jumps the farthest, wins! Best of all … any size dog can play! The distance of the jumps is measured and placed into categories that are judged against similar distances. For example, the dogs that jump between 1 inch and 9 feet 11 inches all compete for the win of the “Novice” category. All dogs that jump between 10 feet and 14 feet 11 inches compete in the “Junior” category, and so on. The smallest of dogs have their own class (Lap Class) to keep things fair. Titles earned through North America Diving Dogs (NADD) are recognized by the AKC through a simple title application.

As a breeder, you can introduce water to a puppy before they go to their new home. Set up a baby pool first without any water and let them explore. After the puppies are confident with hopping into the dry pool, add a small amount of water and reward heavily when they step in. Too much splashing right away might startle a puppy, so small amounts of water are best to start.


How does someone teach their puppy to jump from a dock? Simple! First, have a puppy’s new owner introduce the puppy to a body of water as just fun swimming and play. A life jacket is recommended to help with a young dog’s confidence as they learn. Typically, introducing a puppy to water with a shallow, gradual slope is easiest. Fun toys tossed at a short distance, the puppy’s owner in the water calling them over, or another friendly swimming dog at the same time, can often encourage a puppy into the water during swimming sessions.

Always allow swimming to be a voluntary exercise. Refrain from the urge to nudge, shove, push, or toss a puppy into the water to make them swim, as this will often traumatize the puppy rather than give confidence. Initial swimming sessions should be short, likely just a few minutes; better to leave the puppy wanting more. Experienced, conditioned adult dogs build up to maybe 30 minutes. Remember to monitor the amount of water a puppy ingests while swimming. Too much water intake can be dangerous.



Photo by Elizabeth Arellano

Once the puppy is eagerly entering the water to swim, height can be gradually introduced. Start with a tiny platform (as little as a couple of inches) to jump from and slowly increase the height until they are comfortable with leaping from taller docks. Increasing the height incrementally may take time, so patience is key. Keep it fun!!