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Watch Dock Diving in Action on ESPN Dog Day on August 24.

Ready for a splash? Diving Dogs is the perfect sport for water-loving canines and is fun, exciting, and easy-to-do. There are a few simple rules:

  • You throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool while he waits on a dock about 40 feet long.
  • On your command, he runs along the dock, launches himself off the end of it, lands in the water and grabs his toy.
  • The goal? To have the longest jump possible.

Like many dog sports, all dogs including mixed breeds (6 months and older) are eligible to compete in Diving Dogs (other than females in season.) Titles earned through North America Diving Dogs (NADD) will be recognized by The American Kennel Club.  To apply, simply complete the Title Application.

Diving Dogs is a sport with two different disciplines:

  • Distance Jumping: dogs compete for the farthest jump
  • Air Retrieve: dogs compete to knock a bumper of an apparatus at the farthest distance

Watching Diving Dogs for the first time is fun and exciting — but what are all the rules? The action happens so fast that it can be hard to keep track of who wins and why. We’re here to break down the sport of Diving Dogs.

What Dogs Can Participate in Dock Diving?

All dogs six months of age or older are allowed to compete in the sport of Diving Dogs other than females who are in season. The sport is open to all breeds from Chihuahuas to Cane Corsos to mixed breeds.

What Makes Up a Dock Diving Team?

Unlike Flyball, which is a team sport where four dogs compete on one team, Diving Dog teams are comprised of only one dog and one handler. Some teams chose to have one additional handler to help restrain the dog. A handler may use one or two toys to help encourage the dog to jump into the water.

How Big is the Pool and Dock in Diving Dogs?

While swimming in your pool or lake at home is great practice, dogs can’t dive into just any pool when it comes to competition. A diving dock must be at least 40 feet long and 7.5 feet wide. The pool must be at least 41 feet long and 21 feet wide.

How to Compete in Distance Jumping

In distance jumping, a dog is simply scored on how far he or she jumps into the water. The distance is measured from the end of the dock to the base of the dog’s tail when it breaks water.

How to Compete in Air Retrieve

In air retrieve, dogs must jump for a bumper, which hangs in the middle of the dock’s width, two feet above the dock. The goal is for the dog to either grab or completely remove the bumper form the apparatus. Each dog will get two attempts at knocking down the bumper at each distance. The dog to knock down the bumper at the farthest distance wins.

Divisions and Classes

    • Five distance Divisions
      • Novice
      • Junior
      • Senior
      • Master
      • Elite.
    • Two placement Classes:
      • Open (16″ tall and over)
      • Lap (under 16″ tall)
    • Veterans is for dogs over 8 years old.

How Do I Earn Titles?

One Qualifying score jump per Splash or Air Retrieve entry counts toward NADD Titles and AKC Titles if the dog is registered with AKC.

How Do I Get Started in Diving Dogs?

If watching dogs jump into the pool has you thinking your dog would be perfect for the sport, chances are you’re probably right! This sport is great for energetic, water-loving dogs.

The AKC and NADD have several instructional videos to help you get started training for Diving Dogs. You can also reach out to clubs near you to see if there is anyone you can train with. A good basis for understanding the sport is to read the NADD Rulebook.

If Diving Dogs isn’t for you, there are many dog sports that are suitable for dogs of all ages and abilities.

The AKC is proud to participate in ESPN Dog Day on August 24. The event will highlight select dog sports and kicks off on the ESPN app at 11:30 a.m. ET with the ESPN Dog Day Preshow hosted by Anita Marks. At 12 p.m., AKC will turn ESPN’s campus into a dog sports arena, featuring the sports of Dock Diving, Agility and Flyball airing on ESPN2. 

The action-packed day will include AKC production “Flyball: The Ultimate Dog Relay” at 2:30 p.m. ET and the inaugural AKC Agility Premier Cup presented by EEM at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. Check your cable provider for ESPN2 channel information. The entire programming schedule will be available on-demand via the ESPN App as a collection following the initial TV airing. 

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