Five Tips to Get Big Air at Dock Jumping

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A black dog jumping off a dock into a body of water colored by a sunset

What is dock jumping? This fun sport lets water-loving dogs go the distance! To get started, many owners will train their dogs in a lake or pond. Initial water introductions in a natural setting can help dogs learn to swim with confidence. Once the dog is ready for more, you may choose to graduate to a competition dock and pool. Whether or not you want to attend licensed competitions with your dog, working with them on regulation equipment can be a smart move. Across the country, there are facilities that offer pool and dock rentals—and some of them are indoors. When your dog is comfortable with the competition-style environment, it can be a truly enjoyable pastime to swing by a local facility and make a splash, no matter the season! Here’s how to make the most of your dock time.

A dog splashing water while swimming

Swim First, Jump Later

A competition dock-jumping pool offers a vastly different environment for your dog than the local lake. Be sure to give your dog time to adjust. Large pools can be intimating, even for seasoned swimmers. When you are first introducing your dog to the dock, use the ramp! This trick will offer your dog the confidence to know what’s in store. Once your dog swims from the ramp a few times, they will be more likely to give the dock a try.

A brown and white dog standing toward the end of a dog surrounded by fog

Start Short

Whew … 40 feet of dock is a long way! For a beginner dog, sitting at the far end of the dock can be a challenge. From that vantage point, most dogs can’t even see the water. Experienced dogs know what lies ahead, but a newbie? That can be a bit nerve-wracking. Set your dog up for success by starting about 10 feet back from the edge. It’s a major confidence boost when your dog can see their toy hit the water.

A yellow Labrador retriever with an orange toy resting on a beach near a body of water

Keep It Brief

As your dog gains experience, you will see their stamina grow. Until then, keep their number of repetitions very low. Single digits are the goal! Add plenty of downtime after every three to five jumps. This will keep your dog’s energy up and their excitement high.

A person and dog snuggling at the end of the dock

Hold Your Weight

That’s right—it’s a team sport! That means your role is critical as well. Get your throws exactly right, and your dog’s jumps will reflect that effort. Have a friend take a video of your throws. This can be a great way to see what needs improvement. Practice, practice, practice.

A white and black dog sitting on a rock out in the wilderness

Train for a Solid Sit/Stay

Setting your dog up to leave the dock with enough speed to make a big jump is a major consideration. A dog that “creeps” behind their owner when asked to sit and stay wastes valuable runway length. Invite a friend along to hold your dog until you give the word to release. Alternatively, put in additional training time at home to really nail that sit/stay behavior.