show your support

Tips for Training Your Labrador for Dock Diving

The Labrador Retriever breed loves water – it’s in their DNA. These dogs were developed to retrieve downed waterfowl so they have a natural ability to swim and their bodies are designed to move quickly and effortlessly through the water. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your dog that plays upon his natural abilities, consider dock jumping. Keep reading to learn more about what dock jumping is and how to train your Lab for this sport.

What is Dock Jumping?

There are many different dog sports out there and each one caters to a particular type of dog. Agility is the sport of choice for active, intelligent breeds and flyball is great for dogs that love to chase. Sheepdog trials are obviously for herding breeds and lure coursing is perfect for sight hounds. Dock jumping is a unique dog sport because any breed can participate and excel, though the larger breeds tend to perform better. This sport involves training your dog to run and jump off a dock into a pool of water – points are awarded for the highest and the longest jump. This sport is perfect for the Labrador Retriever because this breed loves water and they have strong swimming skills.

Training Tips for Dock Jumping

Most Labs will jump into the water to chase a toy, but there is a certain degree of training your dog needs to go through to master the proper technique. For example, you want to make sure that your dog jumps as far as he can instead of just jumping into the water at a comfortable distance. Teaching your dog to chase a toy thrown off the dock can help with this, as long as you are able to throw the toy to a length greater than your dog’s maximum jumping ability. Here are some tips for dock jumping training:

  • Start by making sure your Lab is comfortable in the water – he needs to develop strong swimming skills before he can excel in dock jumping.
  • Build your dog’s confidence in the water and work on his stamina as well – use 30-minute swim sessions as your dog’s primary form of exercise.
  • Start playing with your dog and his favorite toys in the water to build toy drive.
  • Get your dog used to jumping into the water by using verbal encouragement and tossing a toy for him to jump after.
  • Work with your dog to improve his skills until he is ready to compete.
  • Graduate to a regulation pool and teach your dog how to use the ramp to get out of the water each time he goes in.

Not all Labs will enjoy dock diving, but most of them do. The key is to make the training fun for your dog and to show your own enthusiasm. Your dog will pick up on your excitement and his natural desire to please you will come into play as well. Just keep working with your dog and there is no telling what he might be able to accomplish!

Photo credit: James E. Knopf/Shutterstock