So, you’ve seen the K9 Sport of dock diving and think you’d like to play the game? Let’s see if your dog has what it takes! My dog likes water—will he play the game? That’s a great start! The first and most important step in getting involved with the sport of dock diving is having a dog that likes the water! My first recommendation to people who are interested in getting into dock jumping with their dogs is to take a trip to a nearby lake to see if the dog is interested in swimming. If you can’t get your dog in the lake, it’ll be very tough getting him into a pool. My dog loves the lake—what should I work on next? The next step would be getting your dog jumping off a dock. Try finding a place for your dog to jump into the water where he can’t walk in, such as a dock, a boat, or land that has a short drop-off to the water. It’s difficult for dogs to trust their landing, so if you can get your dog to launch off something into the water, he’s one step closer to jumping off a dock into a pool! He leaps into the lake without issue—now what? Once you know that your dog likes the water and will jump off a dock, you should introduce him to clear water! It can be quite a shock to dogs the first time they see clear water. Jumping into the lake is very different, as they either can’t see the bottom or they see reflections. With pool water, dogs can see to the bottom, so they often don’t feel safe jumping into clear water. You may even need to get into the water to show your dog that it’s safe! Make sure the pool has a ramp for your dog to safely enter and exit the pool. Now that he’s getting into the pool, where do I go from here? Next you’ll want to teach your dog to jump off the dock into the pool. This will likely be your most difficult step—jumping off a dock that typically has a 4’ drop, into clear water. This can be very scary! It may be helpful to have your dog jump with another dog that isn’t afraid of jumping. Make sure to use his favorite floatable toy to encourage him to jump! Limit options during this step. Make sure the ramp isn’t available for him to “cheat.” If he wants that toy, he has to work for it! He’s jumping! Are we ready to compete? Yes! If your dog is jumping off the dock, you’re ready to compete! The more practice he gets, the more confidence he’ll build and the farther he’ll go. There are lots of tips and tricks moving forward to work on your dog’s confidence and understanding of the game. But you’ve done the groundwork to get him ready for his first attempt at competing in the sport!
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