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Our First Experience With Dock Diving

Our First Experience with Dock Diving

Both Raleigh and Iggy competed in their first dock diving competition this summer and they loved it! We participated in a competition at The Dog Tank in Menomonie, WI on both Saturday and Sunday. I was pleased with how well they did, given that Iggy just learned to swim this past summer. Also, Raleigh had never jumped from a dock until this summer.

Raleigh’s first attempt to swim last summer was something of a failure; she initially didn’t understand that she needed to use her back legs as well, so her back end began to sink when she got far enough out. She loved the water but really struggled to stay afloat, so Brian and I would take turns holding her back end up so she would get used to the kicking motion in her back legs. After numerous times throwing the ball out so Raleigh could practice swimming, she finally got it! However, last year she was a little too timid to jump off of the dock.

Fast-forward to this year – Raleigh already knew how to swim and had gained confidence when entering the lake. She loved swimming out and fetching a tennis ball for us. Iggy wanted to follow Raleigh, but was hesitant in the deep water. However, once he realized he could swim he learned quickly. And he is a FAST swimmer. He actually kind of reminds us of an otter the way he glides through the water without splashing much with his paws.

The dock at our cabin is a little high above the water, so we went over to the public access to try jumping from the dock, which was a little lower. Raleigh refused to jump straight off of the end, but would jump out to the side of the dock, which was still deep enough to swim in. Iggy followed suit, although he jumped off the end of the dock right away. Iggy is not terribly motivated by any kind of toy when he’s jumping: he actually hardly pays attention to it because he’s so excited to jump in the water (a behavior I like to see).

The second time we adventured to northern Minnesota this year the docks were pretty high above the water at the resort we were at, but our dogs didn’t mind at all! Once they gained that initial confidence jumping from the dock into the water, they were okay with the increased height.

However, jumping into a pool is much different than jumping into a lake, so we registered for some practice sessions at The Dog Tank. The first session we went to we spent time familiarizing our dogs with the ramp they would use to exit the tank, something that Raleigh struggled with for a few minutes. We expected Iggy to struggle with it as well as he tends to be skeptical of new things, but he was so excited that he went right down the ramp and bombed into the water.

When it was time for them to jump into the pool, Raleigh was hesitant only the first time and jumped right in every time after. We use a Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper to motivate Raleigh and Iggy when diving. Raleigh is much more motivated by the toy than Iggy – to Iggy the toy’s presence in the water seems to be more of an afterthought. This may change as he gets older, but for now the water is enough motivation.

A month later, we were back at The Dog Tank for our first North America Diving Dogs (NADD) competition. Saturday was the first day, and Raleigh was our first dog to jump. You can opt to have a practice jump with each wave (a wave consists of two jumps, the best of which is recorded), but because we decided to participate in all four waves both days we opted out of practice to prevent our dogs from tiring too quickly. Her very first of four waves was very short because she was somewhat hesitant to jump. However, she wound up jumping and scoring well her second jump in that wave! Her best jump on Saturday was 13’11”, a score that falls in the Junior title division. Iggy couldn’t wait to jump in the pool (he tends to create a scene before he jumps; when he sees other dogs jumping he barks and cries with excitement), and his best jump of the day was 15’7”. This score falls into the Senior title division.

On Sunday we had some rainy weather so I wasn’t expecting our dogs to do as well, but they surpassed my expectations! Raleigh’s best jump of the day was 14’2”, and Iggy’s best jump was 16’0”. By the end of the day on Sunday both of them earned their fifth qualifying leg in their respective title divisions (Raleigh in the Junior titling division and Iggy in Senior), so both officially have dock diving titles.

We love dock diving because our dogs love it. It’s a dog sport that you can participate in even if you’re not very interested in training your dog on a regular basis. If you know your dog likes to swim, I would definitely recommend giving it a try. Furthermore, there’s no need to be nervous at your first competition (I was a little). The people who judge and participate in dock diving are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and more than willing to help newbies out. We know we’ll be back to diving soon!

This Post Has 89 Comments
  1. Katie, I loved reading about your dogs! What a fun sport. We have a girl named Daisy that looks like the dog on the right. She’s afraid of the water! We’re working with her.

    1. Awesome, I’m glad to hear you’re working with her! Raleigh was never afraid of the water, but she definitely didn’t understand the concept of swimming the first time she tried. Once she caught on, we couldn’t get her out of the lake!

  2. This sounds great 🙂 im pretty sure only one of my dogs would enjoy this but that ok, we would love to try it

    1. We will definitely post a video later on! The dogs do look really adorable when they are jumping: each dog does something different. For Raleigh her ears stand up, and Iggy’s mouth is wide open because he tries to eat the water. 🙂

    1. Schnauzers are awesome! We participated in a barn hunt clinic this past weekend and the Schnauzer that was there was really good at it!

  3. They both look so adorable! I have never heard of dock diving, but I must check it out now. It seems like a lot of fun, and my family is full of dog lovers! Thanks for sharing this.

  4. I loved reading about their achievements and you two look so delightful wearing your ribbons. Good going you two!

    I SO wish you had a movie of them, it would have been amazing to see the event and the fun!

    1. We will post a video in the coming months! They are really funny to watch, as Raleigh’s ears tend to fly up and Iggy lands with his mouth wide open because he’s trying to eat the water. 🙂

    1. It’s absolutely a blast, we recommend it to everyone interested in getting their dog involved in a sport! It’s also a great bonding activity. 🙂

    1. That can be half of the battle sometimes! Both of our dogs enjoyed water, but it did take Raleigh a while to learn to swim. 🙂

  5. I’m convinced that dog people are some of the most supportive people on the planet, so I’m not at all surprised that everyone was friendly and willing to help out at Iggy and Raleigh’s first dock diving event. I’m impressed with their first time results – way to go guys!!

    1. Thank you! They’re truly amazing dogs! And I agree 100%, dog people are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met.

  6. I love that you discuss the details of training each dog to do dock diving competitions. It’s important to note that each dog has a different comfort level and skill level as well. I love watching dock diving competitions! Gonzo would probably love it.

    1. I highly recommend trying it! And you are so right, it is critical to understand that each dog learns in different ways and masters skills at a different pace. Once they get the hang of it, it’s a blast!

  7. We love watching dock diving, I think it’s great the way you helped Raleigh learn how to swim and that both dogs took to diving. Unfortunately this isn’t something we can ever try so I envy those that have dogs that love it. Dolly hates water but I did make sure she knew how to swim when she was young, and Taffy, well, she’s just not bright and teaching her anything is impossible! Sandra and Dolly

    1. It’s definitely not for every dog! It’s great that Dolly knows how to swim in the event of an emergency though. For us in Minnesota it’s an important skill, as we spend a lot of time on the lake.

    1. It is really fun to watch. It’s amazing how far some of the dogs can jump! We will post some videos of them jumping in the future!

  8. What a fun sport! Babu hates water so no diving or swimming for him. I wish he were sporty like your little ones:-)

    1. It is a lot of fun! Babu is adorable! While it’s nice to have a dog that enjoys sports, we most appreciate that they also enjoy cuddling and just being with us. 🙂

  9. I love this, we don’t have any competitions or anything like that here, not as far as I know at least, there are a couple of dog centres with pools but other than that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach or in the park so i guess there would be no where to do it. Plus my little one isn’t a fan of the water so I don’t see her gracefully diving anywhere! Haha

    1. Haha I can say with 100% certainty that there are no points for grace. Iggy tends to just run straight into the water as opposed to actually jumping, which looks much more stylish. 🙂

  10. Your dogs are adorable! We just got a puppy so we are hoping to take Jim to the water this summer. Hopefully he takes to swimming!

  11. I’ve never even heard of dock diving competitions before this, probably because I grew up in a big city with no real lakes where they’d be able to do this. Sounds like a fun experience though, they’re super adorable!

    1. It really is a blast, and requires only a little bit of practice. We are at an advantage living in Minnesota as well, because we have a lot of lakes to practice swimming in!

  12. Cool! I’ve never heard of dock diving before but it sounds really fun. I think our dog is a bit of scaredy-cat though lol. I don’t think he’ll do it!

    1. Sometimes they surprise you! Iggy, our younger one, is still pretty scared of vacuums, blenders, and anything that makes noises similar to those items. But once he’s given a chance to jump, he is all about it!

  13. This must have been a really fun activity with your dogs. I am not sure is mine would be interested. He is a tiny Shih Tzu who believes he is bigger than a greyhound and acts like THE alpha male in the house, unless there is a thunderstorm, then he lets my husband take over the role of alpha male. Ha ha. I an hoping to see a video on your blog soon. 🙂

    1. I used to have a Shih Tzu when I was growing up! The lap dogs are adorable when they compete in dock diving, they have their own division and set of standards (logically they don’t jump as far because they usually have shorter legs). Luckily neither of ours are afraid of thunderstorms, but Iggy is definitely not a fan of the vacuum. 🙂

  14. I just naturally assumed dogs automatically knew how to swim when first entering he water. Shows what I know. I am glad a year later she became more comfortable with the water.

    1. For some dogs it is definitely more instinctual. Our younger dog, Iggy, caught on much more quickly than Raleigh did and is more of a natural swimmer. However, now Raleigh loves it as well!

  15. I did not know about dock diving till I read your post. This sounds so interesting for dogs and dog owners. Both Raleigh and Iggy look so adorable!

    1. We do love them: they are absolutely part of our family! We are thankful we have found activities like dock diving that we can all enjoy together.

    1. Thanks! We can take the credit for Raleigh’s name, but Iggy is short for Igor, which was his name when we rescued him so we wanted to keep it. 🙂

    1. There are lots of competitions, all across the USA! I encourage you to check one out sometime, they are a ton of fun. 🙂

  16. This was actually my first time hearing about dock diving but what a great idea for dogs that like to swim! I love that Rayleigh and Izzy both got dock diving titles too so congratulations to them!

  17. This surely sounds fun..never heard of dock diving before but since you’ve mentioned it and it was this fun on your side, its obviously worth trying out. Watching dogs swim sounds fantastis! Haha!

    1. It’s a lot of fun even to watch: it’s amazing how far some dogs can jump, and they all look absolutely adorable swimming back to the dock!

    1. We are happy that they have fun doing it, and it’s a lot of fun for us to watch! It’s such a fun sport to participate in.

  18. Wow, I hadn’t even heard of this sport until now. You inspired me to look up some videos of it, and it’s really cool! Thanks for broadening my horizons!

    I’ve always had the prissy little dogs that don’t want to go anywhere near water. LOL.

    1. It’s a lot of fun to participate in, and to watch! Some dogs aren’t big fans of water, and that is totally okay! There are a lot of other fun things to do with your dogs. 🙂

  19. I’ve never heard of this ‘Dock Diving’ before, sounds great! I would LOVE to own a dog someday soon… Reading about your dogs only makes me want one more ; )

    1. It’s a blast for the dogs, that’s one of the reasons we love it so much! It’s so fun to watch our dogs find something they love to do.

    1. They love water, so they don’t mind jumping in! They do a lot of swimming at the lake, especially playing fetch with toys or tennis balls in the water.

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