Dock Diving Dog Sport

Close-up front photo of a dog jumping in the pool while participating in Dock Diving sport.
Submitted by: Jennifer Murphy

About Dock Diving

Dock Diving, also sometimes known as Dock Jumping, is a thrilling and increasingly popular sport for dogs and their owners. This aquatic-based activity centers around a simple yet captivating concept: dogs leap from a platform (the dock) into a pool or natural body of water, aiming to achieve maximum distance, height, or even speed in certain competitive formats.

The heart of the sport lies in the exhilarating moment when a dog sprints along a dock and launches into the air. Dogs of various breeds, mixes, and sizes can participate, showcasing their athletic abilities in different categories. Key aspects of the sport include:

  • Jumping Categories: The primary categories in Dock Diving are “distance jumping” and “vertical jumping.” In distance jumping, often termed as “Big Air,” the dog aims to cover the longest possible distance. Vertical jumping, known as “High Fly,” focuses on how high the dog can leap to grab a suspended toy.
  • Training & Technique: Training for Dock Diving emphasizes building a dog’s confidence in water, enhancing its running and jumping skills, and improving its retrieval capabilities. Dock Diving training often involves techniques to improve the dog’s takeoff from the dock and its overall body control during the jump.

Dock Diving Equipment

Essential equipment for Dock Diving includes:

  • Diving Docks: These are specially designed platforms where dogs take their running start. The docks are typically covered with a non-slip surface for safety.
  • Diving Pools: Many events use portable pools, but natural bodies of water are also used. The pools are usually large and deep enough to ensure a safe landing for the dogs.
  • Toys & Bumpers: Specially designed toys or bumpers are often used to encourage the dog to jump. These toys are typically water-resistant and float on the surface.

Popularity & Inclusiveness

What makes the sport unique is its inclusiveness. Dogs of all breeds, mixes, sizes, and skill levels can participate. It’s a sport that fosters a strong bond between the dog and its human companion, emphasizing fun, exercise, and the joy of competing. From backyard fun to national competitions, Dock Diving offers an exciting, inclusive, and rewarding experience for dogs and their owners alike.

Icelandic Sheepdog swimming in the pool.
Submitted by: Michelle Ridenour

History and Evolution of Dock Diving

The sport of Dock Diving has evolved over the years to become an exciting and popular canine activity. Its development reflects a combination of an innate canine ability and human ingenuity that has created a thoroughly engaging dog sport.

The exact beginnings are not well-documented, but the sport likely originated from informal competitions among dog owners. Historically, dogs have always been involved in water-based activities, whether for work or play. Retrievers, for example, were bred to fetch game from water, naturally exhibiting the skills crucial for Dock Diving.

Rise in Popularity

The formalization of Dock Diving as a competitive sport can be traced back to the late 1990s. One of the earliest recorded Dock Diving events was part of the “Incredible Dog Challenge,” sponsored by Purina in 1997. This event brought significant attention to the sport and is often credited with kickstarting its popularity.

As interest in the sport grew, the need for standardized rules and organizing bodies became apparent. Organizations such as North American Diving Dogs (NADD) and United Dock Diving emerged, establishing guidelines for competitions, equipment, and judging criteria. These organizations played a pivotal role in formalizing the sport and promoting its growth across North America.

Evolution of the Sport

Over the years, the sport has evolved in terms of the techniques used, the equipment utilized, and the categories of competition. Initially focused primarily on the distance of the jump (Big Air), the sport expanded to include vertical jumps (High Fly) and even timed retrieval events. The equipment used in Dock Diving also saw advancements, with safer, more standardized docks and pools being introduced.

While Dock Diving had its roots in North America, it didn’t take long for the sport to gain international attention. Today, Dock Diving competitions are held worldwide, with a diverse range of breeds participating. The sport’s inclusive nature and the excitement it generates have contributed to its global appeal.

Dalmatian named
Submitted by: Amanda Gill


Dock Diving, as a competitive and recreational sport, is governed and promoted by several key organizations. These entities play a crucial role in standardizing rules, hosting events, and fostering the growth of Dock Diving worldwide.

NADD (North American Diving Dogs):

  • About: NADD is a premier organization in North America dedicated to the sport of Dock Diving. It’s known for setting standardized rules and regulations for the sport.
  • Breed Acceptance: Open to all breeds, including mixed breeds.
  • Eligibility: Refer to NADD’s official competition rules for eligibility requirements.
  • Affiliations: NADD is affiliated with the American Kennel Club (AKC), allowing dogs to earn AKC titles through their performance in NADD-sanctioned events.

UAD (Ultimate Air Dogs):

  • About: UAD is a well-regarded organization in the Dock Diving community, known for its inclusive and spectator-friendly events.
  • Breed Acceptance: