Dock Diving Dogs are Making a Splash This Summer

Springboard, Cannonball, Swan and Pike have nothing on this doggy diving trend. It’s called Dock Diving and it’s a sport that’s not only taking North America by storm but is one that even landlubbers can enjoy – you just need a water-loving, high-flying dog!

Let’s be clear, this isn’t the jump-off-the-dock-and-swim-to-the-boat kind of dog dive, this is the leap- with-all-you-got-and-fly-through-the-air kind, where Rover can cover some serious pool real estate and win prizes in the process. Yes, it’s competitive, and organizations such as North America Diving Dogs (NADD) have been organizing competitions throughout the US for a number of years now. In fact, NADD titles are even recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) though the organization’s Title Recognition Program – in spite of the fact that participating pooches don’t need to be registered with the AKC.

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How does it work? First of all, NADD is open to all breeds and mixes with divisions created to ensure any size or age of dog can succeed. The Open class is for all size dogs, Lap class is for dogs under 16 inches, and they even have a Veterans class for those whose heart is willing but the body not as able. Of course distance expectations are tailored to the division, and while all might not win in their category you just gotta know your little guy is going to sleep well that night!

Okay, so how do you get your little contender’s name on the winners list? There are two ways: NADD has permanent facilities throughout the US where your pooch can train and qualify to compete at the championships as well as four portable docks/pools that travel throughout North America hosting NADD Trials at AKC Dog Shows and other canine-centric events.

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If the locations don’t fit your travel schedule or budget, you can also check into having a facility near you hold the event. They don’t have to join any special clubs or sign their life away, and if the facility meets the requirements of NADD they are all set to organize their first dock dive trial! Of course judges will need to be trained and qualify, but NADD takes care of that. In fact if you happen to have someone that is already certified as a judge with other dock diving organizations and they meet the NADD requirements, he or she will be grand-fathered (or grand-mothered!)

Next, as the pet-parent you need to complete an online registration form that will provide you with a NADD Registration number. This must be done for each dog you are planning to enter into competition, and requires a one-time fee of $25 (plus $2 processing) per pooch. On completion, you will be assigned a NADD ID to use to register for upcoming trials.

The trials or “qualifying” events are intended to identify those top dogs that will move on to compete at the National Championships. To qualify, a dog must do a minimum of three jumps (called splashes) with his final score being determined by the average of all splashes. He’ll be competing in categories such as “Distance Jump”, “Air Retrieve” and “Vertical” and NADD will recognize every Qualifying jump that your dog earns toward a Title regardless of the division he earns it in. Current records include a 30.7 foot distance jump and a staggering 24 foot air retrieve, so get ready to break out the treats/incentives!

If you think your pet could be a contender in this fun new sport, and you just know he’d love to take the plunge, there are in fact parent-pooch training programs available through NADD that will help him fine-tune his dock diving skills. And even if your dog is more of a bench warmer, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sport. Check special events in your area this summer – you’d be surprised how many offer a dock diving competition!

Mary SimpsonMary Simpson is an animal-loving writer and communications professional. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring local wine regions and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.


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