How to Train Your Dog to Dock Jump

How to Train Your Dog to Dock Jump
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

It seems like everything is becoming a sport today and dock jumping is one of the fastest growing canine sports in the country, with competitions, prizes, and more. However, before we go too far, it's worth noting that not all breeds are suited to this sport. Your dog should have at least one of these two qualities: a love of water or a love of playing fetch. And right along with this, you are going to need a lot of patience and not mind spending plenty of time standing in the water.

Dock jumping can be a lot of fun for you and your dog, it is good exercise for you and great exercise for your pup. No matter which training method you decide to use, keep tossing the target a little higher and further to encourage your dog to continue working harder. Perhaps one day you and your pup can compete in the world championships!

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Defining Tasks

Dock jumping is a lot of fun for both you and your dog, as long as he either likes water or playing fetch. Even if he doesn't meet both, you can always work with your dog to teach him whichever of the two skills he doesn't have. You will also need a place to practice; for best results, use a lake with both a sloping shore and a dock. While you can use the command "fetch" for this trick, you may want to come up with another one that is reserved for this particular activity.

Along with all of this, you should have a pocket full of treats, a nice big fluffy towel, several of your dog's favorite toys, and of course, tons of patience. Oh, and be ready to get wet yourself, as you can count on it during the early phases of training. Be patient, let your pup learn to swim out to fetch the toy back first before having him jump off the dock and before long your dog will be trying to beat the current world record of 25 feet.

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Getting Started

Training your dog to dock jump is going to be a lot of fun, but there are a few things you need to get started and ensure a successful result. To start with, you need a place to practice; a lake with a sloping shore and a dock are your best bet. Then, of course, you will need a few special toys just for when you go out dock jumping. Always carry a bag of treats to reward your pup, and of course, be patient--each dog learns at his own pace.

One word of caution, be sure you know what your dog is jumping into. Check that the water is deep enough and is not stagnant. Some lakes and ponds can contain bacteria or algae that can make your furry friend seriously ill.

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The Lakeshore Method

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1

Swim first

Start out at the lake by wading out into the lake with your dog until you are waist deep.

2

Paddle time

Let your dog spend a little time paddling around to get used to swimming if he isn't already.

3

Toss a toy

Toss a floating toy out into the water a few feet. If your dog retrieves it, give him a reward.

4

Gain distance

Toss the toy out a few feet at a time until your pup gets comfortable retrieving it.

5

Move to the dock

Now you can move to the dock and repeat the process until your pup is soaring from the dock after his toy.

The Standing Start Method

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1

Hit the dock

Take your dog out onto the dock and walk him to the end.

2

Toss

While your dog waits, toss a floating toy out into the water.

3

Walk back

Walk your dog back to the point at which you came onto the dock.

4

On his way

Release your dog.

5

Over the edge

Give your dog the command you have chosen for dock jumping and send him on his way to get the toy.

6

Say thank you!

When your dog does exactly what is expected of him be sure to reward him with plenty treats and praise.

The Place a Toy Method

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1

Hit the lake

Take your dog out to the lake, preferably where there is a beach you can work from.

2

Get ready

Have your dog sit and stay.

3

Place the toy

Place the toy a few feet away and closer to the water.

4

Fetch

Have your dog retrieve the toy and repeat this process, going closer to the lake each time.

5

On to the lake

Work your way out into the water by tossing the toy out into the lake a little farther each time. Each time he retrieves it, give him a reward and lots of praise.

6

On the dock

Time to move out to the dock and let your pup enjoy the sheer joy of dock jumping.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 11/19/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Riley Ryan

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Golden Retriever

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18 Months

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Question

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Counter surfing

June 20, 2022

Riley Ryan's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shell, First, work on the Leave It command from the article linked below for surfing that happens when you are present. Leave It method- the first part of that method that involves food. Gradually work up to pup leaving harder foods alone - like kibble - treats - chicken - hotdogs - until pup can leave food on the floor alone when told that command while you are there to enforce it and prevent pup from grabbing it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For surfing that is happening while you are out of the room, I recommend creating an aversion to jumping on the counter itself. There are a few ways to do this. You can place something like a scat mat on the counter and put a food temptation further back on the counter just out of reach - when pup jumps up the mat gives a static shock - nothing harsh but its uncomfortable and surprising. You can also set up Snap Traps covered lightly with unfolded napkins. When pup touches them on the edge of the counter, they will jump up and make a snapping sound - startling pup. These are designed for this type of purpose so won't actually close on pup like real mouse traps would - don't use real mouse traps because of the risk of injury. You can also stack metal pot lids and pans precariously on the counter. Tie a strong string like twine through all of them and back tie the whole contraption to something secure so that when they fall they can't fall all the way to the floor and hit pup, then tie another string to the lid or pan that's supporting the precarious set up and tie the other end of that string to a safe food booby trap, like a whole bagel sitting on the counter. The idea is that when pup jumps up and grabs the food, they will pull the objects over because of the string attached to the bagel when they grab it and create a loud crashing noise that will surprise them. Because of the back tie string the objects should not fall on pup though. With all of these setups, you will need to set up a camera to spy on pup from the other room and be ready to run in and remove any food left on the counter or floor, so that pup doesn't return to the scene of the crime once things are calm and eat the food anyway - otherwise they may decide that its still worth it to jump up. You will need to practice this setup often with pup on different parts of the counter and with different foods. Don't use any food that could harm pup if they were to swallow it - like chicken bones, grapes, chocolate, xylitol, nuts, garlic, or onion. When not practicing the trap, keep counters clean and pup confined away from the area or tethered to you with a hands free leash until pup has thoroughly learned the lesson - jumping up and not being surprised and potentially grabbing food, will negate your training efforts - you want pup to think that the counter is always suspicious now so they give up on jumping up. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 21, 2022

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Bear

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Flat Coated Retriever

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7 Years

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Hey wag trainer, Bear and I have been working on dock jumping and we go to the creek all the time and he’ll do it for hours in like 90 degrees heat and loves it but when we go to the lake and try it off the dock (which is only 4-6 in off the water) he is very hesitant, he won’t jump in. Any advice? Thank you! -Alex

May 26, 2019

Bear's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alex, If the creek doesn't have a drop off but he is simply launching into the water from the shore, then it is completely normal for him to be hesitant still off of the dock. The two are very different in his mind. First, I suggest finding a friend who has a dog who is used to jumping off of a dog and have him watch that dog do it regularly. Set up times to go to the lake with this dog often until he starts jumping in himself. Ideally, this should be a dog he really enjoys being around. Have everyone besides him in the water (be careful around the dogs in the water so they don't try to climb on you), and your dog left on shore with only jumping off of the dock as his way into the water. Encourage him excitedly but don't drag him in. Expect him to just step off of the dock into the water, or awkwardly 'jump/fall' into the water his first 10 or so attempts. That's okay, praise him for the effort! He needs to get over his fear of making the leap off of something before you will start getting his jumping distance back. Don't worry about distance right now - just on getting of the dock. Go back to baby steps of simply encouraging him into the water with confidence and praise, and making jumping in look fun by having everyone else in the water with that as his only means to get in normally (have a safe way for him to get back out though), and let him watch another dog make the jump over and over to show him how its done. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 27, 2019


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