Diving and Cairns: Dock Diving is a Splash!

By Gail Tranoy

Tink Diving
Tink diving in the pool

I have two dock diving cairns. One that was born to it and one that has struggled for three summers to learn to jump. It’s just like with people—some take to the water immediately, others don’t.

My girl was easy. Her mother was the very first dock diving Cairn. Tink was in the pool at 5 1/2 weeks old and we started dock diving at a year old. She watched mom and did what mom did. Easy peasy.

My boy was a different story. He loved the water but did not want to jump. Our first summer was spent with a trainer —me in the water trying to coax him in —it sort of worked. Next summer was a different trainer. This time it she was in the water and I was on the deck. Success!!! But we still didn’t have the height. Year three—we got into a real pool and I was advised by the trainer to use a life vest. We threw in his toy and after much coaxing he jumped in!!!!

We’ve taken a few lessons. But I would say once your dog knows how to jump, unless you’re trying to be the best of the best, I don’t believe you need lessons. When you jump, you get a couple of practice jumps before the day starts and then if you want, you are allowed a practice jump before each official “splash.”

Award Winning Diver

The best advice I have for getting started is to find a pool close by. Usually there is somebody willing to give a lesson. If you go onto the North American Dock Diving (NADD) or Dock Dogs websites, you can find out where there are pools. I would venture to say if you went to a trial, you could find somebody willing to give lessons. That’s how I found my last instructor who got Indiana to jump.

I use NADD as AKC accepts their “splashes” (you need 5 for a title). You can also have two people on the dock, one person to hold the dog and one person to throw the toy. Dock Dogs only allows one person. Also, NADD has their National in Orlando, Florida the same time as the Agility Invitational, the Obedience Classic and Conformation. Also, NADD has two divisions, lap—dogs under 16" and open —all other dogs. Tink came in 3rd place at her first national at less than 1.5 years of age in the Senior Lap division.

You really do not need to practice all the time. I’ve only taken lessons at the beginning of the season. This year I will try to put Tink into Air Retrieve, so we will be back with a trainer.

Speaking of Air Retrieve, there are different “events” you can do with your dog. NADD has Distance Jump, Air Retrieve and they are adding a Speed Retrieve as well. Dock Dogs also have various events.

I dock dive because it’s FUN!!! There is a camaraderie at the tri-als that I haven’t seen at Agility or Obedience and I do both of those as well and love both. This is a very relaxed environment. I’m so glad a found dock diving!