One of the first foundational steps to take in training your dog for the K9 sport of dock diving is to pick out the right dog toy for him to catch. To determine which toy is best for your dog, you must first take into consideration your dog and your plans in the sport itself.
Will your dog catch anything you toss?
If your dog is a picky player and is choosy about what he will or won’t catch, be sure the toy you choose to throw off a dock for him is something he is willing to go after and retrieve.
What gets your dog the most excited?
If your dog is willing to catch anything, you’ll want to limit your choices by considering what gets your dog the most excited.
When starting out and in the stage of getting your dog comfortable with jumping off the dock, your best bet is to pick out his favorite toy that also floats. There are many great options available when it comes to toys that float; most are available online or at your local pet store. Common choices to start with are bumpers, balls, or the popular Kong Wubbas.
Pick a toy that you will use strictly for dock diving.
Once you have found a toy your dog is willing to catch—specifically one that also floats and gets him excited—you need to establish a boundary around the toy and train your dog to understand the toy is only to be played with when dock diving. Doing so will help the toy maintain its value.
Next step: What are your plans and long-term goals for your dog and dock diving?
Once your dog has started the game and is gaining confidence jumping off the dock, it’s time to think about what your long-term goals are for your dog.
Is your plan to play only big air games?
If you and your dog are just enjoying playing big air games, then just stick with the toy that gets him the craziest. This statement is true ONLY if you are truly just playing for fun and to participate in big air games with no plans to play other games such as speed retrieve, extreme vertical, or fetch it.
Is your plan to get truly competitive?
To get the most out of the sport, I highly recommend making the entire sport about a single toy. In my experience, I want my dog to be as excited for the games as he is for big air. To make all the games equally exciting, I use the same toy for all disciplines of the sport. Right away I begin working to build value to the Dokken double rope super bumpers traditionally used in the games. I want my dogs to drive as hard regardless of the discipline they’re competing in.
All in all, when it comes to selecting the best dog toy for dock diving, keep these points in mind:
- Pick a toy that floats
- Pick a toy your dog will want to catch
- Pick a toy your dog will work the hardest for
- Pick a toy that can remain a dock diving toy only; the more work you do to build value behind any toy, the more excited your dog will be for that toy