Dog Competition Gear: The Ultimate Guide

J&J Dog Supplies stands out as an industry leader in the world of dog competition equipment. Whether you are about to test your dog’s abilities in an intro obedience class or looking to clinch a regional agility title, we’re every owner’s one-stop shop for top-quality dog competition accessories, training tools, and equipment.

Our comprehensive guide to dog competitions provides a detailed overview of the most popular types of competitions. Our guide also shares what equipment and gear are needed for each sport or skill. Explore everything you need to know about the exciting world of dog competitions with J&J Dog Supplies!

Types of Dog Competitions


Dog agility combines canine athleticism, teamwork, and precision. Agility is a fast-paced sport that tests obedience and the speed of both the four-legged athletes and their dedicated human handlers.

In practice and competition events, dogs navigate through a challenging obstacle course often consisting of tunnels, weave poles, and A-frames. With the clock ticking, teams aim to complete the course in the shortest time possible.

Every dog agility competition is a testament to the dedication and tireless training of both the dog competitors and their handlers. These events attract a diverse range of breeds, including Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Golden Retrievers, and a multitude of mixed breeds.

One of the best parts of dog agility competitions is being able to see the extraordinary bond between humans and their dogs. Becoming a champion in this takes hours upon hours of training to develop the skills and trust needed to achieve top honors.


The world of professional dog obedience training is where manners and obedience take center stage. With high-value treats in hand and clickers at the ready, trainers work their magic, teaching dogs to follow commands with ease and confidence. In a competition setting, the display put on by trained dogs of all breeds and sizes is nothing short of impressive.

The road to becoming a dog obedience champion is serious business. From perfecting "heel" to "down," these canines must learn the ropes, developing advanced skills that can be performed at a moment’s notice. They must also master the art of loose leash walking, and become experts at "leave it," turning their noses away from tempting distractions. And when it's time for "recall," they sprint back to their handlers with boundless enthusiasm.

With dedication and patience, professional dog obedience training is a fantastic way to unleash your dog’s inner superstar.


Dog rally is a sport that combines elements of obedience training and agility, resulting in a high-energy routine between dog and handler. Each dynamic course is filled with signs indicating various commands and actions, including sit, stay, spin, weave, and more.

Teams show off their skills by moving seamlessly from one task to the next with accuracy and speed. In dog rally competitions, the emphasis is not on perfection but on teamwork and communication between dog and handler.

The courses are designed to challenge both the physical abilities and mental acuity of the participants. Teams must navigate the course within a set time limit, completing each task accurately and with their unique style.

Judges closely observe each performance, evaluating not just the technical execution but also the enthusiasm and connection between the team. Dog rally competitions celebrate the joy of training and the incredible partnership, love, and trust between dogs and their humans.

Is Rally Considered Obedience?

Rally obedience, commonly known as Rally or Rally-O, sets itself apart from traditional obedience training by emphasizing constant interaction between handlers and their dogs during a course marked with various stations or signs. This approach encourages the use of verbal cues, body language, and positive reinforcement, making Rally-O a distinctive and enjoyable dog sport.

Within the Rally-O arena, exercises range from fundamental commands to more intricate tasks, testing both the dog's obedience skills and the handler's ability to communicate effectively. Unlike traditional obedience, Rally-O competitions prioritize the team's ability to complete the course with enthusiasm and teamwork over rigid precision.

Rally obedience builds upon the foundational principles of traditional obedience training while introducing a cooperative, communicative, and enjoyable approach. It not only enhances a dog's behavioral skills but also deepens the bond between handlers and their canine companions.

What Is the Difference Between Obedience and Rally AKC?

The difference between obedience and Rally AKC (American Kennel Club) lies in their approach to training and the practical application of canine behavior in everyday situations. Obedience training often focuses on achieving precision in commands and behaviors. It's like teaching a dog to be on its absolute best behavior, ensuring that commands are executed with impeccable accuracy. Obedience training is the foundation for a well-behaved dog but may be more formal and rule-oriented.

On the other hand, Rally AKC, also known as Rally-O, takes a more real-life, practical approach. It encourages behaviors such as sitting, heeling, leaving items, halting, and coming when called, much like what you'd expect from a well-behaved dog during daily activities. Rally-O mimics the kind of behavior we appreciate in our dogs as they navigate the real world, making it more like being basically well-behaved in the course of daily life.

Obedience training provides a solid framework for teaching specific commands, while Rally-O takes those commands and weaves them into a dynamic and interactive course that mirrors the challenges of everyday situations. It's about not just knowing what to do but also applying that knowledge effectively in various scenarios, making Rally AKC a practical and enjoyable way to enhance a dog's behavior and responsiveness.

What Is the Difference Between Rally Obedience and Obedience Trial?

In Rally Obedience, each dog and handler team works individually within the ring. This format allows for undivided attention on the specific tasks and signs presented throughout the course. Handlers guide their dogs through a series of stations, performing various behaviors as indicated by the signs. Rally-O is all about the partnership between the handler and the dog, as they navigate the course together, making it a more personal and interactive experience.

Conversely, in traditional Obedience Trials, while the initial exercises are often performed individually, they are followed by a crucial group component. At every level of obedience, there is a group stay exercise where dogs must sit, down, or stand (depending on the level) close to other dogs. This group aspect introduces an additional layer of challenge as dogs are required not only to obey their handlers but also to maintain self-control and discipline amidst the distractions of other dogs.

Rally Obedience places a strong emphasis on the individual teamwork between the handler and the dog in a one-dog-at-a-time setting, while traditional Obedience Trials incorporate group stays to assess a dog's obedience and social behavior in a more challenging, multi-dog environment. Both activities contribute to a well-rounded and obedient canine companion, but they do so with distinct training and evaluation methods.

What Are the Three Levels of Competition in AKC?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) provides a structured framework for obedience competition, comprising three distinct levels or classes: Novice, Open, and Utility. These classes serve as a comprehensive gauge of a dog's obedience skills and are designed to progressively challenge both the canine and their handler.

The Novice class serves as the entry point for dogs in AKC Obedience competitions. Here, dogs and their handlers showcase fundamental obedience skills, such as heeling on a leash, coming when called, and maintaining a stationary position. Novice training focuses on laying a solid foundation, instilling the basics of obedience that are essential for more advanced levels.

After successfully navigating the Novice class, dogs advance to the Open class. In this intermediate level, the complexity of tasks escalates. Dogs are required to perform exercises off-leash, retrieve objects like a dumbbell, and navigate hurdles. The Open class evaluates a dog's ability to obey commands with a higher degree of precision and consistency.

The Utility class represents the pinnacle of AKC Obedience competition. At this advanced level, dogs and handlers face intricate challenges, including scent discrimination exercises, directed retrieves, and more sophisticated heeling patterns. Utility class demands the utmost precision and reliability, truly showcasing a dog's mastery of obedience.

What Are the Levels of AKC Rally Obedience?

AKC Rally Obedience offers an exciting path for dog enthusiasts to showcase their canine companions' obedience skills and collaborative spirit. It comprises three distinct levels: Novice, Advanced, and Excellent, each marking a significant stage in your dog's training and competition journey.

In the Novice level, handlers and their dogs embark on their Rally Obedience adventure. This stage emphasizes fundamental obedience skills such as sitting, heeling, and responding to specific commands. The course includes signs that cue various tasks, with a primary focus on establishing a solid foundation of communication and obedience. Novice Rally serves as an excellent starting point, whether you're new to the sport or seeking to refine your dog's basic obedience skills.

Progressing to the Advanced level signals a higher level of proficiency in Rally Obedience. The Advanced course introduces more intricate challenges for both you and your dog. As you navigate the course, you encounter additional signs and must execute more advanced behaviors. Precision and seamless teamwork become increasingly crucial, making this level engaging and fulfilling for participants who have honed their foundational skills in the Novice class.

The Excellent level represents the pinnacle of AKC Rally Obedience competition. Here, the most skilled teams shine. The course is demanding, featuring complex exercises, including off-leash work and advanced commands. Excellence in this class signifies not only your dog's exceptional obedience but also your ability to guide them effectively. It serves as a testament to the strong bond and unwavering dedication you've cultivated with your canine partner throughout your Rally Obedience journey.

Scent Work

Scent work (also known as nosework) is a unique sport that is incredibly beneficial for dogs and also fulfilling for owners. Scent work training classes and competitions are modeled after the work of professional detection dogs (bomb, drug, etc.). The sport is extremely popular; classes and trials are available across the United States and internationally.

As owners quickly learn during play and walks, using their noses is natural for dogs. Experts vary on the strength of a dog’s sense of smell, but it ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than that of a human.

Scent work sports put your dog in charge as they use their natural skills to identify and share with their handlers where a target odor (birch, anise, clove and others) is hidden. Handlers learn how to read the subtle signals of their dogs as they locate odor. A special bond develops as a skilled detection team is formed.

Scent work is unique in several ways. First, dogs search one at a time. This is a great option to build confidence in timid, fearful or anxious dogs. It also provides dogs that are not comfortable around other dogs a sport they can enjoy. No obedience training is required, and all that sniffing burns off a lot of canine energy.

In competition, finding the target odor within the specified time frame is the name of the game. Prior to competition, participants are wise to practice at home or in the community. Scent work kits are small, easy to use and afford owners the chance to create their own searches in a variety of locations and weather conditions to prepare for trial day - or just have fun with their dogs.

When asked what she loves most about the sport, 15-year professional detection dog handler, American Kennel Club scent work judge and scent work instructor Miriam Rose replied, “After a long career of helping dogs and their people live happily ever after together, I have yet to find a more joyful and fulfilling activity for both ends of the leash than Scent Work. The benefits are profound and nearly innumerable.”          


Professional dog tracking is a sport where highly trained canines showcase their exceptional scenting abilities in an impressive display of skill. Similar to nosework, tracking requires an elite set of olfactory skills, hours of training to recognize various scents, and the ability to track down specific targets with precision and speed.

For those who are new to the sport, each competing dog is released on a course to follow scent trails that are carefully laid out, tracing every twist and turn, often in challenging and uneven terrain. Scents are located on the ground (instead of in various elevated locations like nosework) and require the dog to work to unravel scent puzzles.

This sport showcases each dog’s amazing ability to discern and follow individual scents amidst a sea of distractions. It's a one-of-a-kind dog sport that pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved through teamwork, training, and the power of a dog's sense of smell.


Flyball is regarded as an ultra-fast-paced sport that combines speed, agility, and teamwork, all tailored to our four-legged friends. This sport is essentially a relay race where teams of dogs compete against each other, showcasing their lightning-fast reflexes and impressive athleticism.

During a competition, dogs line up, eagerly awaiting their turn to dash down a track, hurdling over a series of jumps to reach a specially designed box.

As fast as they can muster, each dog presses a spring-loaded pad, causing a tennis ball to shoot out. Grabbing the ball in mid-air, they sprint back to their handlers, passing the baton to the next dog in line. Each flyball competition is an overwhelming display of barks, speed, and excitement that delights the dog participants, their handlers, and spectators alike.

If you have a high-energy dog who loves to run, flyball competitions are an outstanding choice to help build skills and release energy. Teams, composed of dogs of different breeds and sizes, work in harmony with their human handlers to showcase their speed, agility, and precision. The sport not only celebrates the physical abilities of dogs but also the bond between dog and handler, as they communicate above the cheers, barking from other dogs, and other distractions.


Dog herding competitions are thrilling events that showcase the incredible skills and instincts of herding breed dogs. In these competitions, dogs work closely with their handlers to control and maneuver livestock, usually sheep or ducks, through a designated course. Breeds that are naturally skilled at this sport include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, and German Shepherds.

During training, and competitions, herding dogs demonstrate their ability to respond to commands, anticipate the movements of the livestock, and employ a range of herding techniques. These competitions are not only a display of the dogs' unique talent, but also a testament to the strong bond and trust held between the dogs and their handlers. Spectators also find this to be a wonderful sport to watch, as it is easy to become captivated by each dog’s ability to guide livestock and showcase their intelligence, agility, and problem-solving abilities.

Participants in dog herding competitions undergo rigorous training to develop the necessary skills and instincts to become a champion. Handlers learn to communicate effectively with their dogs through a combination of verbal cues, whistles, and body language. The dogs, in turn, learn to interpret these signals and respond accordingly.

Herding competitions typically consist of various tasks and challenges, such as driving the livestock through gates, penning them within a confined area, or separating specific individuals from the flock. The precision and speed with which the dogs execute these tasks are evaluated by judges, who assess their performance based on criteria such as control, obedience, and overall strategy.

Dock Diving

For dogs who love being in the water, there’s no better sport than dock diving. Professional dock diving is an exhilarating and fast-growing sport that showcases the incredible power, determination, and dogs’ love of water from a wide array of breeds. It is also one of the most beloved dog sports to watch as a spectator.

Whether jumping for height or distance, the sport requires dogs to exhibit strength, speed, and a keen sense of timing. To excel in professional dock diving, both dogs and their handlers undergo rigorous training and preparation. Dogs are taught to jump off the dock with proper form, utilizing their hind legs to generate power and maintain balance in mid-air.

Handlers play a vital role in providing guidance and encouragement to their canine partners, ensuring they make precise jumps and reach their full potential. These skills are built by using a variety of training tools, including waterproof retrieval toys, to further elevate the dog’s sense of fun and enjoyment.

Competitions often include different categories, such as distance jumping, where dogs compete to achieve the longest jump, or vertical jumping, where dogs aim to reach the greatest height.

Gear for Specific Competitions

As you may have already guessed, having the right training tools, gear, and equipment is crucial for every one of the sports and skills listed above. Without the necessary resources, it is virtually impossible for a dog to succeed in their chosen area of expertise.

Serving as your dog competition gear experts, explore our top recommendations for each sport.

Agility Gear

Dog agility competitions require a wide variety of equipment to create an engaging and challenging course for dogs to navigate. Arguably, it is the dog sport that requires the greatest number of tools and equipment to perform, as courses can be complex and large in size.

In addition to building the agility course, trainers must also be equipped with training accessories and tools, such as handheld clickers, treats, treat pouches, and more.

One of the key elements is the agility course itself. Courses vary in configuration, but they typically consist of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, A-frames, dog walks, teeter-totters, and see-saws. Explore a comprehensive list of some of the most frequently used pieces of agility training equipment that can be set up at home both indoors and outdoors.


Dog agility tunnels are exciting and versatile equipment used in agility training and competitions. These tunnels are flexible, lightweight, and typically made of durable materials such as nylon or vinyl. The tunnels come in various lengths and configurations, including straight tunnels, curved tunnels, and tunnels with multiple bends or obstacles inside.

To properly navigate the tunnel, dogs must enter the tunnel at the designated entry and traverse through it, emerging at the other end. Agility tunnels add an element of speed and uncertainty to the course, requiring dogs to navigate tight spaces, make quick turns, and maintain focus as they race through the tunnel. The tunnels are often collapsible, making them easy to transport and set up.

When starting out with agility training, this is often one of the most challenging obstacles to maneuver, as many dogs are afraid of entering the tunnel for the first time.

Weave Poles

Weave poles are a fundamental component of dog agility courses. These poles are typically arranged in a straight line or a staggered pattern, and dogs must navigate through them by weaving in and out as quickly as possible.

The poles are spaced closely together, requiring the dog to exhibit precision and agility as they move quickly through the obstacle. Training dogs to master weave poles involves teaching them to enter from the correct side, maintain a consistent rhythm, and navigate the poles with speed and accuracy. Weave pole performance is often evaluated based on the dog's ability to complete the weave entry, maintain proper form, and execute the weave poles smoothly and efficiently.

Weave pole exercises are not only physically challenging for dogs but also mentally stimulating, as they require focus, coordination, and quick decision-making.


Dog agility jumps are an essential element of agility courses, designed to test a dog's jumping ability, accuracy, and speed. These jumps come in various forms, such as standard bar jumps, tire jumps, and broad jumps.

Standard bar jumps consist of adjustable bars that dogs must clear while maintaining a good form. Tire jumps require dogs to leap through a suspended tire without touching it.

Broad jumps feature a series of wide boards that dogs must clear in a single leap.

Jumps are set at different heights and distances, challenging dogs to adjust their stride and jump technique accordingly.

The successful completion of jumps in agility competitions is evaluated based on the dog's ability to clear the obstacles cleanly, with speed, and without knocking down any bars or elements.

Strength & Balance Equipment

Strength and balance gear for dog agility refers to specialized equipment that helps dogs develop and improve their physical strength, stability, and coordination. This gear may include items such as balance boards, wobble cushions, balance discs, and fitness balls designed specifically for dogs.

These tools help dogs strengthen their core muscles and enhance their overall balance and body awareness. By incorporating strength and balance exercises into their training regimen, dogs can become more agile, reduce the risk of injury, and perform better in agility competitions.

The use of strength and balance gear allows handlers to target specific muscle groups and provide dogs with a well-rounded fitness routine to support their agility training.

Obedience Gear


Dumbbells are commonly used in dog obedience training as a tool for teaching retrieve exercises. These specially designed dumbbells are made of non-toxic materials, usually wood or plastic, and come in various sizes to accommodate different dog breeds.

The dumbbells are shaped with a smooth middle section and weighted ends, making them easy for dogs to hold and carry in their mouths. Through systematic training, dogs learn to fetch the dumbbell on command, hold it securely, and return it to their handlers.

Dumbbell training helps dogs develop focus, obedience, and coordination while enhancing their retrieval skills, which are essential in obedience competitions.

Wobble Boards

Wobble boards are a valuable tool in obedience training for dogs, helping to improve their balance, body awareness, and coordination. These boards consist of a platform or disk that is elevated on a rounded base, creating an unstable surface. Dogs are trained to stand or walk on the wobble board while maintaining their balance. This challenges their muscles and engages their core, contributing to their overall strength and stability.

By incorporating wobble boards into obedience training, dogs are better able to perform precise movements and maintain control in various obedience exercises. Additionally, wobble boards can be used to desensitize dogs to unstable surfaces, preparing them for potential real-life scenarios where balance and stability are crucial.

Pause Stations

Pause stations are a common feature in dog obedience training, providing dogs with a designated area to pause and wait for their handler's instructions. These stations can be simple mats or designated platforms where dogs are trained to halt and maintain their position until given further cues.

The use of pause stations helps develop impulse control, focus, and obedience in dogs. It teaches them to remain calm and composed in various situations, especially when they need to wait patiently before proceeding with the next command. Pause stations are particularly valuable in obedience competitions, where dogs are required to demonstrate precise and controlled movements, showcasing their ability to follow instructions and maintain composure.

Rally Gear


Dumbbells are also utilized in dog rally competitions as part of the exercise known as the "Retrieve Over High Jump." In this exercise, dogs are required to jump over a designated height hurdle and retrieve a dumbbell before returning it to their handler. The dumbbells used in rally competitions are typically made of wood or plastic and are available in different weights to suit various dog sizes and breeds. Dogs must demonstrate focus, accuracy, and obedience as they clear the jump, retrieve the dumbbell, and bring it back to their handler within a specified time limit.

Utility Articles

Utility articles refer to specific items that dogs are trained to identify and retrieve on command. These articles typically include objects such as metal dumbbells, gloves, and scent articles. Utility articles are used in the exercise known as "Scent Discrimination" in the advanced rally levels.

During this exercise, multiple identical utility articles are placed in a row, and the dog must accurately locate and retrieve the article that carries their handler's scent. The dog uses their scenting ability and memory to distinguish the correct article from the others. The handler's scent is typically transferred onto the utility article by having the handler hold it or carry it for a period of time before the exercise. The accurate identification and retrieval of the utility article demonstrate the dog's ability to discriminate scents and follow its handler's direction in rally competitions.

Training dogs to perform the scent discrimination exercise with utility articles requires careful scent introduction and extensive practice.

Pins & Patches

Pins and patches hold a special significance for participants. Pins are small, wearable badges that are often awarded to handlers and dogs in recognition of their achievements and accomplishments in the sport. These pins are typically designed with unique symbols, such as paw prints or rally-related imagery, and are worn on clothing or displayed on a pinboard. Handlers proudly collect and display these pins to showcase their participation and success in various rally events and levels.

Patches, on the other hand, are embroidered or woven designs that can be sewn onto jackets, bags, or other fabric items. Rally patches often feature the rally organization's logo, the dog's name, and various achievements earned throughout the dog's rally career.

Patches are an excellent way for handlers to commemorate their dog's progress, titles, and notable performances in the sport. They serve as a visual representation of the dog's dedication, training, and hard work in rally competitions.

Scent Work Gear

Scent Articles

Scent articles play a crucial role in dog nosework. These articles are typically small, porous objects, such as cotton swabs or cloth squares, that have been infused with a specific scent. In nosework competitions, dogs are trained to search for and identify these scent articles hidden in various environments, such as rooms, vehicles, or outdoor areas.

The dog must use their keen sense of smell to locate the target scent among a variety of distractions, signaling to their handler when they have found the correct scent article. Scent articles in dog nosework provide an essential tool for training and testing a dog's scent detection skills.

Scent Bags

Different from scent articles, scent bags are commonly used in dog nosework as a means of presenting and containing specific scents for the dog to detect. These bags are small, fabric pouches that can be easily opened and closed. The interior of the bag is designed to hold scent elements, such as essential oils or target odors.

Handlers place the desired scent inside the bag, ensuring it is well-contained and not directly exposed to the surrounding environment. The dog is then trained to search for the scent bag, using their sense of smell to locate and indicate where it is. Scent bags provide a controlled and portable way to introduce scents in dog nosework training, allowing for targeted exercises and effective scent discrimination practice.

Scent Boxes

Another type of scent tool used in nosework are scent boxes. These boxes are a valuable tool in dog nosework, helping to refine a dog's ability to search for and locate specific odors. These boxes are typically small containers, such as metal tins or plastic containers, that can be easily opened and closed. Inside the boxes, a piece of fabric or material is used to hold the scent of the target odor. Handlers strategically place the scent boxes in various locations, and dogs are trained to indicate the box that contains the target odor.

Essential Oils (Dog Safe)

The use of dog-safe essential oils in dog nosework is a common practice to introduce and present target scents for detection training. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that possess distinct odors. Handlers often choose specific essential oils that closely resemble the target odor they want the dog to detect. These oils are applied to cotton swabs or other absorbent materials, which are then placed inside scent containers or hidden in search areas for the dog to find. The use of essential oils provides a consistent and controlled method of presenting scents to dogs, enabling them to develop and refine their scent discrimination skills in nosework activities.

Handlers must always ensure that the essential oils used are safe for dogs and that proper dilution guidelines are followed to avoid any potential sensitivities or adverse reactions.

Tracking Gear


A properly fitting dog harness plays a crucial role in dog tracking activities, providing both comfort and control for dogs engaged in scent-tracking tasks. Tracking harnesses are specifically designed to distribute weight evenly across the dog's body, reducing strain on the neck and promoting proper alignment. They typically have padded chest plates and adjustable straps to ensure a secure and snug fit.

Specialty harnesses are equipped with attachment points for the tracking leash, allowing handlers to maintain a steady connection with their tracking dogs. The use of harnesses in dog tracking not only enhances the dog's comfort during long tracking sessions but also enables handlers to have better control and maneuverability, facilitating effective communication and direction while following scent trails.

Long Lines

Long lines are essential tools in dog tracking, providing handlers with a way to maintain physical connection and control over their tracking dogs while allowing them greater freedom to follow scent trails. These lines are typically made of durable materials such as nylon or leather and can range in length from 10 to 50 feet (or more). Handlers attach one end of the long line to the dog's tracking harness or collar, while the other end is held by the handler.

Flyball Gear

Flyball Box

A flyball box is a specialized piece of equipment used in dog flyball competitions. It is a spring-loaded box that contains a tennis ball, which is released when triggered by the dog's paws. During a flyball race, dogs are trained to approach the box at high speed, step on the box's pedal, catch the released ball, and quickly return to their handler.

Ball Launcher

A ball launcher, like the Dogtra Ball Trainer Pro, is a valuable tool used in dog flyball to propel tennis balls at high speeds, providing dogs with an exciting and challenging retrieval task. The launcher consists of a mechanism that propels the ball forward with force, mimicking the action of a powerful throw. Handlers use the ball launcher to send the tennis ball down the flyball course, prompting the dog to sprint, catch the ball, and return it to its handler.

Using a ball launcher adds distance and speed to the flyball competition, requiring dogs to showcase their athleticism, speed, and agility as they navigate the course and retrieve the ball.

Dock Diving Gear

Life Vests

Life vests play a vital role in dock diving. Just like humans wear life vests for safety in water activities, dogs also benefit from the added buoyancy and flotation provided by these specialized vests.

Dog-specific life vests are designed with adjustable straps and buoyant materials that help dogs stay afloat and maintain proper body position while swimming. They offer an extra layer of protection and reassurance, particularly for dogs who may be new to dock diving or those who are not strong swimmers.

Retrieval Toys

When training a dog for dock diving, retrieval toys are one of the most essential tools that handlers can utilize. These waterproof toys are specifically designed to be highly visible and floatable, making them easy for dogs to spot and retrieve. Popular retrieval toys used in dock diving include rubber bumpers, floating balls, or specially designed water toys.

How should you use a retrieval toy when training your dog for dock diving? Handlers strategically throw these toys into the water, enticing the dogs to leap off the dock, make impressive jumps, and swim toward the toy to retrieve it.

Retrieval toys in dog dock diving not only serve as a source of excitement and fun but also provide a clear target for dogs to focus on, enhancing their drive, speed, and accuracy during their jumps. These toys act as a reward and reinforcement for the dogs' successful dives, creating a positive experience for both the dogs and their handlers.


Ramps for dock diving are inclined surfaces that connect the dock to the water, allowing dogs to transition smoothly from the platform to the water's surface. For added safety, ramps are often made of non-slip materials to ensure traction and prevent dogs from slipping or injuring themselves during takeoff or landing.

Specific Equipment for Obedience & Rally

This chart provides a quick overview of all the equipment required to enter obedience and rally competitions. Most people do not personally own all the items on this list, but you can buy everything you need at J&J Dog Supplies!

Dog Competition FAQ

What Do Judges Look for in a Dog Competition?

In any dog competition, judges calculate scores based on a predetermined set of criteria to select the winners. The set of criteria that dogs are evaluated on depends on their sport of choice and their skill level. In agility competitions, for example, speed, precision, and total faults are the primary scoring factors. Alternatively, in dock diving, scores are calculated almost solely on the length or height distance that a dog jumps. Before entering a dog competition, always check with the governing body to request a scoring sheet to know what skills are most heavily prioritized.

What Are the Most Important Factors to Consider When Selecting Competition Gear?

When selecting dog competition gear, several key factors should be taken into consideration. First and foremost, the gear should be suitable for the specific competition or sport in which your dog will be participating. It should meet the requirements and regulations set by the organizing body to ensure eligibility.

Additionally, durability and quality are vital, as dog competition gear should be able to withstand rigorous use and maintain its functionality over time. Comfort and fit are also crucial, as gear that is uncomfortable or ill-fitting can hinder performance.

Finally, safety features should be evaluated to ensure the well-being of the dog, such as reflective elements for visibility, padding for protection, or secure fastenings to prevent accidents. By considering these factors, you can select competition gear that maximizes performance, safety, and comfort during your chosen activity.

How Do I Know When It's Time to Replace My Dog's Gear?

Knowing when to replace your dog's gear is important to ensure their safety and comfort. Keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear such as frayed straps, broken buckles, or significant damage to the material. If the gear is no longer in good condition or poses a risk of failure, it's time to replace it.

Are There Any Restrictions on the Types of Gear Allowed in Competitions?

Yes, in many cases. Before entering your dog in a competition, consult the governing organization to request a list of rules for all equipment and gear used. Not taking this essential step could lead to disqualification on competition day.

Before entering a dog trial event, all exhibitors are required to provide the following items that meet these qualifications:

  • Leash – All dogs must enter and leave the ring on a leash. A leash may be constructed of fabric or leather and long enough to provide slack for heeling. A 6-ft leash is required for the Novice group exercises.
  • Collar – All dogs must wear a well-fitted collar. Special training collars (electronic collars, prong collars) are prohibited.
  • Dumbbell – Used for the Open level retrieve exercises. Constructed of wood or non-wood (typically plastic). NO METAL dumbbells.
  • Scent Articles – Used for the Utility level Scent Discrimination exercise. Two sets of numbered, identical objects constructed of wood, metal, and/or leather. The sets are of different materials (for example, one set of metal articles and one set of leather articles).
  • Utility Gloves – Used for the Utility level Directed Retrieval exercises. Utility gloves must be “predominantly” white.