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AKC Obedience

Obedience training is the foundation upon which all canine activities are based, whether conformation, agility, tracking, search & rescue, service dogs, fieldwork, etc.

In 1933, when AKC Obedience competition began, the concept behind obedience training was to develop a very close working relationship between human beings and dogs, while demonstrating the usefulness and enthusiasm of dogs. This concept remains as important today as it was when the program was developed.

There are several levels of obedience, such as the long-standing classes of Novice (CD, Open (CDX) and Utility (UD). A higher level of competition was added in recent years, which includes Utility Excellent (UDX) and Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH). The newest title is to be awarded to the winning dog at the National Obedience Invitational. The dog that wins this AKC National Obedience Invitational becomes the National Obedience Champion for the year. This is the only dog that can carry that distinction.

AKC Obedience Trials were developed to foster training, as well as, to demonstrate dogs' willingness, capabilities and enjoyment of working with and very closely with humans.


Getting Started in Obedience

Obedience Trials test a dog's ability to perform a prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored. In each exercise, you must score more than 50 percent of the possible points (ranging from 20 to 40) and get a total score of at least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog gets that magic 170 qualifying score, he's gotten a "leg" toward his title. Three legs and your dog has become an Obedience-titled dog! There are 3 levels at which your dog can earn a title and each is more difficult than the one before it. You may see levels divided into "A" and "B" at a trial; "A" classes are for beginners whose dogs have never received a title while "B" classes are for more experienced handlers.

Novice: The first level, Novice, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog (CD) title. The title actually describes what is expected of your dog: demonstrating the skills required of a good canine companion. The dog will have to heel both on and off leash at different speeds, come when called, stay (still and quietly!) with a group of other dogs when told, and stand for a simple physical exam.

Open: The second level, Open, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title. He must do many of the same exercises as in Novice, but off-leash and for longer periods. Additionally, there are jumping and retrieving tasks.

Utility: The final level results in a Utility Dog (UD) title. These are the cream of the crop. In addition to more difficult exercises, the dog also must perform scent discrimination tasks.

OTCH and UDX: The best of the best can go on for more titles. Utility Dogs that place in Open B or Utility B classes earn points toward an Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title. Utility Dogs that continue to compete and earn legs in both Open B and Utility B at 10 shows receive the title Utility Dog Excellent (UDX).

NOC (National Obedience Champion): This prestigious title is earned by the dog who wins the annual American Kennel Club National Obedience Invitational. To be invited to participate in the Invitational, each dog must be ranked in the top 25 dogs in the country by number of OTCH points, or ranked in the top three of their respective breeds by OTCH points.

Sounds like fun and you want to get going. Here are some ideas and resources:

1. Don't wait! Puppy kindergarten classes are designed for 2 to 5 month old dogs and really focus on the very basics of training. Many basic training classes start puppies at 5 to 6 months of age. And, just like kids, puppies pick up lessons very quickly when learning is made into a fun game.

2. Your local dog club may hold classes taught by people knowledgeable in the sport that can help you train for these exercises. There are 5 kinds of dog clubs to check out: Obedience Clubs, Tracking Clubs, All-Breed Clubs (devoted to the entire dog experience), Group Clubs (devoted to a variety group, like Toys or Terriers), and Local Specialty Clubs (devoted to one breed). There may be either one, several or all of these in your area that either hold classes or publishes newsletters with helpful information. Getting involved with a club can teach you many more useful things about your dog.

3. Most of these clubs also have the Canine Good Citizen program. Some of them administer the test as part of their classes and some sponsor the test at events such as dog shows, humane society days, county fairs, or other dog activities.

4. Your local library, bookstore or pet supply store will usually carry many different books on training your dog. The AKC Obedience Department or the AKC Library can provide you with a bibliography. Every author has different techniques and ideas - no one has a patent on the right method! Explore one or many; what works for your friend's dog may not work for yours.

5. Once you've gotten started, test your budding star's skill at matches. These are informal, inexpensive practice shows put on by dog clubs. While you won't earn legs toward your title, you will get a taste of doing it "for real."

6. Attend some trials to observe and mingle. You'll have the opportunity to see skilled dogs and handlers, as well as some who may need to hit the books some more! You can also meet people who have the same interests as you and can give you some tips or direct you to other classes and events in your area.

But the best part of watching a trial is to see the close bond that has developed between the dog and handler. Their total concentration on the task at hand gives way to the sheer delight of accomplishment that can be seen on the faces of both - and in the wag of a tail.

Experience the ultimate in companionship and teamwork. Taste the thrill of competition. Join an Obedience training class and participate in Obedience trials. You and your dog will have fun!


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