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