The first in a progression of obedience titles awarded by the American Kennel Club is the Companion dog title. When a dog has achieved this title, his owner can place the letters CD after his registered name.
To earn a CD, the dog must score at least 170 out of a possible 200 points, must get at least half the points awarded for each exercise, and must do so under three separate judges at three separate shows. Each qualifying score is called a leg, so three legs equals a title.
Obedience trial classes are divided into sections A and B. Dogs working towards a CD compete at the Novice level. Novice A is for owners who have never owned or co-owned a dog that has earned a CD. Once a person owns or co-owns any CD dog (or if he is handling a dog owned by someone else) he must enter Novice B.
Novice classes consist of six exercises worth a total of 200 points. Each handler and dog team enters the ring with 200 points; the judge then deducts points based on errors made by either the dog or the handler. A zero is scored if the dog fouls the ring or leaves the handler.
· The first exercise is the “heel on leash and figure eight” worth 40 points. The rules require that the dog walk, on a loose leash, with the area between the dog's head and shoulders in line with the handler's left hip. The dog must remain in position as the handler goes fast, slow, left, and right and executes the figure eight on the judge's commands. Each time the judge says “halt,” the dog must sit straight by the handler's side. A zero is scored if the dog is unmanageable.
· The second exercise is the “stand for examination,” worth 30 points. The dog must stand in position and stay while being examined by the judge while the handler stands six feet away. A zero is scored if the dog moves away or shows shyness or resentment, growls, snaps, or sits.
· The third exercise is the “heel free,” which is 40 points. This exercise is performed and scored the same as the “heel on leash” except that the dog is off-leash and there is no figure eight.
· Exercise four is the “recall,” worth 30 points. The dog must sit and stay where left by the handler until it is called, then go directly to the handler and sit in front. A zero is scored if the dog does not stay, does not come on the first call, or does not sit close enough for the handler to reach the its head. The dog must then return to heel position on command, either by walking around the handler or swinging into place.
· Exercise five and six are done as a group. The “long sit” is for one minute; the “long down” for three minutes, both done off-leash with the handler standing across the ring. A zero is scored if the dog moves away from its place, visits another dog, or repeatedly barks or whines.
The AKC offers a free copy of its obedience regulations for those interested in getting involved in the sport. Copies are available by writing AKC, 5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 200; Raleigh, NC 27606-3390.