Obedience trials demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring and show the usefulness of the dog as a companion to humans.
The objective of obedience trials is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions.
Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge’s mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises. Accuracy and precision is vital, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are essential for a winning performance.
Traditional Obedience Classes
There are three levels of obedience competition; Novice, Open, and Utility. Each requires the dog to master a specific set of skills which becomes more challenging before your dog can advance to the next level.
The Novice class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. In the Novice class, dogs earn a Companion Dog (CD) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
The Open class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added. In the Open class, dogs earn a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
The Utility class, which includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class. In the Utility class, dogs earn a Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
Upon completion of the UD title, dogs may earn the Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) by qualifying in both the Open B and Utility B classes on the same day at 10 different trials.
The Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title is often referred to as the “PhD” for dogs, and is the highest obedience honor a dog can receive. To obtain an OTCH title, a dog and handler team must receive 100 points by placing first, second, third or fourth in the Open B or Utility B classes and a first place in Utility B, and first place in Open B and an additional first place from either class.
Obedience training is a great activity for your dog. It teaches your dog appropriate social behavior with both people and animals; helps correct annoying behaviors like jumping, digging, barking, and chewing; and keeps your dog entertained and happy.
It’s easier to train a puppy how to act properly than it is to retrain an adult dog. So the sooner you start training the better. Still, it’s never too late to train your dog—it just may take a little longer before an older dog accepts new behaviors but the benefits to your dog or your family are many.
Taking a class at a local training club is the best way to train your dog in obedience, but at-home practice is important too. Your instructor will help you know what and when to practice at home, while still giving time for your dog to have time for play too.
Puppy class is designed for dogs 3-5 months old. Young pups will learn basic household commands and how to socialize with people and other puppies. You’ll learn about nutrition, grooming, housebreaking, and troubleshooting common problems.
Basic class is for dogs 5 months and older. You’ll learn essential training commands to keep your dog safe, such as heel, sit, stand, down, stay, and come. Instructors will also teach you about proper nutrition, grooming, and solutions to common problems.
Companion events classes prepare you and your dog for competition in obedience and other AKC events like rally, agility and tracking. You’ll learn about the various levels of competition and titles available, how to teach your dog the required exercises, and will help you to learn the regulations for competing.
Additionally, Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Class may be a separate class or a part of a beginner class offered by training groups. It’s a program that is designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community.