Consider taking your dog's basic obedience training to another level! Competition Obedience is a performance competition in which handler and dog work together to allow the dog to accomplish various tasks when asked. Training for obedience competition - whether you eventually trial and title or not - can strengthen and deepen the bond between you and your dog.
This companion sport dates back to 1936 in the U.S., when the first AKC-licensed obedience trial was held right here in Westchester County.
An obedience trial tests a dog's ability to perform a prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored. In each exercise, the dog must score more than 50 percent of the possible points, and get a total score of at least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog gets at least a 170 qualifying score, he has earned a "leg" toward his title. When your dog has earned three legs, s/he is awarded an obedience title. See photos from PCOTC's 2010 Obedience trials.
Obedience competitions separate dogs and their handlers by their experience. There are three levels at which your dog can earn a title - Novice, Open, and Utility - and each is more difficult than the one before it. Handlers without experience in a particular level may compete in the "A" class, while handlers are required to show in "B" classes when they have previously titled a dog at that level.
Dogs are not separated by breed in Obedience trials. The basic exercises in Obedience include variations of sit, down, stay, stand, heel, jump, retrieve, and scent discrimination.
In AKC Novice Obedience, the dog and handler demonstrate that they can do the following:
Heel on leash, including a Figure Eight around two people who act as "posts."
Heel Free, which means heeling off-leash in a pattern dictated by the judge.
Stand for Examination by the judge
Recall, meaning that the dog comes to its handler when called.
Long Sit. Sit and stay in place for one minute.
Long Down. Down and stay in place for three minutes.
In Open, the exercises are as follows:
Heel Free and Figure Eight off leash.
Drop on Recall. Come when called, then down when commanded. Upon command, complete the recall.
Retrieve on the Flat. Retrieve a dumbbell thrown on the ground.
Retrieve Over the High Jump. Retrieve a dumbbell over a jump.
Broad Jump. Jump over a long, low jump.
Long Sit. Sit and stay in place for three minutes.
Long Down. Down and stay in place for five minutes.
Utility, the third and highest level of Obedience competition, includes:
Signal Exercise. The dog responds to hand signals to stand, stay, down, sit and come. No voice commands are given.
Scent discrimination. The dog finds the handler's scent among a pile of wooden and metal articles.
Directed Retrieve. The dog follows a directional signal to retrieve one of three gloves.
Moving Stand and Exam. The dog must heel, stand, and stay as the handler moves away. The dog must stay for an examination by the judge and return to the handler on command.
Directed Jumping. The dog must go away from the handler, turn and sit. Then, the dog must clear whichever jump its handler indicates (bar jump or panel jump) and then return to the handler.
When you and your dog complete a level of competition by earning three legs at an AKC trial, you earn a title, a series of letters that may be added after the dog's name, as follows:
Novice: Companion Dog (CD)
Open: Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)
Utility: (Utility Dog)
Further titles include Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) for dogs that earn qualifying scores in both Open and Utility at the same trial, at 10 trials, and Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH), awarded to dogs with UD titles that earn 100 points and win three first-place awards, one in Utility and Open, plus a third first-place win in either class, under three different judges.