What is Competition Obedience all about?
Competition obedience is first and foremost about having a dog that lives well in the home and in public. Developed in the 1930s, Obedience is one of the AKC’s oldest sporting events. From walking on and off-leash to retrieving and jumping, or demonstrating your dog’s ability to stay, Obedience trials feature dogs that are well-behaved at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. It is essential that the obedience dog demonstrates willingness and enjoyment while it is working with the handler.
Whether or not you want to compete, every dog owner should consider some form of obedience training. It’s the best way to establish good communication skills between you and your dog and to make sure that your dog is the most well-behaved one in your neighborhood!
Competition Obedience begins with training. In American Kennel Club Obedience from which almost all the DOCOF Clubs and organizations derive, there are three main levels or titles that owners and handlers seek. In each level there are exercises that the team must perform. The team begins with 200 points and errors result in points deducted. In order to qualify at a show (called a Trial) the team must keep more than 170 points and more than 50% of the points available in each exercise.
The Regular Classes are:
For the dog just getting started in obedience. Exercises include:
Heel on Leash and Figure Eight — show whether the dog has learned to watch its handler and adjust its pace to stay with the handler.
The second level includes more complicated exercises, which teach the dog to do a variety of tasks and to follow commands either by voice or signal. Exercises include:
The third and highest level of regular obedience competition. Exercises include:
Role of the Judge
The judge must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the class. Judges are not permitted to inject personal variations into the exercises, but must see that each handler and dog execute the various exercises exactly as described in the AKC Obedience Regulations. The judge must carry a mental picture of the theoretically perfect performance in each exercise and score each dog and handler against this standard.
A qualifying score in the judge’s book is his or her certification that the dog has satisfactorily performed all the required exercises. The judge will not disclose the scores until the conclusion of the judging, but will immediately inform a handler after the group exercises (or immediately following the last exercise in Utility) if his or her dog received a qualifying score.