Training a dog to show in obedience is a great way to build a very special relationship with your dog. The purpose of obedience competition, as stated in the AKC's obedience regulations, is "to demonstrate the usefulness of the purebred dog as a companion to man." In obedience competition, dogs are judged on performance only. Appearance does not count. There are three levels of competition: Novice, Open, and Utility. Obedience titles are obtained by achieving three qualifying scores at each level. A dog who is spayed or neutered can compete, as they can in other dog sports, like agility and hunting tests. AKC obedience competition is only available to purebred AKC dogs, but mixed breeds can compete in UKC obedience. A dog who appears to be purebred but doesn't have AKC papers can get a special number
Great Adventures with Your Dog AKC Obedience Competition Exercises
Description of Exericise
Heel on Leash and Figure 8 Stand for Examination Heel Off Leash Recall
Heel Off Leash and Figure 8 Drop on Recall
Retrieve Over High Jump Broad Jump Sit-Stay, Out of Sight Down-Stay, Out of Sight Utility
Directed Retrieve Moving Stand and Exam
Includes sitting at halt, about turns, changes of speed
Done off leash; exam done by judge, handler six feet away Same as heel on leash, but performed off leash
Come when called from a sit-stay, 35 feet away
Off leash, handler 30 feet away, one minute, with group of dogs Same as above, except three minutes
Same as in Novice
Dog must stop and lie down while coming
Dog stays while dumbbell thrown, then retrieves and sits
Jump height equals the dog's shoulder height
A long jump twice the distance of the high jump
Done for three minutes with handler out of dog's sight
Done for five minutes with handler out of dog's sight
Dog stands, stays, lies down, sits, and comes with hand signals only Dog finds object with handler's scent on it
Dog retrieves one of three gloves Dog stays in stand while handler keeps moving; judge does exam Dog runs away from handler for 40 feet, sits and jumps as directed called an ILP number in order to compete. Copies of the obedience regulations are available free of charge from the AKC at their Web site at akc.org.
The easiest way to get started showing your dog is to take a class to learn how to do it. There are two types of classes, one for each of the two types of showing: obedience classes and handling classes, which teach you how to show in breed. As mentioned above, joining a dog club is a good way to get started showing dogs. Members can share their knowledge with you. Also enjoying the company and support of club members at shows makes the shows much more enjoyable.
If you cannot find classes, there are great videos on obedience training. A wealth of information is available by simply going to a show and watching. Once you feel you are ready to give it a try, the place to start is at a match. This is a practice show available for both breed and obedience showing. More about this below.
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