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What Does It Take To Earn An Obedience Title?

by Lisa Frankland

The obedience exercises are designed to demonstrate the usefulness of the purebred dog as a companion to man. The Novice exercises test the dog’s ability to perform the basic commands-heel, sit, down, stay, stand, and come. They are not called basic because they are easy, but rather because they are considered to be the commands that every dog should understand and are the foundation for all other training. The Open and Utility exercises are adapted mainly from hunting and herding commands. The first three titles all build on one another and must be earned consecutively; your dog must have a CD before it can compete in Open, and needs to have a CDX before it can compete in Utility. A qualifying (passing) score in any class requires earning at least half the available points in each exercise with a total score of 170 or better out of the 200 possible points. The top four qualifying teams in each class are awarded first through fourth place, though all titles with the exception of the OTCH are noncompetitive. In the event that two or more dog-and-handler teams end up with tied scores for an award, the judge asks each team to perform the novice heel free exercise to determine the winner.

In addition to the American Kennel Club (AKC), other registries that offer obedience titles include the United Kennel Club (UKC), States Kennel Club (SKC), and the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA-it’s obedience trials are open to all breeds), as well as Kennel Clubs in Canada and other countries. Title requirements and rules may vary from AKC’s; please check the obedience regulations of the registry you are interested in earning titles in before entering a trial.

Being developed as an all-purpose, working farm dog, Kerry Blue Terriers typically excel in obedience, while their natural Irish exuberance and breathtaking jumping style makes them born crowd pleasers and can bring a smile to even the most jaded judge’s face. Kerries are considered to be “above average” in trainability and intelligence (Coren, 1992), and have earned every AKC obedience title offered, including the coveted Obedience Trial Champion.

The best way to learn more about obedience is to go to an obedience trial and watch the dogs and handlers in action. Every library stocks at least a few training books, and obedience classes are offered in most areas. Earning any obedience title is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. You and your dog will learn to understand and appreciate each other more than you ever thought possible. Don’t think of it as imposing your will on your dog think of it as an interspecies Berlitz course!

Level: Novice (basic commands, part of the heeling done on lead)
Title: Companion Dog (CD)

Requirements for Title:
Three passing scores under three different judges.
1. Heel on Leash and Figure Eight* 40 points
2. Stand for Examination 30 points
3. Heel Free 40 points
4. Recall 30 points
5. Long Sit (1 minute, handler in sight) 30 points
6. Long Down (3 minutes) 30 points
7. Maximum Total Score 200 points
* Although heeling looks simple, it is actually the most difficult exercise to perform correctly. Points can be lost for the dog lagging, forging (walking too far ahead), going wide, crowding, not sitting when the owner stops, sitting slow, sitting crooked, etc. On the figure eight, the dog must change pace continually to stay in heel position, thus making it the hardest part of the heeling exercise.

Level: Open (all off lead, jumping and retrieving added)
Title: Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)
Requirements for Title:
Must have a CD.
Three passing scores under three different judges.
1. Heel Free and Figure Eight 40 points
2. Drop on Recall 30 points
3. Retrieve on Flat 20 points
4. Retrieve over High Jump 30 points
5. Broad Jump 20 points
6. Long Sit (3 minutes, handler out of sight) 30 points
7. Long Down (5 minutes) 30 points
8. Maximum Total Score 200 points

Level: Utility (all off lead, hand signals and scent discrimination added)
Title: Utility Dog (UD)
Requirements for Title:
Must have a CDX.
Three passing scores under three different judges. This is the most difficult of the three classes, as it requires the dog to give 100% of its attention.
1. Signal Exercise 40 points
2. Scent Discrimination, article #1 30 points
3. Scent Discrimination, article #2 30 points
4. Directed Retrieve 30 points
5. Moving Stand and Examination 30 points
6. Directed Jumping 40 points
7. Maximum Total Score 200 points Title: Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)
Requirements for Title:
Must have a UD.
10 combined qualifying scores from Open B and Utility B (a combined qualifying score is earned by getting passing scores in both Open and Utility at the same show). This requires a dog that can consistently qualify in both classes, and is a lot tougher than it sounds.

Title: Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh)
Requirements for Title:
Must have a UD.
Must earn 100 points by winning 1st and 2nd places in the Open B and Utility B classes against competition, which may include dogs that are already OTCh’s. (The OTCh point schedule is published in the AKC Obedience Regulations.) Just to give one example, a 1st place win in an Open B class with 24 dogs competing (a typical entry for the Southern California area) would give that dog 10 OTCh points; the 2nd place dog would receive 3.
Must have at least one 1st place against competition from an Open B class, one 1st place against competition from a Utility B class, and an additional 1st place win against competition from either class. This is an extremely difficult title to obtain-fewer than 100 dogs nationwide earn an OTCh each year.

Some recommended reading:
* Bauman, Diane. Beyond Basic Dog Training. Howell Book House, 1991.
* Bauman, Diane. Beyond Basic Dog Training-The Workbook. Alpine Publications, 1995.
* Coren, Stanley. The Intelligence of Dogs. Bantam Books, 1994.Handler, Barbara S. Successful
Obedience Handling-The New Best Foot Forward.
* Alpine Publications, 1991.

Some obedience-related web sites:
* AKC Web Page
* Heather Nadelman homepage: Links to the many obedience web sites.
* UKC Web Page
* UKC Novice Regulations
* UKC Open Regulations


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