Training a dog for obedience competition is a lot of fun, IF YOU MAKE IT FUN! The basic rules for Obedience Trials can be obtained from AKC or from UKC (United Kennel Club) along with a number of other dog registry services that hold Obedience Trials.

To show in obedience you must have your dog registered with one of these agencies and at least 6 months old. Spayed and Neutered animals are welcome. Dogs that are purebred but have not been AKC registered can obtained an ILP Registration number by requesting this form and sending proof of spay/neuter.


Ok, so how do you start training? First you must socialize your puppy. Take the pup everywhere you can and get it used to loud noises, confusion, and lots of people, strangers petting it. Call your local Obedience Club and sign up for a Puppy Kindergarten class! It takes a minimum of one full year of constant training before most dogs are ready for a CD title, but the CGC is a good start!

Obedience training results in you having a dog that is well behaved and wonderful around people. In many ways obedience tests are non-competitive. Everyone that passes the test gets a ribbon and you don't have to "beat" any of the other dogs to earn a title. (Well, at least not until you get so hooked on it you decide to attempt an Obedience Trial Championship) You and your dog can simply compete against you last test score to see if you can do better!

What's the Easiest Title to get on my dog?

No obedience title is easy but the least expensive, and the one that takes the least training is the new AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate. (CGC) This test is open to all breeds and also mixed breeds.

Once your dog can walk on a leash without pulling you, will sit and stay for a stranger to pet him, can walk past a strange dog without giving it attention, doesn't jump on strangers if you stop to say hello it's half way there. The dog must sit and stay long enough for you to leave it, walk away and wait until you are told to call your dog. The dog must come when called without going to check out the building or a stranger first! Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd and handle distractions like a bike with a child going by, etc. The dog must also be capable of being left with a stranger while you go hide out of sight for several minutes. There is more to this test, but that covers the basics.

THIS IS THE EASIEST? Yes, it really is the easiest if only because you only have to pass it ONCE!

OK, so what does my dog need to know in order to pass the Novice level Obedience Test? (Earn the CD or Companion Dog title)

Your dog must PASS the Novice Level test THREE TIMES and when tested by THREE DIFFERENT JUDGES! Copies of the Rules are available from AKC, UKC, and several other registeries.

While you are taking these tests, you may only talk to your dog between exercises or to give a single command during the exercises. (EXAMPLE: The judge says "forward" and you get to say "heel" but no other talking or you loose points or Flunk!)

Basically, your pup must know how to heel on a leash, sit automatically when you stop, stay in "heel position" while you make a left and right turn. The pup must make a smart looking "about turn", be able to change pace from slow, normal, fast WITHOUT YOU SAYING A WORD! Your dog has to do all of this while staying in the proper "heel position" on your left side. This heeling exercise is done BOTH ON AND OFF LEASH.

The figure 8 exercise involves your dog heeling at your side while you go around two strangers making an 8 as you walk. As in all the test exercises, points or fractions of a point are taken off for any small deviation from perfection on the part of BOTH the dog and handler.

Next comes the stand for exam. Pretty basic...you get your dog to stand, tell it to stay, walk away 6 feet and wait while the judge approaches the dog, runs a hand over it's back, and walks away. The judge tells you to return to the dog, and you circle around back to "heel position" on the left side. You stand there till the judge says "exercise finished" and you and your dog can move. OH, did I tell you this is also done OFF LEASH and if the dog moves from where you left it you flunk? (points off if you goof, and if the dog moves just one paw but flunking covers about any other situation)

Finally you do a recall. You get your dog to sit, go to the other end of the ring when the judge tells you. Then you stand there till the judge tells you to call your dog. If all goes well, the dog comes when you call and sits right in front of you without you telling it to sit. Then you pray the dog doesn't move until the judge tells you "finish", at which point you tell the dog to go to "heel position". If the dog runs quicky to your left side and sits perfectly straight, you hold your breath until the judge says "exercised fininished".

Now you go and relax until "The Group Exercises". You and your dog, along with around 12 other dogs and handlers (or more) all go into the ring at once. You line up on one end of the ring, take off the dogs leash put your armband down by the dog and get it to sit. The judge will talk for what seems like forever before you are told "sit your dogs" at which time you can say "fido sit". Then you are told to leave your dog "fido stay" and you must walk to the other end of the ring, turn around and stand there for ONE FULL MINUTE before the judge tells you to go back. Oh, did I mention your dog has to stay sitting for that entire minute too and will loose points if it sniffs the floor and will flunk if it follows you, gets up or lays down? ROFL

Next you do "the group down". Same as the sit only this time the dog gets to lay down for 3 full minutes while you pray across the ring.

If when this torture is over, you and your dog have managed to earn a MINIMUM OF 170 points out of the possible 200... you get called back into the ring at the end of ALL THE DOGS IN NOVICE BEING TESTED. Then you get your Qualifying Score Ribbon, which is well deserved. If you FLUNK the TEST this is called an NQ. You and your dog NQ'ed. (NQ= Non Qualifying)

YEAH, you passed once, two more successful tries and you and your dog get a CD Title and Certificate!

The Next level is the "Open Obedience Test" where you earn a CDX or Companion Dog Excellent.

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