Obedience trials are held throughout the year by obedience clubs affiliated with DOGS Victoria. Competing with your dog at an obedience trial can be a lot of fun and you and your dog can earn titles together. Before competing in a trial, competitors should obtain a copy of the Obedience Trial rulebook to become familiar with the rules and trial procedures. The booklet ‘Rules for the Conduct of Obedience Trials’ is available from DOGS Victoria. Assistance with ringcraft and how to prepare your dog for competition in an obedience trial is available from DOGS Victoria obedience clubs. Most clubs have trial practice rings where you can practice with the assistance of an instructor.
Obedience titles are awarded at different levels of competition, which increase in difficulty as each title is gained. Generally as you qualify for a title you then compete at the next level. Exercises at the starting level are mainly performed on lead. As you progress, the exercises increase in difficulty and complexity and a higher standard of work is expected. At the highest level of competition most exercises are performed without a lead and the dog is expected to perform tasks at a distance from the handler. Three qualifying certificates must be earned at any level to be awarded the title appropriate to that level. Once you have earned and applied for your title with DOGS Victoria the appropriate letters are added to your dog’s official pedigree name. The ultimate title in obedience is Obedience Champion (O CH) which requires additional qualifying certificates at a specified standard to be awarded at the top level of competition.
For each class level above Community Companion Dog there are 200 points available, you must score 170 or more to pass. You must also get at least 50% of the allocated points for every exercise, so you can’t fail one exercise completely and make up the points somewhere else. You need three passes under at least two different judges to obtain each title. Obedience trials have a single check in time for all entrants. You must be checked in and have your bitch vetted (some clubs also vet dogs, make sure you check) prior to the close of the allocated check in time. The check in time normally closes about 30 minutes before the trial starts. Prior to the start of the trial determine which ring you are in. Check with the steward for your ring to see if any dogs have been scratched or handlers are in other rings, these occurrences can dramatically change the expected time for you to be ready with your dog. Handlers with dogs in more than one ring can be judged out of order.
When in the ring, LISTEN very carefully to the judge and do exactly what you are told … no more, no less! And remember … you are out there as a team to have fun. There will always be another day to trial, but your relationship with your dog should never suffer due to perceived poor performance in the ring.
Community Companion Dog Title
The first level of competition is the Community Companion Dog class. The exercises for this class have a maximum of 100 points available, with a qualifying score of 75 points. The handler and dog must complete the following exercises; a heeling pattern on lead, stand for examination on lead, a recall and a 1 minute sit stay and a 2 min down stay. Three qualifying scores earn your dog the title of Community Companion dog (CCD). Your dog now competes at the next level.
Companion Dog Title
The next level of competition is Novice where most of the exercises are performed off lead. Your dog must complete a heeling pattern off lead, a stand for examination off the lead, recall, and either retrieve a dumbbell and return it to hand, or complete the change of position exercise followed by a 1 min sit stay and 3 min down stay. Three qualifying scores earn your dog the title of Companion Dog (CD). Your dog now competes at the next level.
Companion Dog Excellent Title
The Open class requires a higher standard of precision from the dog and the handler. Exercises required to be completed are an off lead heeling pattern, a stand for examination off lead, a recall including a drop at a distance from the handler, retrieving the dumbbell and returning it to the handler, either retrieving a dumbbell over the solid jump or a directed retrieve and either the broad jump or distance control followed by a 3 minute sit stay and a 5 min down stay with the handler out of sight.Three qualifying scores earn you and your dog the title of Companion Dog Excellent (CDX). You can continue competing in this class or you can move on to the next level of competition – the Utility class.
Utility Dog Title
In the Utility class, the dog is expected to perform more exercises at a distance from the handler, but under their direction. The exercises include, finding a ‘lost’ article and returning it to the handler, jumping over a specified jump, choosing an article from a selection of 12 using scent alone, performing a heeling pattern using only signals, not verbal commands, performing either speak on command, food refusal or a directed retrieve. This is followed by a group stand for examination and a 5 min down stay with the handler out of sight. Three qualifying scores give your dog the title of Utility Dog (UD). You may continue to compete in the Utility class. A further five qualifying scores of 185 points or higher will earn your dog the title of Obedience Champion (O CH).
Utility Dog Excellent Title
The next level of competition is the Utility Dog Excellent class. These exercises are the hardest of all. In this class the dog must perform these exercises; finding a ‘lost’ article when there is a decoy article, positions in motion, a scent discrimination exercise, directed sendaway and recall, distance control a multiple retrieve and a temperament test. Three qualifying scores earn your dog the title of Utility Dog Excellent (UDX). If a dog gains a further two qualifying scores over 185 points under two different judges they will earn the title of Obedience Champion rather than via the UD Class. Once an O Ch title is gained, a further five qualifying scores in UDX will earn your dog the Obedience Grand Champion title.