Obedience News and Updates

November 21, 2017

New Obedience Exercises Approved ~ Effective May 1, 2018

   The AKC Board of Directors reviewed a proposal by the Companion Events department regarding the Obedience Group Exercises at their October and November meetings. They had in-depth discussions on the recommendation to replace the Group Exercises in the Obedience Novice and Open Classes, as well as in the Preferred Novice, Preferred Open, Graduate Novice, and Team classes, with new exercises that will demonstrate a dog’s ability to stay. This was not a new subject, but rather has been a discussion among the Fancy and AKC for numerous years. The AKC wishes to thank the many participants for their suggestions over the last several months and years surrounding this topic. In looking at just the past ten years, below is a history of the subject of Group Exercises leading up to the decision of the AKC Board.

Obedience Regulations Review History       2007 – Present

2007 Obedience Advisory Committee – to discuss all the Obedience Regulations:

  • There were a large number of requests to change the Group Exercises and to eliminate the Open out of sight Group Exercise.
  • The OAC members were split about what to do.
  • Action was tabled. It was decided that AKC would conduct a survey of obedience judges to quantify the issue.
  • The 15-month survey took place from Oct 2007-Dec 2008. Judges reported every time a dog moved from the place where it was left in the Group Exercise.
  • According to the final report:
    • 30% of the dogs moved from the place they were told to stay during the Group Exercises
    • Of the 30%, 23% of the dogs interfered with another dog.

2013 Group Task Force - assembled to specifically review concerns regarding the Obedience Group Exercises:

  • Many suggestions were received. All the suggestions were reviewed and discussed.
  • The Committee made several recommendations to reduce interference. The recommendations were implemented in May 2014:
    • If a dog non-qualified during the individual exercises and in the opinion of the judge the dog demonstrated uncontrolled behavior, the judge must release the dog from performing the Group Exercises;
    • Dogs must be spaced with a minimum of 4 feet between each dog;
    • Require that dogs be under control when entering and exiting the ring;
    • If a judge observed any sign of aggression, or potential problems with the dogs as they were assembling outside of the ring to come in for the Group Exercise, the judge must excuse the dog and not allow them into the ring for the Group Exercise.

2014 Obedience Advisory Committee – to discuss all the Obedience Regulations:

  • This OAC received many suggestions regarding additional Group Exercise modifications.
  • The key additional Group Exercise recommendation was to keep the leash on the dogs in the Novice Group Exercises. This was implemented effective December 2015.

In late 2016 staff decided to hold another Group Exercise Task Force meeting. Meeting was held in June 2017:

  • In April, the names of the Group Task Force members were published and the Fancy wrote in many suggestions for changes to the Group Exercises.
  • These suggestions and all the previous suggestions were discussed during the June meeting.
  • The Task Force recommended the elimination or modification of the existing Group Exercises and the substitution of other exercises to demonstrate a dog’s ability to stay.
  • Surveys indicated that 66% of the fancy supported eliminating the Group Exercises, 19% were opposed and 15% submitted a variety of alternatives.
  • In October, staff supports the Task Force recommendations and submits to the AKC Board for review.
  • In November, Board approves the recommendations, which will become effective May 1, 2018.

   The responses received from many owners is that this is an interference issue among dogs in the Group Exercises and for some a safety issue. The idea that owners can train their dogs to stay, but they cannot be certain that the handler’s dog next to them has been as successful at training their dog to stay, was a strong voice to be heard; and the AKC survey showed this to be a real problem. A dog interfering with another dog, even if it does not result in an attack, impacts a dog’s training negatively in public places and in trials. 

New Obedience Regulations Effective May 1, 2018

   With the approved regulation changes, effective May 1, 2018, videos will be produced and distributed on the AKC Obedience/Rally YouTube Channel to demonstrate correctly performed exercises in an easy to view widespread platform in the coming month. In addition, if you are in attendance for the AKC Obedience Classic in Orlando in December, a demonstration of the new exercises will be performed. AKC Staff will monitor the changes to the classes and consider adjustments if they are needed. AKC thanks all the committee members who have served on Advisory Committees for the future of the sport, and the many participants, for their suggestions leading up to this decision.

The approved obedience regulation changes may be viewed here.

May 12, 2017

The obedience and rally regulations were amended to include language for a closing time for entries and that the closing time shall be no later than 11:59 pm on the third Wednesday prior to the trial for trials held on Friday through Monday.  Previously the regulations governing these sports did not address a closing time for entries, but instead defaulted to the Rules Applying to Dog Shows. Clubs have the ability now to extend the closing hour for their entries at their option following the requirements listed below. Effective May 1, 2017, clubs may apply for events with a later closing hour at their option.

  • Obedience Regulations - Chapter 1, Section 3. Premium Lists, Entries, Closing of Entries.  (Insert as paragraph 5)
  • Rally Regulations – Chapter 1. Section 3. Premium Lists, Closing of Entries and Catalogs. (Insert as paragraph 2)
  • Every premium list shall specify the date and time at which entries for a trial shall close. The premium list shall also specify the name and address of the Superintendent or Trial Secretary who is to receive the entries.
  • For all trials the specified closing date and time must be no later than as outlined in the following schedule:
    •    For a trial which opens on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, entries accepted not later than 11:59PM on the third Wednesday prior to the trial.
    •    For a trial which opens on Tuesday, entries accepted not later than 11:59PM on the third Thursday prior to the trial.
    •    For a trial which opens on Wednesday, entries accepted not later than 11:59PM the third Friday prior to the trial.
    •    For a trial which opens on Thursday, entries accepted not later than 11:59PM on the third Wednesday prior to the trial.
  •  Clubs in a cluster of no more than five consecutive days have the option of closing no later than 11:59PM on the third Wednesday prior to the last trial in the  cluster.
  •  Whenever the closing day noted above falls on a postal holiday, entries received in any form up to 24 hours from the published closing date and time may be  accepted.
  • All other paragraphs in these sections remain unchanged.
May 12, 2017
Transfer of Entries in Obedience
The regulations will allow a transfer of an entry from one class to another at the request of the exhibitor after the closing date for entries, provided the club allows transfers and only if the class and judge are available and the class has not reached its limit. The request for the transfer is still required to be presented to the superintendent or trial secretary at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each trial. Transfers in both Obedience and Rally were amended and is effective July 1, 2017.
Obedience Regulations – Chapter 1, Section 16a. Transfers.
  • The club will clearly state in its premium list whether transfers will or will not be allowed. If no statement is provided in the premium list the default is to allow transfers.
  • A transfer (i.e., from an obedience class to an obedience class; or a rally class to a rally class) may be requested if, according to the owner’s records the handler and dog are eligible provided the club offers transfers.
  • Transfers from an “A” to “B” class at the same level are allowed provided the host club allows transfers. (When a club does not allow transfers, refer to Section 16b. Entry of Ineligible Dog.)
  • The request for a transfer must be in writing and presented to the superintendent or trial secretary at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each trial.
  • Clubs may choose to accept transfers prior to the day of the trial and this should be clearly stated in the premium list.
  • Transfers may be approved provided the class and judge are available, and the class has not reached its limit.