Think your dog is an A+ student? Are your friends and family jealous with how well you’ve trained your dog? Then you might want to take things to a new level by participating in Obedience competitions (aka trials).
Developed in the 1930s, Obedience is one of the AKC’s oldest sporting events. From walking on- and off-leash to retrieving and jumping, or demonstrating your dog’s ability to stay, Obedience trials feature dogs that are well-behaved at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. It is essential that the obedience dog demonstrates willingness and enjoyment while it is working with the handler.
Whether or not you want to compete, every dog owner should consider some form of obedience training. It’s the best way to establish good communication skills between you and your dog – and to make sure that your dog is the most well-behaved one in your neighborhood!
Obedience trials are open to all dogs. There are different types of trials offered by clubs, specifically:
- All-Breed Obedience Trials – the most common types of trials – are open to the 195 breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC, as well as mixed-breeds and Foundation Stock Service breeds.
- Specialty Trials are open to specific breeds or varieties within one breed.
To compete, your dog must be:
- At least 6 months of age.
- Physically sound.
- Have an AKC number via one of the following:
- AKC Registration as one of the 195 recognized breeds.
- AKC Canine Partners, which is for mixed-breed dogs and dogs ineligible for AKC registration.
- Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program, which is for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC.
- Foundation Stock Service®(FSS), which is for recorded breeds on the road to full AKC recognition.
- Spayed females and neutered males are eligible to participate, but females in season are not.
- A dog that is blind is not eligible to participate.
- No dog may compete if it is taped or bandaged or has anything attached to it in any way for medical purposes.
- It is important that before competing, you have trained your dog for the required skills and you have familiarized yourself with the AKC Obedience Regulations and ring procedures.
Start training your dog in Obedience early. It is much easier to train a puppy than an adult dog because a puppy is more open to new ideas and has not yet developed bad habits.
Start by finding an AKC Club near you that offers training classes. Ask if you can observe a class before committing to make sure it’s the right one for you. Learn more about different types of classes here. To get the most benefit, you must plan on practicing at home as well. But don’t worry: Your at-home sessions don’t have to be very time-consuming and practice sessions should be kept short.
Once you’ve taken some classes and your dog has mastered the necessary skills, you might decide to compete. There are three main levels of progression in competition: Novice, Open and Utility; with other steps in between to help build on the required skills. Find an event near you and then submit an official AKC entry form to the trial secretary or superintendent in charge of accepting the entries for the trial.
- Find An Event +
Below is a list of top resources:
- Rules and Regulations
- The History of Obedience
- Obedience Field Representatives
- Participants with Disabilities
- Downloadable Forms
- Club Search and Directory
- Versatile Companion Dogs (VCD titles)
- Event Search
- Points and Awards
- Titles and Abbreviations
- Judges’ Directory
- Judges’ Resources