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Obedience: Get Started

How an Obedience Trial Works

A club wishing to hold an obedience trial must first meet all AKC requirements before applying for permission from the AKC. The next step is for the club to appoint an obedience trial committee that will have sole jurisdiction over the dogs, handlers and owners entered in the trial.

To enter an obedience trial, the owner of the dog must submit an official AKC entry form, which can be found on the AKC web site, to the trial secretary or superintendent of the trial. Be sure to ask the trial secretary about the premium list, the official announcement of a club’s event. The premium list contains all relevant information regarding the trial, including date, location, classes offered, and judges – as well as the entry form.
After the entries have closed, a program showing the schedule for the judging of each class will be mailed to the owner of each entered dog.

An area, designated as a “ring,” will be provided. The club holding the trial is responsible for providing equipment that meets the requirements of the AKC Obedience Regulations.

Role of the Judge

The judge must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the class. Judges are not permitted to inject personal variations into the exercises, but must see that each handler and dog execute the various exercises exactly as described in the AKC Obedience Regulations. The judge must carry a mental picture of the theoretically perfect performance in each exercise and score each dog and handler against this standard.

A qualifying score in the judge’s book is his or her certification that the dog has satisfactorily performed all the required exercises. The judge will not disclose the scores until the conclusion of the judging, but will immediately inform a handler after the group exercises (or immediately following the last exercise in Utility) if his or her dog received a qualifying score.

At the end of the judging and after all scores have been recorded, the judge will call qualifying dogs back into the ring and will announce the scores of each of the four placements.

Qualifying Performance

A qualifying score indicates that the dog has performed all the required exercises according to The AKC Obedience Regulationsand justifies the awarding of the obedience title associated with the particular class.

Qualifying Score

A dog receives a qualifying score when it earns more than 50 percent of the points for each exercise, with a total of at least 170 points. A perfect score in any class is 200.