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Obedience: About


  • Obedience trials demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring and emphasize the usefulness of the dog as a companion to humankind. The objective of obedience trials is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions.
  • In 2018, there were 118,316 entries in AKC obedience trials.
  • Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge’s mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises.
  • Accuracy and precision is vital, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are essential for a winning performance.
  • Helen Whitehouse Walker devised the first obedience “test” in Mt. Kisco, New York in 1933 to show the intelligence of her poodles.
  • The first AKC licensed obedience trial was held in 1936. In this first year there were 18 trials with approximately 200 entries.
  • Each level of obedience competition – Novice, Open, and Utility – requires mastering a specific skill set, which increase in difficulty, before advancing to the next level.
  • The Novice class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs.
  • In the Novice class, dogs earn a Companion Dog (CD) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
  • In 2018, 2714 dogs of various breeds earned the CD title.
  • The Open class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added.
  • In the Open class, dogs earn a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
  • In 2018, 854 dogs of various breeds earned the CDX title.
  • The Utility class, which includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class.
  • In the Utility class, dogs earn a Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving three qualifying scores.
  • In 2018, 438 dogs of various breeds earned the UD title.
  • Upon completion of the UD title, dogs may earn the Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) by qualifying in both the Open B and Utility B classes on the same day at 10 different trials.
  • In 2018, 192 dogs earned UDX titles. An additional designation was added to this prestigious title to acknowledge the number of times a dog had completed the requirements for the UDX title.  In October of 2004, numeric designations were added to the UDX.  The highest UDX title to date is a UDX71!
  • The Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title is often referred to as the “PhD” for dogs, and is the highest obedience honor a dog can receive.
  • To obtain an OTCH title, a dog and handler team must receive 100 points by placing first, second, third or fourth in the Open B or Utility B classes and a first place in Utility B, and first place in Open B and an additional first place from either class.
  • In 2018, 69 OTCH titles were earned.
  • The AKC National Obedience Champion title (NOC) is awarded to one dog each year, and is permitted to have the prestigious NOC letters precede its name in AKC records.
  • To compete in the AKC National Obedience Championship dogs must be the top OTCH and OTCH-pointed dogs in their breed.
  • The 2018 AKC National Obedience Champion was NOC OTCH High Times Hit The Ground Run’N UDX2 OM5 SH (Golden Retriever-Streak), owned by Bridget Carlsen of Yorkville, IL