Obedience originated from the Working Trials, which were run by German Shepherd Dog clubs in the 1920s with the first ever Obedience classes being held at the old Crystal Palace in London in January1924.
In October 1928 the Kennel Club drafted rules & regulations for Obedience classes.
The Alsatian League held the first UK Obedience only show in in October 1949 at Finchley, North London.
Getting Started in Obedience Competitions
A dog must be 6 months old before they can be entered for obedience competitions.
There are a number of types of shows where an owner can compete with their dogs. The first is at local Companion Dog Shows; the second is at KC approved shows. These consist of; Limit, Open or Championship Shows which are run under KC Rules.
Beginners often chose to compete in local Companion Dog Shows, which are not dissimilar to KC Beginners classes, and then progress to KC approved Shows as they gain experience and confidence.
Under KC Rules there are eight Classes each with a rising degree of difficulty to suit the handler and dogs ability, experience and success - these are Introductory, Pre-Beginner, Beginner, Novice, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and Championship.
Whatever competition an owner chooses both they and their dog will be more successful for being trained.
KC Obedience Exercises.
Basically, whether from introductory to the championship level, the exercises required are similar but as progression is made through the levels these become more challenging with additional elements being added at the higher levels.
The exercises competitors will be expected to complete are heelwork (on and off the lead), recall, retrieve and stays, both sit and down. In the higher levels there will be scent exercises, discrimination exercise and sendaways.
Heelwork is the corner stone of all competitive obedience classes from introductory to championship.
Heelwork principally consists of a handler and dog carrying out a pattern of heelwork manoeuvres under instructions from a steward. This will be to a preset pattern designed by the judge the complexity of which is dependant on the level of class being judged.
The patterns for Beginner and Novice classes are quite simple and straightforward basically consisting of straight lines with right, left and right about turns. When a handler gets to Class B level they will find more advanced movements being introduced such as changes of pace, slow and fast and by the time they get to the very top level Class C, a competitor will be required to perform movements such as circles, weaves and multiple turning manoeuvres.
From Pre-Beginner up to the Novice classes, competitors will be expected to carry out heelwork both on and off the lead. From 'A' level upwards competitors will be expected to carry out the exercises off the lead.
Sit and Down Stays
All classes have sit stay and down stay exercises. These consist of a dog being put into the sit or down position and then remaining in that position while its owner moves away and until they return, holding their position until the command, ‘Exercise Over’, is given.
In the lower classes the handler remains in sight about 10 - 20 paces away, however in the more advanced classes ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ the handler will go out of the dogs sight for a period of time.
This time for the sit stay ranges from 1 minute in the pre-beginner, to 2 minutes for the higher classes, and from I minute to the full 10 minutes allowed for in Class C.
The sit and stay exercises are carried out consecutively at a predetermined time in a separate ring, with all dogs and handlers in the class in one group.
This exercise is found at all levels except Introductory and Pre-Beginner.
The exercise starts with the dog sitting at the handler's left leg, then under instructions from the steward the handler will throw the article a short distance. The dog is then sent to retrieve and bring back the article to the handler without mouthing or playing with it on the way back. Upon the dog’s return it is expected to sit directly in front of the handler facing them in an upright sitting position and not leaning to one side or the other , as close as possible with the item in its mouth, until the steward instructs the handler to take the item and finish the dog to heel.
In the lower classes the article to be retrieved can be whatever their handler and the dog are comfortable with, provided it can be easily picked up by the dog and it cannot harm the dog's mouth. In Novice and Class A the article is a dumbbell and for Classes B and C the article will be provided by the Judge.
There are two types of recall - the Novice recall and the 'A' recall
In Pre-Beginners, Beginners and Novice the handler is required to command their dog to wait in either a sit or a down position. The handler then walks away from the dog until told to stop by the steward, the handler then turns to face the dog. The steward will then tell the handler to call their dog. The dog will then return to the handler and sit in front of the handler until commanded by the handler to finish when the dog will return to heel sitting next to the handler's left leg.
The 'A' recall like the Novice recall starts with the dog in a sit or down position however once the handler leaves their dog they continues to walk as directed by the steward. At some point while the handler is walking away from the dog the steward will instruct the handler to call the dog to heel. The dog should smartly come to heel and the dog and handler will continue walking until the steward commands them to halt.
This exercise is only found in Classes A, B and C.
The scent discrimination exercise is where a dog is required to find and bring back the correct scented cloth hidden amongst a number of other cloths (between 6 -10) laid out in a pattern determined by the judge.
This exercise is made progressively more difficult in that in Class A the dog only has to find the cloth with their handlers scent on it from 5 other blank (non-scented) ones, while in Class B there are more cloths to choose from (10) and one of those will carry a decoy scent placed on it by a steward.
In Class C the dog’s task is made even harder in that the cloth that the dog will be seeking will be the one with the judge’s scent upon it which will be placed in the pattern along with a decoy cloth containing the steward’s scent.
This exercise is only found Class C.
Upon the Judges command to leave the dog, the handler will leave their dog usually in a sit position and walk a distance of between 10 - 20 paces and turns to face their dog.
The handler will then by the use of verbal commands get the dog to carry out a combination of 6 positions of sit, stand and down in the order prescribed by the judge.
The positions are; Sit to down; down to stand; stand to sit; sit to stand; stand to down; and down to sit.
The dog is required to stay in the same place while going through the 6 positions. If the dog moves more than its own body length in any direction then it will be penalised.
This is just a brief summary of the exercises that will be required in Obedience competitions at all levels - for more detailed information see the Kennel Club Web Site
We are grateful to the Kennel Club for supplying this information.
Obedience Training - Thursday Evenings
Objective of Obedience Training
The objective of obedience training is essentially teaching a dog to react to certain commands in order to have a rapport between the owner and the dog so that it becomes socialised and can share in its owner’s everyday life whether it be in the home, the car, or a walk in the park.
While it is possible for someone to train their dog at home it is far better to join a club where the dog can be trained in a climate of mutual cooperation.
Training at the Club
The Club offers obedience training, and can cater for puppies and dogs whose owners may want training from basic commands right up to Crufts-level competitive obedience.
Level 1 and 2 - 7.30 p.m.
Level 3 and 4 - 8.15 p.m.
Competition Group - 9.00 p.m.
Initially, new members train on a beginners' course (Level 1) that lasts for seven/eight weeks. At the end of this course there is an assessment and members will be moved into the next class best suited to their achievements.
For Levels 2 to 4, the Club runs Progress Exercises at the end of the eight week or Trainer Assessment over the training period to give handlers the opportunity to move into a higher class as their dog improves.
Most of our members are happy working in the domestic classes (for pet dogs) as their aim is to have a well-trained pet that will respond to their commands.
Members, who aspire to compete at obedience shows, having attained a high standard of work, can train in the class that is reserved for those who compete regularly.
All of our trainers are experienced people who have successful trained and competed with dogs over a number of years and are willing to pass this knowledge on to others.
Rugby Dog Training Club
UjjjjjThe club has a number of members participating at shows in Competitive Obedience from Introductory to Championship Level.
Competition Group - For competing members is Thursday evening at 9.00 p.m.
We hold our Championship Obedience Show in Rugby at the beginning of May. This enable all members of the club to come along and help out.