The purpose of obedience
trials is to demonstrate the usefulness of the purebred dog as
a companion of man, not merely the dogís ability to follow
specified routines in the obedience ring. The basic objective
is to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the
home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs in a
manner that reflects credit on the sport of obedience.
Training in competitive obedience will be beneficial
for many other canine activities such as agility, field, and
conformation. It's a great way to get to know your dog and
learn something about yourself as well! At its finest, it can
be compared to equestrian dressage with a team performing as
one, moving smoothly together. All exhibitors in a class are
required to perform the same exercises in substantially the
same way so that the relative quality of the various
performances may be compared and scored.
There are 3
levels of classes: Novice (Companion Dog), Open (Companion Dog
Excellent), Utility. A dog must pass each level 3 times under
2 different judges before moving up to the next level.
level, Novice, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog
(CD) title. The title actually describes what is expected of
your dog: demonstrating the skills required of a good canine
companion. The dog will have to heel both on and off leash at
different speeds, come when called, stay (still and quietly!)
with a group of other dogs when told, and stand for a simple
physical exam. The CKC now offers a Novice C class for dogs
that have earned at least a CD. This class is useful for
handlers who would like to give their dogs more ring
experience at a simpler level. It may also be good for the
team like enjoys showing together but are not able to compete
at the Open level.
The second level, Open, results in
your dog earning a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title. He
must do many of the same exercises as in Novice, but off-leash
and for longer periods. Additionally, there is a down in the
middle of a recall, retrieving on level ground and over a jump
and a broad jump. The group stays are peformed with the
handler out of sight for longer periods of time.
The final level
results in a Utility Dog (UD) title. These are intended to
judge the dog's ability to perform more utilitarian exercises.
All exercises are performed off-leash. Under CKC rules, the
dog must find a dropped glove, perform scent discrimination
tasks, respond to hand signals, stop and stand in the middle
of heeling and go across the ring, stop and jump as directed
by the handler. Under AKC rules, the dropped glove exercise is
replaced with a directed retrieve of a glove. In Canada, the
dog earns a Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh) title when it
earns its UD.
Rally obedience is a
relatively new sport that has been met with great enthusiasm
in the US. It has often been referred to as a combination of
traditional obedience and agility. Rally was originated by
Charles "Bud" Kramer as sport that would demonstrate teamwork
as well as obedience and training . The name comes from rally
style car racing where a team uses directions to follow a
In rally obedience, the team follows a course
and executes exercises from a predefined set of exercises. Bud
Kramer borrowed a concept from working dog teams (e.g. drug
detection, police service, search and rescue) where "the
handler's responsibility is to provide help and encouragement
to the dog to keep the dog focused on the job at hand."
Precision of movement is not a requirement for this type of
work. Teamwork is more apparent in this type of work since the
handler is allowed to interact with the dog as needed.
The AKC recognized Rally as a titling event in
January, 2005. In Canada, Rally is currently offered under the
auspices of the Canadian Association of Rally Obedience and
the CKC. Under all organizations, there are 3 levels - Novice,
Advanced and Excellent. Similar to traditional obedience,
teams must earn 3 legs under 2 different judges to title.
Handlers are provided with course "maps" and may walk
the course and ask questions of the judge as a group. When
it's time to perform, the team enters the ring and sets
themselves up to begin. The judge tells them "forward" and
stays quiet as the team performs the course. Movement is not
judged at the same degree of precision as in traditional
obedience and there are no half point heeling deductions. The
handler may repeat an exercise that was performed incorrectly
before the next station is reached. An attempted exercise that
is incompletely or incorrectly performed loses points but the
performance is still considered to be qualifying if a minimum
number of points are earned.
Rally is a good way of introducing new
dogs and/or handlers to the obedience ring. It can be a great
way to get a new dog used to being in the ring. The handler
can ensure that dog has a good experience by providing
positive feedback. In a sense, it can be thought of as a
training experience in the ring.
Agility is a
fast-paced and exciting sport that was modelled after horse
show jumping. A dog and handler team work a course with a
specified number of jumps, tunnels, contact equipment and
weave poles in a specified period of time. The dogs perform
the obstacles with instruction from the handler. The team may
incur faults for errors such as knocking bars, missing contact
areas or obstacles and taking too long.
Agility is a
good way to challenge a dog both mentally and physically. Dogs
learn to respond to the handler's voice and body signals. Dogs
can learn the obstacles by name and learn directional signals
such as left, right, and go forward. The sport requires quick
thinking and response by the handler to a potentially fast
moving dog. Handlers are allowed to give an unlimited number
of verbal or visual commands to their dogs but may not touch
the dog or the equipment.
Basic obedience skills are
strongly recommended since the dog should be under control and
must be able to sit, down and come when called. Agility is
physically demanding and not every dog is built for this
sport. The Agility Association of Canada (AAC), Canadian (CKC)
and American Kennel Clubs (AKC) have classes that allow dogs
to compete for titles by jumping a lower heights. Some
organizations, including the AAC allow non-purebred dogs to
compete - a perfect opportunity for that rescue lab!
organizations offer different types of classes. Currently, the
CKC and AKC offer Standard and Jumpers with Weave classes at
both standard and preferred (lower) jump heights. The AAC
offers Standard and Games classes with standard, special and
veterans height classes. USDAA and NADAC events are rarely
offered in this area and are not described here.
Therapy in this instance means therapy that the dog provides to humans, not for the dog! A therapy dog is different from a service dog that provides assistance to a disable person.
There are two basic types of therapy work. One is animal assisted activity, sometimes referred to as "pet visitation". Friendly, well-behaved, clean and healthy dogs meet, greet and entertain patients in hospitals, retirement homes and other similar institutions.
"Pet assisted therapy" involves the animal and handler working with a health care professional to assist patients with temporary or permanent disabilities to function better. Pet visitation is the simplest activity to become involved yet still offers a great deal of satisfaction to everyone involved.
events are the competition form of canine search and rescue.
These Tracking events provide training for dogs and their
handlers to meet some human needs for tracking and finding
lost humans or other animals, as well as, demonstrating the
extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess.
The CKC's Tracking Tests allow dogs to demonstrate their
natural ability to recognize and follow human scent.
This vigorous outdoor activity is great for canine
athletes. Unlike Agility and Obedience events that require a
dog to qualify three times, a dog only needs to complete one
track successfully to earn each title.
Tracking Dog (TD)
A dog earns
a TD by following a track 440 to 500 yards long with three to
five changes of direction. The track is laid by a human
tracklayer and is "aged" 30 minutes to two hours before the
dog begins scenting. The goal is to use the scented track to
locate an article left at the end of the trail by the
tracklayer. The owner follows the dog on a long leash and can
encourage the dog during the tracking test.
Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)
The TDX is earned by following an "older" track (three to five hours) that is also longer (800 to 1,000 yard) and has five to seven directional changes with the additional challenge of human cross tracks.
Owners who do tracking with their dogs find joy in seeing the dogs at work using their innate scenting skills
The purpose of
CKC draft tests is to demonstrate a dog's usefulness as a
draft animal, reliable freighting companion and working. These
tests were originally developed to demonstrate the traditional
carting and weight-pulling skills of breeds such as
Newfoundlands and Bernese Mountain Dogs.CKC draft dog tests
are now open to all dogs of sufficient height and weight that
are physically capable of performing the exercises. There are
tests for individual dogs and for a brace (2 dogs working as a
At the beginning level (Draft Dog), the test
consists of 3 parts - Control, Carting and Field Work
The Control Exercises consist of some basic
obedience exercises (i.e. off-leash heeling, stand and down
stays) to demonstrate the dog's ability to be a safe and
obedient companion and worker.
The Carting Exercises
are performed with the dog in harness. The handler hitches the
dogs to a cart or wagon, and the team then perform a series of
carting manoeuvers including turns, a figure 8 and backing up
to demonstrate his/her usefulness in hauling a wheeled vehicle
safely and quietly over smooth terrain.
The purpose of
the Field Work Exercises is to demonstrate the dog's ability
to pull a freight load over a moderate distance in cooperation
with its handler. These exercises take place on natural
terrain, with sloping land, boulders, high grass and/or trees
forming natural obstacles. dog is also asked to pull a freight
load over rougher terrain, which includes natural obstacles.
The dog may be hitched to a cart or wagon or the
harness may be attached directly to the load weighing
approximately 18 kgs. The team move the load through simple
manoeuvers over a variety of terrain including gentle hills
over a distance of approximately 200 m. At the Excellent
level, the Carting Exercises are performed with a 27 kg load.
The handler must also direct the dog from behind the cart or
The Field Work Exercise consists of a freight
haul over rough terrain with a load of 18 to 27 kg. The course
is 400 to 500 m and includes small hills and an obstacle such
as a gate that requires help from the handler.
Backpacking Exercises are also included at
the Excellent level, demonstrating the ability of the dog to
function as a pack animal. The dog must carry a 2 day supply
of dog food and other items up to 1/6 of the dog's weight up
to a maximum of 11 kg. Once the dog is packed, the team travel
an 800 m course over rough terrain, that could include fallen
trees, fordable streams and steep hills. The team will also
enounter a distraction in the form of another dog, on leash
The purpose of the national
Canine Good Neighbour Program is to ensure that one of our
most favoured companions, the dog, is accepted as a valued
member of our communities right across the country. Canine
Good Neighbours can be counted on to present good manners at
home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs. The
training program embraces both purebred and mixed-breed dogs
and is fun, rewarding, and useful. It encourages owners to
have a better and richer relationship with their dogs. The
program also enhances community awareness of responsible dog
ownership and the numerous benefits associated with dog
The test is non-competitive and allows dog
and handler to demonstrate confidence and control in 12 steps.
It assesses the handler and dogís relationship, together with
the handlerís ability to control the dog. Dogs are evaluated
on their ability to perform basic exercises as well as their
ability to demonstrate good manners in everyday situations.
The tests include:
Accepting a friendly stranger
talking to the handler Politely accepting petting by the
friendly stranger Allowing someone to examine the dog's
feet and ears and briefly brush the dog Walking politely
on a loose leash Walking politely on a loose leash through
a crowd Sit/down on command and stay in place on a 6 m
line Come when called on a 6 m line Calm down after a
10 second play session Polite behaviour in the presence of
another dog Confidence around visual and auditory
distractions Being left alone with someone for 3 minutes
with owner out of sight Waiting for the handler to allow
them through a gate
The handler may speak to and
encourage the dog throughout each exercise except the out of