The American Kennel Club says that the purpose of Obedience Trials is:
“…demonstrate the usefulness of the purebred dog as a human companion and showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to properly behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs.”
Your Griffon will tell you that the purpose of Obedience Trials is:
“…to show Mom & Dad what a GOOD, SMART dog I am!”
Griffons are extremely intelligent and love to please. Competitive obedience trials are the perfect venue to exercise and test their capability to learn desired behavior and demonstrate self control and the ability to take direction. The AKC offers competitive obedience trial classes for all levels of accomplishment, including:
Dogs in this beginning level are judged on a pointed scale (200 being a perfect total score) on their ability to do the following exercises:
Heel on lead – gaiting on the left side of the handler, with his shoulder parallel to the handler’s leg. Remaining in same heel position regardless of changes in speed of handler’s gait. Including a figure eight pattern.
Stand for examination
Heel off lead
Recall – come straight to handler and sit squarely facing handler, then return to heel position on command.
Long Sit – handler leaves the dog in a sitting position and walks to the other side of the ring, facing the dog. Dog must stay sitting for one minute, and allow handler to return to heel position, without the dog breaking position.
Long Down – handler leaves dog in a down position, and walks to the other side of the ring, facing the dog. Dog must stay in the down position for three minutes, then allow handler to return to heel position, without dog leaving the down position.
Dogs receiving three qualifying scores in the Novice class at licensed trials are awarded the suffix title of Companion Dog, or “CD.”
Dogs competing at this intermediate level are judged on a pointed scale on their ability to do the following exercises:
Heel off lead, including a figure 8
Drop on recall – handler puts the dog in a sit-stay, then leaves the dog. Walks to the other end of the ring and faces the dog. Handler gives command to come, but halfway through the dog’s return, handler commands dog to down. After holding the down, handler calls dog to come to front, sitting facing the handler.
Retrieve on flat – dog must retrieve a dumbbell and return to sit facing the handler on command.
Retrieve over high jump – After placing dog in heel position, handler throws a dumbbell over the top of the high jump obstacle. Dog is directed to jump over the obstacle, retrieve the dumbbell, and return by jumping back over the high jump to sit facing the handler; holding the dumbbell in its mouth until directed to release it.
Broad jump – From a sit-stay position, dog is directed to jump over a group of low hurdles. Dog returns to sit squarely in front of handler.
Long sit – Similar to the long sit in novice, except that the handler walks out of the sight of the dog, and the dog must hold the sit position for 3 minutes instead of 1.
Long down – Similar to the novice long down, except that again, the handler is out of the sight of the dog, and the dog must hold the long down position for 5 minutes instead of 3 in novice.
Dogs receiving three qualifying scores in the Open level at licensed trials are awarded the suffix title of Companion Dog Excellent, or “CDX.”
Dogs competing at this advanced level are judged on a pointed scale on their ability to do the following exercises:
Signal exercises – Instead of giving verbal commands, handler uses only physical gestures or “signals” to command the dog to heel, stay, come, sit, stand, and drop. The signal exercises include the successful completion of the finish signal after the recall signal, before the exercise is considered to be finished…
Scent discrimination – dog must be able to identify, pick up, and retrieve a metal article out of a selection of identical articles, one of which has been handled by its owner and contains the owner’s scent. The exercise is repeated with a selection of leather articles; tested in the same manner.
Directed retrieve – A ring steward places three gloves in different locations along the back of the ring. One right corner, one center, one left corner. From the opposite side of the ring, the dog is placed in a sitting position next to the handler, facing the gloves. Handler signals the dog to retrieve the specific glove that the judge has indicated by a number of 1, 2, or 3. After the dog is signaled to retrieve a specific glove, he must collect it, and return, facing the front of the handler. The dog holds the glove until instructed to release it.
Moving stand stay then exam – while heeling off lead with handler, dog is suddenly signaled to stop and stand, as the handler continues on for 12 feet, then turns to stand, facing the dog. Dog must allow judge to physically touch the dog in a mock “examination.” After doing so, handler signals the dog to return to the heel position, which he must do promptly.
Directed jump – Dog and handler line up at one end of the ring, lined up between jumps. Dog is given command to “go back” and must run straight until handler commands the dog to sit. Dog must wait, watching handler, until given a signal for either the high jump or bar jump. This is repeated until both jumps are accomplished, and dog returns to heel position.
Dogs receiving three qualifying scores in the Utility level at licensed trials are awarded the suffix title of Utility Dog, or “UD.”
Seriously talented dogs can go on to compete for the titles of Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) and Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)! To learn more about competing in AKC Obedience Trials, visit AKC’s Getting Started in Obedience page. There are also many national championship and corporate sponsored special obedience events each year! To find an obedience class near you, contact your local obedience club. If you’d like to just go watch the fun and check out how it’s done, check the events calendar to find an upcoming local event. Begin by exploring obedience publications, including the popular “Front & Finish,” to start you on your way!