Why Train Your Dog?
Dogs, by nature, are pack animals with a well-defined social order. As you and your family become your dog's pack, your new dog will look to you – the leader of the pack – for guidance. Leadership can be established in a firm but friendly manner. Keep in mind that it is unrealistic to expect the dog to abide by the rules of the household without the leader teaching appropriate behavior!
Much like people, every dog is different. Some are hyperactive. Some are laid-back. Some are serious. Others are silly. Some are shy, and yet others have too much confidence. Regardless of these differences, training is necessary for all dogs and beneficial to your entire family.
- Help correct nuisance behaviors such as jumping on people, digging, barking, and chewing, while providing mental and physical activities for your dog.
- Deepen the bond between you and your dog, and to increase the enjoyment, companionship and satisfaction of your relationship with your dog.
- Ensure your dog's safety and happiness.
- Nurture good canine companionship for the benefit of your family, neighborhood and community.
- Allow you to enjoy the fun and excitement of competing in AKC events. You and your dog can earn certificates and titles while you continue to strengthen your communication and teamwork.
Types of Training Classes
- Puppy Class – A developmental training course for the 3-to-5-month-old puppy. A puppy class emphasizes socialization with people and other puppies. Instructors usually offer information on growth, nutrition, grooming, housebreaking and problem-solving and teach basic household commands.
- Basic Class – A basic training course for dogs 5-to-6 months and older, aimed at training you to train your dog. The basic class emphasizes the essential training commands needed to make a dog a good companion: heel on a loose leash, sit, stand, down, stay in position, and come when called. Instructors also usually provide information on nutrition, grooming and problem-solving. This basic training is important in keeping your dog safe.
- Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Class – May be a separate class or a part of a beginner class at AKC clubs and other organizations. CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community. Your dog will need to know the commands and exercises taught in a basic training class to qualify for a passing score on the CGC test. Dogs that pass the CGC test receive a certificate from the AKC and are recorded in the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Archive.
- Training Classes for Companion Events – A variety of classes that prepare students and their dogs for competition in obedience, agility, tracking and other AKC events. You will be instructed in the levels of competition and titles available, how to teach your dog the required exercises, and the regulations that apply when you are competing.
AKC titles can only be earned at an AKC-licensed or member club trial. The Novice (CD) title must be completed before an exhibitor can enter the Open class. The Open title (CDX) must be earned before an exhibitor can enter the Utility class.
- Companion Dog (CD) – The letters CD may be added after a dog's registered name when it has been certified by 2 different judges as receiving qualifying scores in Novice classes at three licensed or member obedience trials.
- Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) – The letters CDX may be added after a dog's registered name after it has been certified by 2 different judges as receiving qualifying scores in Open classes at three licensed or member obedience trials.
- Utility Dog (UD) – The letters UD may be added after a dog's registered name after it has been certified by 2 different judges as receiving qualifying scores in Utility classes at three licensed or member obedience trials.
- Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) – Dogs with UD titles must earn qualifying scores in both Open B and Utility B at 10 trials in order to add the UDX title after their registered names.
- Obedience Master (OM) – The letters OM may be added after a dog's name when it has earned a total of 200 OM points awarded to dogs earning a 190 or better from the Open B and Utility B classes based on the schedule of points established by the AKC Board of Directors. The OM will be followed by a numeric designation indicating the number of times a dog has met the requirements of the OM title up to 10.
- Grand Master (OGM) – The letters OGM may be added after a dog's name when it has earned the 10th level of the Obedience Master title. Only one OGM title will be awarded.
- Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) – Dogs with UD titles must win 100 points and a first-place in Utility B and Open B, plus a third first-place win in either class, under three different judges.
- National Obedience Champion (NOC) – The AKC awards this prestigious title annually to the dog that wins the AKC National Obedience Invitational. The letters NOC are placed before the dog's AKC-registered name and become part of the dog's permanent title.
- Beginner Novice (BN) – The letters BN may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Beginner Novice classes at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
- Graduate Novice (GN) – The letters GN may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Graduate Novice classes at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
- Graduate Open (GO) – The letters GO may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Graduate Open classes at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
- Versatility (VER) – The letters VER may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Versatility classes at 3 licensed or member obedience trials
- Pre–Novice (PCD) – The letters PCD may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Pre-Novice at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
- Pre–Open (PCDX) – The letters PCDX may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Pre-Open at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
- Pre–Utility (PUTD) – The letters PCD may be added after a dog's name when it has been certified by 2 different judges to have received qualifying scores in Pre-Utility at 3 licensed or member obedience trials.
Information about Obedience Trials
The AKC offers a wide variety of resources to assist anyone interested in obedience, whether you are new to the sport or want to know how to hold an obedience trial. Contact AKC Customer Service at 919-233-9767 or Orderdesk@akc.org to inquire about the following resources:
- "Getting Started in Companion Events" – Informative brochure which outlines the basics of getting started in AKC Companion Events.
- AKC Show Trial Manual – Manual designed to assist clubs in understanding the requirements, the paperwork, the personnel, and the many details that must be handled correctly to hold a successful obedience trial.
Getting Started in Rally
Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience.
The team of dog and handler moves continuously at a brisk, but normal, pace with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during the numbered exercises and between the exercise signs; however, perfect "heel position" is not required. Any faults in traditional obedience that would be evaluated and scored as a one-point deduction or more should be scored the same in Rally, unless otherwise mentioned in the Rally Regulations. After the judge's "Forward" order, the team is on its own to complete the entire sequence of numbered signs correctly.
Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Unless otherwise specified in these Regulations, handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, clap their hands, pat their legs, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler's arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.
Rally provides a link from the Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) program to obedience or agility competition, both for dogs and handlers. In addition, rally promotes fun and enjoyment for dogs at all levels of competition.
What is Rally?
AKC Rally is the new dog sport that is taking the nation by storm, a successful stepping stone from the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program to the world of obedience or agility. Rally offers both the dogs and handlers an experience that is fun and energizing. The canine team moves at their own pace, very similar to rally-style auto racing. Rally was designed with the traditional pet owner in mind, but it can still be very challenging for those who enjoy higher levels of competition.
A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience. Communication between handler and dog is encouraged and perfect heel position is not required, but there should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler. The main objective of rally 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 will reflect positively on the sport of rally at all times and under all conditions.
Levels of Competition
The three levels of competition in AKC Rally:
- – this is the first level for those just getting started in competition.
- All exercises are performed with the dog on leash.
- There is a requirement of 10-15 stations to complete with no more than five stationary exercises.
- The exercises performed vary from turning 360 degrees to changing paces during the course.
- Exhibitors at this level may clap their hands and pat their legs through the course.
- – this is the second level, which includes more difficult exercises throughout the course.
- All exercises are performed off-leash.
- There is a requirement of 12-17 stations with no more than seven stationary exercises.
- Exercises include a jump as well as calling your dog to the front of you instead of to a heel position.
- – this third and highest level of AKC Rally is the most challenging.
- Exercises are performed off-leash except for the honor exercise.
- There is a requirement of 15-20 stations, with no more than 7 stationary exercises.
- Handlers are only allowed to encourage their dogs verbally. Physical encouragement is not allowed at this level.
- The Excellent-level exercises include backing up three steps, while the dog stays in the heel position and a moving stand, while the handler walks around the dog.
A qualifying performance indicates that the dog has performed the required exercises according to the AKC Rally Regulations. Each performance is timed, but times are only counted if two dogs earn the same score.
All dogs and handlers begin with a perfect 100. A dog and handler team is awarded a qualifying score if it retains at least 70 points after the course has been completed. Once the team has completed the course, their score will be posted ringside.
The dogs must earn three qualifying scores under two different judges in order to receive a rally title. The titles that can be earned are:
Rally Novice: RN
Rally Advanced: RA
Rally Excellent: RE
Rally Advanced Excellent: RAE
The requirement for the RAE title is that the dog must qualify ten times in both the Advanced B class and the Excellent B class at the same trial.
Information about AKC Rally Trials
Contact AKC Customer Service at 919-233-9767 or Orderdesk@akc.org to inquire about rally information and the following resources:
What is Agility?
Running a dog in an agility trial is the ultimate game for you and your dog and is one of the most exciting canine sports for spectators. In an agility trial, a dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility by following cues from the handler through a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects. It’s an activity that strengthens the bond between dog and handler and provides fun and exercise for both, which might explain why it’s so enjoyable to watch and has become the fastest-growing dog sport in the United States!
Types of Classes
There are several types of classes offered at an agility trial: Standard, Jumpers with Weaves, Fifteen And Send Time (FAST) and Preferred. The Standard class has contact obstacles, which have yellow “contact zones” at each end. Contact obstacles include A-frame, dog walk and seesaw. The dog must place a least one paw in the contact zone in order not to receive a fault. This encourages safety in training and in running the course. The Standard class also has a variety of jumps; weave poles, pause table, tunnels and a closed tunnel. The Jumpers with Weaves class does not have contact obstacles or a pause table to slow the team’s forward momentum. This is a very fast course requiring instant decisions by the handler and close attention from the dog. The FAST class is an additional test of strategy, skill, accuracy, speed, timing and distance handling, to demonstrate a dog’s athletic ability and willingness to work with its handler in a fast-paced atmosphere over a variety of agility obstacles. As indicated by the title, the Fifteen and Send Time class uses fifteen (15) point-valued obstacles and/or obstacle combinations. The course will include a ‘Send Bonus’ or distance element that will award a bonus of twenty (20) points if completed successfully.
Levels of Agility Competition
There are three different levels of competition in agility:
NOVICE – for the dog that is just starting in agility. There are 14 to 16 obstacles on this course. The focus of the Novice class is on performing the obstacles with minimal handling technique.
OPEN – for the dog that has completed the Novice level. There are 16 to 18 obstacles on this course. The focus of the open class is on more difficult obstacle course performance with more handling skill required.
EXCELLENT – for the dog that has completed the Open level. There are 18 to 20 obstacles on this course. The focus of the Excellent A & B class is to provide the opportunity for dogs and handlers to demonstrate their superior skills in moving quickly and efficiently with close communication and teamwork through challenging agility courses. The Excellent B level is the class where dog/handler teams can earn the title, Master Agility Champion (MACH), in the Regular Classes.
How Agility is Scored
Agility is a time and fault sport where the qualifying requirements are more challenging as the competition class levels get higher. There are two types of faults: time and penalty. Time faults are given for every second a dog goes over the Standard Course Time as set by the length of the course.
Below are examples of Penalty Faults that a judge may assess a handler and dog:
• Taking an obstacle out of sequence
• Missing a contact zone
• Displacing a bar or panel on a jump
• Jumping off the pause table before the judge is through counting
• Running around or refusing the next obstacle
• Exceeding the amount of time set by the judge for running the course
• Touching either the dog or any obstacle by the handler while running the course
• Outside assistance may be penalized
• Handler failure to control the dog may be penalized
Agility Jump Heights
The classes are divided by jump heights in order to make the competition equal between the different sizes of dogs.
8" Class – dogs up to 11" at the shoulder
12" Class – dogs over 11" and up to 14" at the shoulder
16" Class – dogs over 14" and up to 18" at the shoulder
20" Class – dogs over 18" and up to 22" at the shoulder
24" Class – dogs over 22" at the shoulder
26" Class – dogs may be entered at this height at their owner’s discretion.
A dog may jump in a jump height class higher than his/her shoulder measurement, but never lower.
This class affords an opportunity for a greater variety of dogs, and their handlers, to participate in the sport of agility. Handlers have the option to enter the Preferred classes with modified standards of lower jump heights and more generous course times. They must compete at the required jump height.
A perfect score in any class at any level is 100. A dog must earn 3 qualifying scores under two different judges. The minimum score to qualify is 85 in all classes except in the Excellent B class where the minimum score is 100. The minimum time allowed to run the course and the number of obstacles to complete successfully, increase as the level of difficulty increases.
The AKC offers a wide variety of resources to assist anyone interested in Companion Events, whether you are new to the sport or want to know how to offer a trial. Contact AKC Customer Service at 919-233-9767 or Orderdesk@akc.org to inquire about the following resources:
Regulations for Agility Trials and Agility Judges Guidelines - Two important books for any agility exhibitor to have. These regulations and guidelines for AKC agility trials explain how titles are earned, courses designed and levels of competition.