Obedience is premier companion competition. Obedience trials present an opportunity for the handler and dog to demonstrate their skill as working as a team.
Obedience is held in conjunction with AKC conformation events. Due to the constraints of the obedience events, the obedience rings are kept separate from the conformation rings.
During each event, the dog-handler is actually competing in two events. First is competition to complete another "leg" in their title hunt.
The dog earns a "leg" when it completes all exercises with score of at least 50% per exercises and at least 170 points of a possible 200. Four legs complete that class.
The second competition for the high in trial. This is given to the dog with the best overall score for that show.
Although it is done, most obedience competitors do not compete in conformation at the same event.
Obedience is divided up into dffierent classes:
Open Class: More complicated tasks for the dog to perform under the command of the handler
Utility Class: Continues to extend the complexity of the dog-handler interaction. The command as now only hand signals. More difficult tasks include scent discrimination, object retrieval and extended jumps.
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)
Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)
Utility Dog (UD)
Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)
Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH)
National Obedience Champion (NOC)
There is a lot of training involved in competing in obedience. The obedience community has an extensive set of training opportunities. Generally a novice is well served in attending obedience classes which provide instructions and advice in obedience. In addition, one must spend extensive amounts of time working with your dog. Most training should be done with handler that will be taking the dog into the ring.
Generally, it is easier to start training with the dog is a puppy. It is of course possible to train an older dog in obedience. Most people do not mix conformation training and obedience training. So if one is doing conformation with the dog, one might delay the obedience training until the dog's championship is acquired.