The goal of obedience training is to demonstrate the usefulness of dogs to mankind. A well-trained dog is a pleasure to live with and a good citizen in society. Obedience training is the foundation for most dog-related activities.
Poodle breeder Helen Whitehouse Walker organized the first Obedience Test in the United States in October, 1933. The next year, Miss Blanche Saunders joined Mrs. Walker on a road trip across the United States demonstrating obedience exercises with their Poodles. This trip laid the foundation for the sport of obedience in the United States. Through their efforts, the first American Kennel Club (AKC) Obedience Tests were held in 1936.
Obedience training teaches a dog to respond reliably to verbal and/or signal commands. A dog owner’s goal may be to have a well-behaved pet which would require the dog to learn very basic obedience skills such as walking on a loose lead, coming when called, and staying in a sit or down position when given the command.
Often this training is so rewarding for the owner and the dog, the owner becomes more interested in formal obedience and competing at obedience trials. Formal obedience activities include working for obedience titles, competition for high scores, and placements in sanctioned obedience trials.
There are various exercises in each level of formal obedience. Each title is more difficult than the preceding title. Heeling is the basis for all levels. In Novice (the CD level), the dog heels on and off leash, does a stand for e xamination, a recall, and a one minute sit stay and a three minute down stay with the handler across the ring. In the higher levels, all work is done off lead and the dogs must heel, retrieve, jump hurdles and demonstrate scent discrimination. See AKC, Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC) obedience regulations for exact details of each exercise at the various levels. Regulations are substantially the same in the AKC, UKC and CKC organizations, so much so that dogs and handlers compete with ease in both countries. The St. Hubert’s Dog Training Organization and the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) also offer titles, as do kennel clubs in other countries.
Obedience training with patience, motivation and love is great fun for both the dog and owner. Training develops a deep bond of trust and respect between the dog and handler, and a very special relationship between the two. A trained dog is happy because he understands the expectations of his owner and how to meet them. The dog learns commands such as “come” which can be life-saving, develops self-confidence, and becomes a more enjoyable and responsive companion.
Obedience is one of the several areas from which points can be accumulated in order to achieve the VIP Versatility Certificate or Versatility Certificate Excellent award.
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