Competitive Obedience is exactly what you would imagine - obedient and well trained dogs having their abilities tested. Obedience can be likened to dressage, or maybe gymnastics. The overall objective is to execute each exercise within a class with precision and accuracy, dog and handler working as a complete team. Thus both handlers and dogs can be penalised for errors and faults.
General training classes like the Good Citizen Dog Scheme will teach you the basics. Alternatively you can find a club that offers Obedience training via our Find a Club service.
Getting started in Obedience
There are six 'classes' - levels of competitive obedience - available for entry at Obedience shows. New handlers will start in the basic Pre-Beginners and Beginners Classes; as you become more experienced you can qualify for the higher classes right up to Class C, the highest (and most difficult). Each class contains a set of exercises which the judge will ask you and your dog to perform. More details about the different classes can be found on the Obedience Levels and Classes page.
The exercises range from heelwork (on and off the lead), to a recall, control exercises such as a one minute sit and a two minute down stay. As you progress through the classes the exercises obviously become more difficult. When you reach Class C your dog will have to perform additional exercises such as a scent discrimination exercise and also a send away and distant control exercise.
Each exercise is given a maximum number of points and judges will judge each team (handler and Dog) against their personal view of the perfect execution of the test (within the guidance set within the regulations). Dogs are expected to work in a happy and natural manner, with the handler responding smartly and quickly to the caller steward's commands.
Details of what is required for each exercise can be found on the Obedience Tests and Exercises page.
Competing at an Obedience Show
The formal requirements for competing in a Kennel Club licensed Obedience show are quite simple:
- Your dog must be registered with the Kennel Club, either on the Breed Register or on the Activity Register.
- Competitors taking part in any Kennel Club licensed event must familiarise themselves with the Kennel Club Rules and Regulations beforehand. The Obedience Regulations can be found in the Obedience Show 'G' Regulations
- Dogs can only enter Obedience Shows when they are 6 months of age or over
Once you have fulfilled these requirements and you feel that you and your dog are ready to compete, you can enter your first Obedience show. Your first step may be to enter a Companion Dog Show, a club match or a Limited Obedience show. Alternatively you may choose to enter a Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Special Pre-beginner Obedience Stakes Class, a Pre-beginner or Beginner Class at a Kennel Club licensed Obedience Show. There are in fact numerous Obedience shows held annually by Kennel Club registered clubs. Details of these shows are published in the Kennel Club's monthly publication the Kennel Club Online Journal or can be found in the Events Diary.
Our Guide to Entering your First Obedience Show provides further information about what to expect and how to prepare for your first show.