Obedience 101

Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well at home, in public spaces, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC Obedience trials allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles.

Basic Obedience training is the foundation for all dog sports. The AKC offers three levels of Obedience classes, Novice, Open and Utility. Each class requires mastering a specific skill set, which increase in difficulty, before advancing to the next level. The Novice class demonstrates good companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple examination and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. The Open class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added. The Utility class is the most challenging with scent discrimination, directed jumping and silent hand signal exercises.

The first AKC Obedience trial was held in 1936. The Westminster Kennel Club staged obedience exhibitions and test classes in 1939 and 1940, and had the legendary trainer Blanche Saunders direct demonstrations in 1947 and 1949. The 1959 demonstration was the last appearance of obedience dogs at Westminster until the 2016 inaugural Masters Obedience Championship competition.

Obedience benefits you and your dog

Although competing in obedience trials enables you to strengthen the relationship with your dog it is also the foundation for having a happy, well-adjusted family member. Obedience training can help correct nuisance behaviors such as jumping on people, excessive barking or chewing, while providing mental and physical stimulation. Training a dog to be a welcome family and community member benefits everyone and can ensure your dog’s safety and happiness.

The Masters Obedience Championship At Westminster

Obedience dogs can achieve many titles. This competition consists of those dogs that have “mastered” the highest level of the sport. The top-ranked 150 dogs based on Obedience Trial Champion points earned will receive invitations to compete. Entries will then be selected on a first-received basis. There will be 30 dogs entered in this competition.

The first round of competition consists of AKC Open and Utility exercises including a signal exercise; drop on call, directed jumping, retrieve over high jump, scent discrimination and group sit/stay exercise. In the finals round of competition, all teams perform 6-minute routine (designed by the handler) to showcase the broad spectrum of obedience. The Westminster Kennel Club donates $10,000 to honor the winner of the Masters Obedience Championship. The donation will be given to the AKC training club where the winner is a member. If they are not a member of an AKC training club then the donation will go to the AKC Humane Fund.

All breeds are involved in Obedience. The most popular breeds at this time are Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs. All-American breeds (mixed breeds) are also eligible to compete. Dog obedience is practiced as a sporting activity that demonstrates a handler and dog’s ability to work as a team. The breed of dog may pose certain challenges in training and handling, but a competitor is not restricted as to type of dog. Therefore, dog obedience is a sport for all dogs.

See the full list of 2018 Obedience Winners and the Masters Obedience Championship Records.