Written by Marilyn Miller
Recently a friend asked me what I hoped to get out of taking my dog to obedience classes. My answer was that I hoped to achieve the Companion Dog and Canine Good Citizenship titles and hopefully go further. Cynthia asked me if having the Companion Dog title would allow my dog to fly in the cabin of an airplane with me ? At first I thought this was an ignorant question, but after thinking about it I realized that most people (even dog owners) have no idea what the CD obedience title entails. I told Cynthia she was probably thinking of different types of Service Dogs which are also companions to people in need for different reasons and disabilities. When I tell friends in my exercise classes that Blaze and I are training for competition they immediately mention Westminster. I try to explain that is the Breed classes of showing and that no obedience exercises are involved. I get a blank look in return. Trying to explain the different exercises to a person who has never been to a show is almost impossible. I thought I would look up what showing in Novice is all about and what it entails to earn the title. Not to mention the number of hours the handler and dog put into learning these exercises. Lots of patience is involved. Since it has been 16 years since I trained a dog in Novice, I decided to refresh my memory on the standards a dog must meet to earn the Companion Dog title. I also ordered a new AKC Rulebook since mine is dated 2012.
The following information came from "The Dog Owner's Guide" the online magazine for all pet and show dog owners.
The Companion Dog title is the first title awarded in a progression of titles by the American Kennel Club. When a dog earns this title, the CD letters are placed after the dog's registered name.
To earn this title, the dog must score 170 out of a possible 200 points. Half the points must be awarded for each exercise and must be won under three different judges at three different shows. Each qualifying score is called a "leg".
Six exercises, worth a total of 200 points make up the Novice class. The judge deducts points from the total score of 200. These points are deducted based on errors made by either the handler or the dog. The team gets a score of zero if the dog leaves the handler or fouls the ring.
The Heel on Leash and Figure 8 is the first exercise and worth 40 points. The dog must walk on a loose leash with the dog staying close to the handler's left hip. The dog must stay in position as the team goes in a normal, slow and fast pace according to the judge's directions. Left, right, and about turns are also included in the heeling pattern. Lagging would be penalized as well as crooked sits.
The Stand For Exam (worth 30 points) is the second exercise. The handler stands six feet away from the dog while the judge touches the dog from the head down the back. The handler then returns to the dog in the heel position. If the dog sits, moves away from the judge, snaps or growls the team will receive a score of zero.
Heel Free (worth 40 points) is the third exercise. This exercise is performed off leash and there is no figure 8.
The Recall (worth 30 points) is exercise #4. The dog must sit and stay while the handler moves approximately 30 feet across the ring. When the handler calls the dog he should run to the handler and sit in front. The dog must return to heel position (with either a left or right finish). To qualify on this exercise the dog must stay, come on the first call, and must sit close enough in front for the handler to touch her head.
Exercise five and six are the Group Exercises also known as the long sit and down. Blaze and I call them the "Ups and Downs". The long sit is for one minute and the long down is for three minutes.
Both exercises are done off leash while the handler stands several feet away facing the dog. The dog will fail the exercise if he moves out of place (to find the owner or visit another dog). Barking is penalized also.
The AKC will send a free copy of their obedience regulations handbook to anyone interested. Write to: AKC 5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC. 27606-3390.
The companion dogs my friend, Cynthia was thinking of includes; Service Dogs who help people limited by a disability such as blindness, MS, limited ability or autism.
Emotional Support Dogs: These dogs provide support for people with Bi-Polar problems, depression and anxiety attacks.
Therapy Dogs are dogs who provide emotional support and love to people in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, etc.
Any breed is is allowed to be a member of the above teams and all are allowed to fly with their handler on airplanes.
Those of us involved in obedience should realize that we are talking a "different language" to the average dog person. We should not get impatient, but try to explain what we do with our dogs. Even encourage them to attend an obedience show so they can see first hand. That is how I got involved, when my Husband Glenn and I attended a show in Boston and were in awe of a woman sending her German Shepherd over the jump for his dumbbell. "How did she ever train the dog to do that ???"
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