Random Little Tidbits

By John Cox
AKC Obedience Judge

 

                                       



John's first Saint Bernard came to live with him in 1969. This five-week-old puppy went on to become the breed’s most-titled (at the time) with American and Canadian Champion titles and American and Canadian Utility Dog (UD) obedience titles. Since Nicklus, John has lived with eight other Saints which have earned additional championships and UDTs & Working Dog titles. John is also known for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi that earned a Tracking Dog (TD) title. 

In 1998 Johnstarted over with another Saint Bernard puppy imported from Belgium.  This new best friend surpassed John's other dog's record as most-titled Saint Bernard, with 39 titles to his name including nine Master titles in Agility, a UDXTD in Obedience and Tracking, plus a VCD2 and breed championship.

John started judging AKC obedience in 1978 and thoroughly enjoys this aspect of the sport.  2018 will be John's 40th year judging. He recently was acquired by the AKC to help support the companion events department.  John is well-known for his Dog Talk articles published below and in the Front & Finish magazine.  Dog Talk covers a large number of aspects involved in the sport including handling and judging tips.


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  • Sunday, November 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Upon arriving at the trial:

    1) Make sure you have all the needed required equipment for the class(es) entered.

    2) Check-in early if at all possible. If you have a conflict this should be discussed with the Judge/Steward before the class is scheduled to start. This courtesy will help the Judge in determining Group sizes, if applicable, and absentees. Keep attuned to the “white board, if available” for dogs moved out of catalog order as this information will allow your warm-up timing to be more on target.

    3) Before your turn, watch the heeling pattern and where each exercise will take place. In being prepared one can keep their dog better focused while moving from one exercise to the next.

    4) Know the correct height of the dog’s withers if there are jumps in the class entered, and double-check to make sure the Stewards have the jumps set correctly before entering the ring.

    5) If you are entered in Beginner Novice, Novice A or Pre-Novice, plan to be ringside for the 15-minute walkthrough prior to the start of the class. Have accommodations for the dog during the walkthrough.

    When it is time to enter the ring keep in mind the following:

    1) A team is being judged from the time they step into the ring until the time they leave the ring.

    2) Make sure the leash is attached going into the ring and leaving the ring. Chapter 2, Section 16

    3) Keep the dog under control at all times while in the ring. Chapter 2, Sections 22 & 23

    4) No visible means of identification (badges, ribbons, club jackets, etc.). This includes collars, leash, dumbbells, gloves or even the utility article bag. Chapter 1, Section 10

     5) Leashes must be made of fabric or leather and long enough to provide adequate slack during the Heel on Leash exercise. A six foot leash needed in BN. Nothing may be “hanging” from the collar. Chapter 2, Sections 16 & 17

    6) Handling Between Exercises, Chapter 2, Section 23:

    a. Beginner Novice, Preferred-Novice or Novice A & B, guided gently by the collar between exercises. NO other physical guidance is permitted and, if used, must receive minor or substantial penalties, depending on the circumstances.

    b. Graduate Novice, Graduate Open, Preferred-Open, Open, Preferred-Utility, Utility or Versatility classes, there will be a substantial penalty for any dog that is physically guided at any time or is not readily controllable. Minor penalties will be imposed for a dog that does not respond promptly to its handler’s commands or signals before or between exercises in these classes. Items a. & b. also pertain to the Group exercises, such as physical positioning the dog for the Sit or Down.

    7) Before starting each exercise the judge is required to ask, “Are you ready?” Keep in mind this is JUST a question, NOT the start of the exercise. The judging of an exercise will not begin until the judge has given the first order. Chapter 2, Section 4

    8) Praise and petting are allowed between and after exercises, but points will be deducted from the total score for a dog that is not under reasonable control while being praised. Chapter 2, Section 22

    9) After the last class dog and before the awards: If you have been informed you Q’d, warm up your dog as you never know if there may be a runoff! Be prepared and ready if called back into the ring!

    10) Classes at or after 12:00 noon will be listed “to follow” and must be judged in the order and ring listed. No “to follow” class may start before 12:00 noon. Chapter 1, Section 26  A minor deduction is 1/2 point up to 21/2 points. A substantial deduction is 3 or more points.

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  • Thursday, October 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    A team (dog and handler) are under judgment from the time they enter the ring until they leave the ring. Once the team passes through the ring entrance the scoring begins and does not stop until the team passes back through the ring entrance on the way out. Scoring is not to be viewed as just points off as scoring in the Judge's Book can also reflect perfection indicated by a “0” for no points off.

    So what actions by the dog or handler would lead to withdrawals from “Your 200 Account?” Well, let’s review a few sections of the Regulations and find some answers to this point-saving quandary.

    Dog and Handler saving points:

    How can praising your dog cost points?

    Section 22. Praise. Praise and petting are allowed between and after exercises, but points will be deducted from the total score for a dog that is not under reasonable control while being praised. There will be a substantial penalty for any dog that is picked up or carried at any time in the obedience ring while under judgment. Note: A dog is under judgment until it leaves the ring.” A tip for the handler is to know how one’s dog reacts to praise beforehand and praise accordingly in the ring so the dog enjoys the praise but also maintains “reasonable control.” 

    A handler may pick up their dog and carry it back into the ring for awards. I have not attempted this with my Saint Bernard yet, but may it try soon. Saints do love their cuddle time!

    Review what class(es) you are showing in for the day.

    1) Remember the class you are showing in as the Regulations can vary from class to class. For example:Chapter 2, Section 23. Handling Between Exercises. In the Beginner Novice, Preferred-Novice, and Novice classes, thedog may be guided gently by the collar between exercises. No other physical guidance is permitted and, if used,must receive minor or substantial penalties, depending on the circumstances.‘In the Graduate Novice, Graduate Open, Preferred-Open, Open, Preferred-Utility, Utility or Versatility classes,there will be a substantial penalty for any dog that is physically guided at any time or not readily controllable.Minor penalties will be imposed for a dog that does not respond promptly to its handler’s commands or signalsbefore or between exercises in these classes.” The above also pertains to the Group exercises, such as physicalpositioning the dog for the Sit or Down.

    2) A person takes the chance of ineligibility by entering both Novice B & Open and the possibility of earning an Open score on the same day. As soon as they earn a qualifying score in Open they are immediately ineligible for the Novice class, regardless of the closing date.

    Chapter 2, Section 24. Orders and Minimum Penalties. “The lists of faults are not intended to be complete, but minimum penalties are specified for most of the more common and serious faults…” For example, sniffing in certain circumstances could lend itself to a scorable fault, but the words sniff or sniffing are not in the Regulations.

    Dog saving points:

    Chapter 2, Section 25. Misbehavior.A long section in the Regulations, but it contains a lot of “good stuff” in regards to saving points. “Dogs must be under control at all times when entering and exiting the ring. Any display of fear or nervousness by the dog or any uncontrolled behavior such as snapping, barking or running away from its handler must be penalized according to the seriousness of the misbehavior whether it occurs during or between an exercise or before or

    after judging. The judge may excuse the dog from further competition in the class.” ‘If the behavior occurs during an exercise, the penalty must first be applied to the score for that exercise. Should the penalty be greater than the value of the exercise, the additional points will be deducted from the total score under Miscellaneous Penalties. If such behavior occurs before or after the judging or between exercises, the entire penalty will be deducted from the total score. Any dog that relieves itself at any time while in the ring for judging must receive a nonqualifying

    (NQ) score and may be excused from the ring.” The judge must disqualify any dog that attacks or attempts to attack any person in the ring. Any dog that attacks another dog or that appears dangerous to other dogs must be excused and not allowed back in the ring for the group exercises.”

    Let’s address the barking misbehavior as one example of a scorable fault that sometimes is misunderstood in regards to scoring. In obedience, a bark is a bark and a scorable fault. This includes “happy barks.” In Rally, a single bark is looked at differently; don’t confuse the two venues. In obedience, before, during and after an exercise barking is definitely a scorable fault as it is classified in the above section (#25) as a form of misbehavior. During the time frame of the individual exercises there is more latitude for scoring barking than in the Group exercises. One bark or several barks before, between or after an exercise (or even during an exercise) will add up in deducted points. At some point, if thebarking continues, the misbehavior may/will become a disturbing element and the Regulations do state, “The judge may excuse the dog from further competition in the class.” These are judgment calls in regards to scoring or in the extreme case, excusal.

    Now let’s look at Chapter 2, Section 13. Group Exercises, Scoring. The Regulations also state in the Novice Group exercise, “A non-qualifying score (NQ) is required for the following: The dog moving a substantial distance away from the place where it was left any time during the exercise, going over to any other dog, not remaining in the required position until the handler has returned to heel position, and repeatedly barking or whining. A substantial deduction will be made for a dog that moves even a short distance from where it was left, that barks or whines only once or twice…” Note: During the individual exercises the penalty scoring is up the Judge. In the Groups it is stated a substantial (3 or morepoints off) will be made. Therefore, barking or whining during the groups carries stiffer penalties than during theindividual exercises, in most cases. The Novice group exercise is a foundation exercise for Open & Graduate Novice sothe same applies to those classes, too.

    My philosophy in judging is if a dog barks it is subject to a penalty, which could be deemed a minor penalty (1/2 to 21/2 points) during the individual exercises, depending on the circumstances. Ignoring and not scoring such misbehavior would in essence be penalizing all the other dogs who entered the ring and did no barking. The barking dog and nonbarking dog were then scored the same (zero points off) if that were the case! Keep in mind: scoring is the way of separating the quality of performances, even if only a 1/2 of a point penalty was applied. This holds true for ALL scoring (if worth 1/2 point), as it is the judge’s obligation to judge by the Regulations; as a result the judging is fair and consistent to all the exhibitors. There are those breeds that may have more of a tendency to bark than others but the Regulations also state in Chapter 2, Section 6, “The same methods and standards will be used for judging and scoring the A and B classes and in judging and scoring the work of dogs of different breeds, including dogs listed with AKC Canine Partners.” There is a time and place for the dog to work quietly, and the obedience ring is one of those places. In my experience it is rare that barking in

    Lastly, Chapter 2, Section 7 should be reviewed.Interference and Double Handling. A judge who is aware of any assistance, interference, or attempts to control a dog from outside the ring must act promptly to stop such double handling or interference and must penalize the dog substantially. If the judge feels the circumstances warrant, the dog will receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score for the exercise during which the aid was received.” The Group exercises are one place and time this could happen, as one example.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Tuesday, September 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    REGULAR CLASSES:

    Novice A:

    Walkthrough: “At the listed start time for the class, a walkthrough of up to 10 minutes will be allowed for handlers without their dogs and judging of the class will follow. The judge must be available in the ring during this period to brief the handlers and answer any questions they might have.” New language for a shorter walkthrough (was 15 minutes) and after the walkthrough, which sometimes can be short, the class will proceed to be judged. No longer will you see a start time for the walkthrough and another start time for the judging of the class.

    Novice A & B:

    After the individual exercises: “Handlers of dogs that have qualified during the individual exercises will have the option ofreturning for the group exercise. Each handler is required to notify the table steward of their intention to return for the group exercise after the completion of the individual exercises. ”Group Exercises: The leash remains attached to the dog’s collar and will be dropped or placed on the ground between the dog and handler with the armband weighted as necessary before the exercise begins. Judges have the option of deciding if a set of group exercises will be conducted after a specified number of dogs or if the group exercises will be conducted after the last individual team is judged. Once determined the judge must post this information at the ring.

    Open A & B:

    After the individual exercises: The Novice group exercises are the foundation exercises for Open, therefore, “Each handler is required to notify the table steward of their intention to return for the group exercise after the completion of the individual exercises.”

    Group Exercises: “These exercises are performed and scored in the same manner as in the Novice classes, except the leash will be removed and placed behind the dog with the armband weighted as necessary; and the handlers must cross to the opposite side of the ring then leave in a single file and go completely out of the dogs’ sight.” Judges have the option of deciding if a set of group exercises will be conducted after a specified number of dogs or if the group exercises will be conducted after the last individual team is judged. Once determined the judge must post this information at the ring.

    Utility A & B:

    Scent Discrimination: See Random Little Tidbits #4 for expanded details.   To obtain a copy of the detailed revision, step-by-step, request a copy by noting the Titbit #4, dog-talk@comcast.net

    Articles: “The articles will be provided by the handler and will consist of two (2) sets only. The handler will choose which two (2) sets are to be used, metal, leather or wood.”

    Directed Retrieve: The designated glove is now required to be posted. No longer is a non-qualifying score (NQ) “required” for the direction not given simultaneously or immediately following, or lack of directness.

    Moving Stand and Examination: “The exam will consist of the judge gently using both hands in a single smooth motion beginning at the sides of the dog’s neck, proceeding along the body and ending at the dog’s croup. The purpose of the revision is to make the examination consistent from judge to judge. In addition, the definition for croup will be added to the Glossary of Terms.

    Preferred Optional Titling Classes, formerly Pre-Classes:

    Preferred Novice, class renamed (formally Pre-Novice):

    Eligibility: “The Preferred Novice class is an alternative titling class for dogs that have not won the CDX or PCDX title.”

    Walkthrough: “At the listed start time for the class, a walkthrough of up to 10 minutes will be allowed for handlers without their dogs and judging of the class will follow. The judge must be available in the ring during this period to brief the handlers and answer any questions they might have.” New language for a shorter walkthrough (was 15 minutes) and after the walkthrough, which sometimes can be short, the class will proceed to be judged. No longer will you see a start time for the walkthrough and another start time for the judging of the class.

    Preferred Open, class renamed (formally Pre-Open):

    Eligibility: The Preferred Open class is an alternative titling class for dogs that have won the CD or PCD or higher Regular or Preferred title.

    Order of exercises (as in Open B): “Prior to the start of judging, the judge will decide the order of exercises to be performed in that class. This order will not be disclosed to exhibitors until it is posted at the ring, approximately 45 minutes before the start of the class. In future assignments, judges are required to alternate the six orders of exercises so that each will be used approximately the same number of times.”

    Preferred Utility, class renamed (formally Pre-Utility):

    Eligibility: The Preferred Utility class is an alternative titling class for dogs that have won the CDX or PCDX or higher Regular or Preferred title.”

    Order of exercises (as in Utility B): “Prior to the start of judging, the judge will decide the order of exercises to be performed in this class and the glove number. The order and glove number will not be disclosed to exhibitors until it is posted at the ring, approximately 45 minutes before the start of the class. In future assignments, judges are required to alternate the six orders of exercises and the designated glove number so that each will be used approximately the same number of times.”

    Signal exercise: No verbal command during the signal portion.

    Scent Discrimination: 10 articles, not eight. Since this exercise will be performed and scored the same as in the Utility Scent Discrimination in regards to the new procedure, articles, and Judge’s new orders, see the Utility A & B Scent Discrimination above.

    Moving Stand and Examination: “The exam will consist of the judge gently using both hands in a single smooth motion beginning at the sides of the dog’s neck, proceeding along the body and ending at the dog’s croup. The purpose of the revision is to make the examination consistent from judge to judge. In addition, the definition for croup will be added to the Glossary of Terms.

    Directed Retrieve: The designated glove is now required to be posted. No longer is a non-qualifying score (NQ) “required” for the direction not given simultaneously or immediately following, or lack of directness.

    Other Optional Titling Classes:

    Beginner Novice:

    Walkthrough: “At the listed start time for the class, a walkthrough of up to 10 minutes will be allowed for handlers without their dogs and judging of the class will follow. The judge must be available in the ring during this period to brief the handlers and answer any questions they might have.” New language for a shorter walkthrough (was 15 minutes) and after the walkthrough, which sometimes can be short, the class will proceed to be judged. No longer will you see a start time for the walkthrough and another start time for the judging of the class.

    Recall: “The handler’s arms and hands should hang naturally at the sides until the dog has sat in front.” The change was made to make consistent language as required in all exercises where the dog is coming to front. This will help new exhibitors learn correct and consistent handling from the beginning.

    RunOff Procedure: In case of a tie in the Beginner Novice class, the dog and handler will perform the Heel on Leash the same as it is performed in the Beginner Novice Heel on Leash exercise.

    Graduate Novice:

    Heeling: “This exercise will be performed and scored in the same manner as the Novice Heel on Leash and Figure Eight exercise, except that the dog will be off leash.” All heeling is to be done off leash, no longer the Heel on Leash and the Figure Eight off leash.

    Dumbbell Recall over High Jump: Instead of a Recall over the High Jump without a dumbbell, the dog is now to carry the dumbbell over the jump. “The principle feature of this exercise, in addition to those listed under the Dumbbell Recall, is that the dog return with the dumbbell over the jump.”  After the individual exercises: Keep in mind, since the Graduate Novice Group exercise is performed as in the Open Group exercise, and the Open Group exercise refers back to the foundation exercise of Novice; therefore, the following will also apply to the Graduate Novice groups: Each handler is required to notify the table steward of their intention to return for the group exercise after the completion of the individual exercises.”

    Group Exercise: Prior to the start of judging, the judge will decide the Sit/Down position to be performed in this class. The position will not be disclosed to the exhibitors until it is posted at the ring, approximately 45 minutes before the start of the class. In future assignments, judges are required to alternate the Sit/Down position so that each will be used approximately the same number of times.” The Sit is a new added option for the Group. Judges have the option of deciding if a set of group exercises will be conducted after a specified number of dogs or if the group exercises will be conducted after the last individual team is judged. Once determined the judge must post this information at the ring.

    Graduate Open:

    Change the order of the exercises to:
    1. Signal Exercise
    2. Scent Discrimination
    3. Go Out
    4. Directed Jumping
    5. Moving Stand and Exam
    6. Directed Retrieve

    Signal exercise: Changing from “10-20 feet” to “At least 10 feet” allows the handler to go further than 20’ should they choose to do so as they prepare for the Utility class. This is a positive change for the handler in preparing for the Utility Classes.

    Scent Discrimination: Since this exercise will be performed and scored the same as in the Utility Scent Discrimination in regards to the new procedure, articles, and Judge’s new orders, see the Utility A & B Scent Discrimination above.  Otherwise the exercise remains the same as before in regards tothe handler facing the articles and four articles used.

    Articles: “The articles will be provided by the handler and will consist of two (2) sets only. The handler will choose which two (2) sets are to be used, metal, leather or wood.”

    Go Out: “The handler will stand with the dog sitting in the heel position facing the unobstructed end of the ring in the approximate center at any distance from about 20 feet beyond the jumps up to midway between the jumps.”

    Moving Stand and Examination: “The exam will consist of the judge gently using both hands in a single smooth motion beginning at the sides of the dog’s neck, proceeding along the body and ending at the dog’s croup. The purpose of the revision is to make the examination consistent from judge to judge. In addition, the definition for croup will be added to the Glossary of Terms.

    Directed Jumping: “Prior to the start of judging, the judge will decide which jump will be performed and which glove retrieved. This information will not be disclosed to exhibitors until it is posted at the ring, approximately 45 minutes before the start of the class. The judge will designate the same jump and glove for each handler. For each judging assignment, judges are required to alternate the jump and glove used.”

    Non-Regular Classes removed from the Regulations:

    1) Sub-Novice
    2) International Class
    3) Obedience Advanced Teamwork

    Judges Exhibiting:

    “Judges (including provisional) may not handle dogs that are not owned or co-owned by themselves or a family member at obedience and/or rally trials. It is not proper for a judge to co-own a dog solely to permit the judge to handle the dog.

    Tracking, agility, obedience, rally and conformation judges may enter the “A” classes, if otherwise eligible.” Removes the restriction on judges to allow them to handle dogs that are not owned or co-owned by themselves or a family member at events other than obedience or rally trials.­

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Saturday, August 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    From my understanding in reading the changes coming this December 1st, the Scent Discrimination (SD) revision will improve the structure and standardize the performance of the exercise for both the handler and judge, leading to more consistency in judging. Below is how I understand the changes in regards to the timing for scenting the article and giving scent to the dog. 

    Before the revisions the articles were being placed by the steward; keeping in mind this time frame is *between exercises* as no exercise has started. The handler has merely moved to the spot where SD will be to observe the articles being placed. As with any before, between or after exercise actions, Ch. 2, Section 22 applies. The new SD exercise is just the same as the older version in this regard. Petting, talking and praise are okay during the time of watching the group of articles being placed by the steward.  Nothing has changed at this point. 

    PLACING THE ARTICLES: 

    Prior to December 1st the regulation stated, “After the articles have been put out, the handler and dog will turn around and will remain facing away until the judge has given the order, ‘Send your dog.’ This gave the implication that the handler and dog were to remain watching ALL the articles being placed. Not that this was always done, but this is how the Regulations read. A more standardized procedure for judging was felt warranted as handlers wanted the option to turn around early and not watch every last article being placed. After December 1st the regulation states, “Handlers may choose to watch the articles being placed or face away. After the articles have been placed the handler and dog will remain facing away with the dog sitting in heel position until the judge has given the order ‘Send your dog.’ This change gives the handlers the option of watching all articles being placed or they may choose to turn away at any time. 

    SCENTING THE ARTICLE: 

    Prior to December 1st , scenting was actually done between exercises and it was the intent of the change to bring scenting into the exercise for scoring purposes (not between). In this version, any "scenting" scoring before the taking of the article ended up in Miscellaneous Penalties since the exercise had not started--the article had not been taken, which was the first order which started the exercise. After December 1st the exercises will begin with a "new" first order, "Choose an article." The judge will first ask, “Are you ready?” Remember, this is just a question and upon an affirmative answer the judge then gives the first order, "Choose an article." The scoring of the exercise now begins per Ch.2, Sec. 4. The handler leaves the dog sitting in heel position (HP), like in the Novice Stand for Examination, takes an article and returns to HP. A dog moving or not remaining in the sit position will be scored, as will extra handler commands, but not NQed as this is not during the principle feature of the SD exercise. This really should not be an issue in Utility as the dog did pass three (3) Novice Stand for Examination where the handler left the dog and returned to HP, not to mention the Novice and Open Group exercises, too! With the revision the exercise is underway and the scenting is being scored "during" the exercise. This change will allow the handler to talk to their dog during the time frame of scenting the article to the Judge taking the article as many like to communicate with their dog during this down time to stay connected. No touching the dog during the scenting of the article process is allowed, or at any other time. Nothing really different here as there is no touching or petting during any other exercise. Talking is an acceptable form of praise now allowed during this exercise and during this time frame (scenting of the article) to keep the dog connected, which sometimes can take a considerable amount time, others not so much. 

    During the scenting of the article the Judge will ask the question as to how the dog is being sent. If the handler replies "....." both times, the Judge does not need to ask the question again, as was required before the revision. If the handler does not state “both times”, or words to that affect, the Judge will ask the question again. 

    GIVING THE SCENT TO THE DOG: 

    After the scenting of the article the handler will present the article to the judge. The taking of the article is now the second order of the SD exercise instead of the first.  Talking to the dog now stops as the scenting of the *article* is now over.  The Judge will proceed to place the scented article among the other articles. After doing that, the judge’s third order will be, “Send your dog;” at which time the handler then may give their scent to the dog by extending the palm of one hand in front of the dog’s nose or gently touching the dog’s nose, but the arm and hand must be returned to a natural position before they turn and face the articles. Remember, giving the scent to the dog while scenting the article or giving the scent to the dog while the judge is placing the article may result in a scorable handler error(s). As a judge cannot judge the handler’s giving of the scent to the dog while taking the scented article out to the group of articles. The change standardizes the giving of the scent to the dog from team to team. 

    Keep in mind, SD is two separate independent exercises. So after the, "Exercised finished." on the first SD exercise the team is now once again between exercises and praise and petting are allowed as between any other exercises. For the second SD exercise, the team turns away from the group of articles once again and the above is repeated. 

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Wednesday, July 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Saving Withdrawals from Your 200 Account © 

    There have been a few tweaks in leash usage over the years, plus when they are to be attached to the dog’s collar or just slipped through the collar. So let’s review the leashes and where, when and how they are to be used: 

    Regular, Optional and Preferred classes in general: 1) The leash is to be made of fabric or leather and only long enough to provide adequate slack during the Heel on Leash exercise, unless otherwise stated in the Regulations. 2) All dogs must be kept on a leash except when in the obedience ring, warm-up ring or exercise area and must be brought into and taken out of the ring on leash. Dogs must be kept on leash in the ring when brought in to receive awards and when waiting in the ring before and after the group exercises. 3) In regards to heeling with the leash, the leash may be held in either hand or both hands, but the hands must be held in a natural position. Natural is defined as: not artificial; free of affectation; what is customarily expected in the home or public places. The leash must be loose (provide adequate slack) before starting the heeling exercises with the leash attached to the collar. 

    Beginner Novice (BN) A & B: 1) A 6-foot leash is required. 2) The leash is to be dropped between the dog and handler for the Sit Stay exercise. The revision (12/1/2015) in regards to the BN Recall requires the handler to hold their hands at their sides like in a Novice Recall. No longer may the handler hold the leash in both hands in front of them without receiving a substantial penalty. For the Recall, the leash may be placed in a pocket, draped around the handler’s neck or held in one of their hands at their side. 3) Leashes must be attached to the collar in these classes.  

    Novice A & B: 1) Revision (12/1/2015) requires leashes to be left on the dogs during the Sit and Down Group exercises. 2) The armband is to be weighted as necessary and at the side of the dog (between the dog and handler) before the exercise begins. 3) Leashes must be attached to the collar in these classes. 

    Open A,  B and Graduate Novice Individual Exercises and Group Exercises: 1) No revisions were made in regards to the leash or where it or the armband is to be placed during the group exercise(s). It remains behind the dog as before. Leashes must be attached to the dog’s collar in these classes when coming in for the group exercises and leaving. 2) A slip leash may be used in these classes when coming in for the individual exercises.

    Revision (12/1/2015) in regards to the leash attached or slipped through the dog’s collar:

    1) Leashes must be attached to the collar for: 

    a. Classes requiring an on leash exercise. 
    b. Group exercises. 
    c. Awards

    2) In a class where a leash is not required for all the individual exercises, the dog may be brought into and taken out of the ring on a leash that slips through the dog’s collar. 

    The classes with all the individual exercises not requiring a leash:

    1) Graduate Novice
    2) Open A & B
    3) Preferred Open
    4) Graduate Open
    5) Utility A & B
    6) Preferred Utility
    7) Versatility Combinations, V1, V3, V4, V5, V6, V8, V9, V10 and V12. 

    The handler may use a slip leash as all the individual exercises are without a leash. Combinations, V2, V7, and V11 have an individual exercise using the leash so the leash must be attached. The Judge is to post the Versatility combination used for the day 45 minutes before the start of the class. Double check to make sure if there will be an exercise using a leash, if so, the leash must be attached.  

    8) Run-Offs: 

    a. Where the Heel Free is used for a tie-breaking exercise the slip leash may be used. 

    b. Beginner Novice ties would require an attached leash as the tie-breaker is an on leash exercise.  If in question, use a leash which will attach to the dog’s collar; you will be good to go for any situation or class! 

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  • Monday, June 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    In general terms, let's examine an obedience exercise and see how they work as every titling and non-titling class has a series of them. First, we must look at what is referred to as the foundation exercises. A foundation exercise is an exercise where an element of training skill first appears in the Regulations. The advanced exercises in the advanced classes are built on Regular Novice foundation exercises. Picture it as a house building project, Novice is the foundation, Open is the next level and Utility is the penthouse. Before the upper levels are added to the structure, one must first have a foundation. Having knowledge of this structure will help you understand how an exercise is looked upon from a performance angle and from a judging angle. 

    The first of the foundation exercises show up in the Novice obedience class--the basics of obedience skills dating back to 1936 with a few tweaks over the last 8+ decades. The next level of foundation exercises are found at the Open level.  The Utility class is the highest level of skills with the exercises built upon Novice and Open. When reading the scoring sections of Open exercises, the last sentence most likely will have these words, "All applicable penalties listed under the Novice *.........* shall apply." The Utility exercises refer back to foundation exercises in Open and Novice for guidance in performance, judging and scoring: "All applicable penalties listed under the Novice *.........* and Open *.........* shall apply." 

    An excellent example of a foundation exercise is the Novice Recall, a foundation exercise for many of the Open and Utility exercises.  Here is how one may look at exercises being built upon a foundation exercise: 

    1) The Novice Recall description, "The principal features of this exercise are that the dog stay where left until called by the handler, and that the dog responds promptly to the handler’s command or signal to come. Orders are “Leave your dog,’ ‘Call your dog,’ and ‘Finish.” On order from the judge, the handler may give a command and/or signal to the dog to stay in the sit position. The handler will then walk forward to the other end of the ring, turn to face the dog, and stand with the arms and hands hanging naturally. On the judge’s order or signal, the handler will either command or signal the dog to come. The dog must come directly, at a brisk trot or gallop and sit straight, centered in front of the handler. The dog must be close enough to its handler so that the handler could touch its head without excessive bending, stretching or moving either foot. On the judge’s order, the handler will give a command or signal to finish. The dog must go smartly to heel position and sit. The manner in which the dog finishes will be optional provided it is prompt and that the dog sits straight at heel." 

    2) The above description sets the structure of the Recall and spells out what is required by the dog and handler for a basic recall as performed in the Novice class. 

    3) The first sentence states the "principal features" of this exercise. The principal features are the minimum requirements which must be met for a qualifying performance in an exercise. 

    4) In addition, the Finish is first addressed in the Novice Recall so this exercise becomes the foundation exercise for the Finish, too. 

    5) The Novice Recall scoring section (scoring sections follow the description sections) is where one learns what is required in regards to the scoring of the exercise for a qualifying score vs. a non-qualify score. Note: the Finish is not addressed in the NQ verbiage in the scoring section: "A dog must receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score if it is given an additional command and/or signal to stay, if it fails to come on the first command or signal, if it moves from the place it was left before being called or signaled to come, or if it does not sit close enough to its handler so that the handler could touch its head without excessive bending, stretching or moving either foot."  Errors in regards to the Finish are listed under the list of deductions, from substantial deductions to minor deductions. The Finish is not a "principal feature" of the Recall exercise; therefore, not required for a qualifying score. If the dog does not Finish and the principal features of the exercise were successfully performed the lack of a Finish is only points off. 6) Now let's build upon this Novice Recall as a foundation exercise and go to the next levels of our structure. Case in point, the Open Retrieve on Flat (ROF) is at the next level with an added retrieve skill element. This exercise now becomes the foundation exercise for all retrieves as the retrieve skill is first described in the ROF description. One way to look at retrieves in Open or Utility is they are basically two Novice Recalls with the added element of retrieving. The dog is performing a recall to the dumbbell (so-to-speak), retrieving (a new principal feature of this exercise), and then a recall back to the handler.  In the scoring section of the ROF, it mentions applicable penalties from the Novice Recall apply. 

    These would be: 

    a. Handler standing with arms and hands hanging naturally. 

    b. Dog must come directly, at a brisk trot or gallop and sit straight, centered in front of the handler. This would also apply to going to the dumbbell – going directly, brisk trot or gallop. 

    c. The dog must be close enough to its handler so that the handler could touch its head without excessive bending, stretching or moving either foot. 

    d. On the judge’s order, the handler will give a command or signal to finish. The dog must go smartly to heel position and sit. The manner in which the dog finishes will be optional, provided it is prompt and that the dog sits straight at heel. 

    Instead of repeating all the applicable penalties under each exercise the regulations merely refer back to the foundation exercise where they are listed in detail. 7) Next case in point, Scent Discrimination in Utility is the next advanced level of the Retrieve on Flat. The Novice Recall and the Retrieve on Flat are the foundation exercises, with a new added principal feature for Scent Discrimination; "The principal features of these exercises are the selection of the handler’s article from among the other articles by scent alone and the prompt delivery of the correct article to the handler." Once again, the description of the exercise goes into detail for the performance and the scoring section details the scoring; which will reflect back to the foundation exercises with the verbiage, "All applicable penalties listed under the Heel Free, Novice Recall and the Retrieve on Flat will apply." The Heel Free applicable penalties would apply to the team during the “After a Sit” option where the handler and dog turn to face the articles. In reading the Novice Heel Free scoring section it will refer back to the foundation exercise which would be the Novice Heel on Leash and Figure Eight. There one would find the most common penalties listed in detail that would apply to this exercise. 

    The Novice Recall also plays a role as a foundation exercise in many other non-retrieve exercises, such as the Drop on Recall, Broad Jump, Signal exercise, Moving Stand and Examination, Directed Jumping, plus any exercise with a Front and/or Finish. And this just covers the Regular classes. There are different variations of exercises in the Optional and Preferred titling classes which will also refer back to the Regular Novice and Open foundation exercises. 

    In reviewing the entire Novice exercises one can learn the basic foundation exercises for all other classes in obedience.  Open is the next level of the advanced foundation exercises which will come into play for all Open and Utility exercises.  The various scoring sections will always refer back to the applicable foundation exercises. Having this knowledge should provide the information needed in how an exercise (whatever level or optional track) is performed, judged and scored. 

    There are a few more factors in an exercise in regards to a qualifying score: 

    1) Chapter 2, Section 3, Qualifying Performance. "A qualifying score must never be awarded to a dog whose performance has not met the minimum requirements, to a dog that shows fear or resentment, or to a dog that relieves itself at any time while in the ring for judging. Handlers who carry or offer food in the ring or discipline or abuse their dogs in the ring must receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score. In deciding whether a faulty performance of an exercise warrants a qualifying score, the judge will consider whether the awarding of an obedience title would be justified if all dogs in the class performed the exercise in a similar manner. The judge must not give a qualifying score for the exercise if they decide that it would be contrary to the best interests of the sport if all dogs in the class were to perform in the same way." 

    2) Chapter 2, Section 15, Qualifying Score. “A qualifying score means that the dog has earned more than 50 percent of the points for each exercise with a total score of at least 170 points. This score must be earned in a regular or optional titling class at a licensed or member obedience trial. There is no minimum number of dogs necessary in any class to earn a qualifying score toward a title." 

    3) Chapter 2, Section 24, Orders and Minimum Penalties. "The lists of faults are not intended to be complete, but minimum penalties are specified for most of the more common and serious faults. There is no maximum limit on penalties. A dog that makes none of the errors listed may still receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score for other reasons." 

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  • Friday, May 01, 2015 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Here is a first in a series of Random Little Tidbits of information (from me) in regards to the AKC Obedience Regulations.   Knowledge of the Regulations provides you the power to stop "Withdrawals from Your 200 Account!"  (200 is a perfect score in obedience)  Saving withdrawals from your account is also good for the environment, too, as it keeps the lead contained inside the judge's pencil.   :-)

    Today's Random Little Tidbit - When does an exercise and the scoring of that exercise actually begin, per the Regulations?

    A team (dog and handler) are under judgement from the time they enter the ring until they leave the ring.  Once the team passes through the ring entrance the scoring begins and does not stop until the team passes back through the ring entrance on the way out.  Scoring is not to be viewed as just points off as scoring in the Judge's Book can also reflect perfection indicated by a **0** for no points off.

    So how does this all work?  For today's Random Little Tidbits of information, it helps to know when an exercise actually begins and when it ends per the Regulations.  This is spelled out in Chapter 2, Section 4.  Plus keep in mind; each exercise has basically two (2) parts - the principal part and non-principal part.  The principal parts of an exercise are the minimum standards spelled out in the description of the exercise.  Non-principal parts of an exercise are the parts not required to be met for a qualifying score, for example, the Finish.  This will be addressed more as various exercises are covered in future Random Little Tidbits of information.

    For now, when the team enters the ring they are being judged during the time frame, before, between or after an exercise.  Scorable errors (if any) are recorded in the Judge's Book under Miscellaneous penalties. Once an exercise officially starts the scoring then shifts to the exercise. 

    How can a handler know when an exercise is officially underway and they are no longer being observed before, between or after an exercise?  It is quite easy actually.  Before ANY exercise is to begin the judge MUST ask the following question, "Are you ready?"  At this point NO exercise or scoring of that exercise has officially begun.  A question was merely asked by the judge for feedback from the handler if the team was ready to proceed with the exercise.  Scoring of the "exercise" is not taking place during the question and answer period.  Maybe the handler is not quite ready and they will inform the judge.  Once they are ready and the handler gives an affirmative answer to the question the exercise is ready to proceed.  The actual scoring of the exercise still does NOT start UNTIL the judge's **first order**.  In the description of each exercise the judge's first order is spelled out.  Once that first order is given, the scoring of the exercise now begins.  

    At the end of the exercise, the judge is required to order, "Exercise finished."  The scoring of the exercise now stops and the team is being judged once again for actions before, between or after an exercise.  Such scorable actions before, between or after an exercise will be covered later but for a quick look at a few, check out Chapter 2, Sections 22, 23 & 25.

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