Obedience is as competitive as you make it. It can be practiced as something to keep dog and handler busy during the winter months or as serious as traveling to many trials per year to accumulate points towards national obedience dog rankings.
Many registries have obedience events which are similar in their content and challenge at each level, however we will focus only on Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) events on this page.
CKC Obedience has several levels, from Pre-Novice to Utility.
The majority of obedience titles are awarded by gaining three qualifying scores at each level before progressing to the next. Once the team has reached the Excellent, Master and Grand Master Obedience Champion levels, points must be accumulated in both the Open and Utility rings.
Novice (Companion Dog – CD) is the first level of obedience that is judged with points awarded for performance. The dog works both on-leash and off-leash for heeling, does a figure-8 around two people, allows the judge to touch them, does a recall from across the ring and finally demonstrates they can stay in a sit and a down across the ring from their owners.
The next level is Open (Companion Dog Excellent – CDX). In addition to off-leash heeling, they retrieve a dumbbell, drop on command on the recall and perform the sit and down while the owner is out of the room, or out of sight. Recent changes to the Open class include a second stream which includes a positional change exercise and stays with the handler in the ring.
The last level is Utility (Utility Dog – UD). The dog performs more complex tasks such as retrieving a dropped glove, selecting scented articles, crossing the ring to sit and face the handler to take jumps as directed and performing a long, complicated heeling pattern taking only signals as commands.
Other non-required transitional levels are also available. They include Pre-Novice which is entered before completing the Novice class, and Novice Intermediate, which is a step between Novice and Open.
Obedience Trial Championship Levels
Once a dog has attained the three obedience trial titles of CD, CDX and UD, he will be recognized as an Obedience Trial Champion and is entitled to proudly place the prefix of OTCH before his name.
Although not required, a team can continue to compete in obedience trials at the Open and Utility levels to accumulate points towards further Championship designations. Those levels are: Obedience Trial Champion Excellent, Master Obedience Trial Champion and Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion.