The Competition Class is for those who would like to compete or are already competing at Obedience. Because the demand is quite high for this class it is by invitation only but there are places available from time to time and help will always be given to anyone who is interested.
Obedience is an absorbing and competitive dog sport which examines how well you and your dog work together as a team through various set exercises. Your dog does not need to be a pedigree dog to take part, cross breeds and rescue dogs with no breed history are eligible to compete and handlers of all ages can enjoy this hobby.
Throughout the summer there are Obedience dog shows held most weekends and it is a brilliant way of spending time with your dog doing something you both can enjoy with likeminded people. The only down side is sometimes you can get very wet!
All dogs are expected to work in a happy and natural manner and you are marked as a team, you can lose marks for mistakes as well as the dog can. The tests are progressive; as the dogs get more experienced the tests get more challenging.
The dog should walk with you, reasonably close to you, his shoulder approximately level with your leg. He should turn when you do and when you stop he should sit again level with and close to your leg. This test is carried out on and off the lead. If the lead is on the dog it must be kept slack at all times. In the lower classes encouragement and help can be given to the dog. In the higher classes the lead is not used at all, more complicated turns are used and slow and fast pace are introduced.
The dog is left in either the sit or down, the dog to be recalled by the handler when facing the dog. The dog must return smartly to the handler and sit in front then when told, return to the heelwork position.
The dog is left in the sit or down. The dog is recalled by the handler while walking away from the dog, the handler continues walking and the dog joins the handler in the heelwork position and they both continue walking.
With the dog sitting at heel while the handler throws the dumb-bell, the dog must remain sitting until told to fetch the dumb-bell. The dog should then go out smartly and pick up and return with the dumb-bell and sit in front of the handler still holding it. Handler then takes the dumbbell from the dog and then sends the dog to heel. In the higher classes other articles are used for the dogs to fetch.
SIT. The handler puts the dog in the sit position, tells it to stay and walks away from the dog. In the lower classes the handlers may face the dogs. In the higher classes its backs to the dogs or walking out of the ring and going out of sight of the dog.
DOWN. The down stay is carried out in the same manner but the length of time the dogs are left is greater from 2 minutes in the lower classes to 10 minutes out of sight in the higher classes.
The dog sits in the heel position. The handler then sends the dog away from them to a marked area, when the dog reaches the correct spot the handler tells the dog to lie down, the dog waits in that position until the handler, who is now walking, calls the dog and the dog returns to the heelwork position and they both continue walking.
While standing some distance away from the dog the handler gives the dog a different position, sit, down or stand. On each command the dog must take up the position without moving forward and then wait for the next command.
The dog has to find a cloth with the handlers scent on it from amongst a number of clean blank cloths which have no fresh scent on them. As you move through the classes decoy cloths with other scents are introduced and the dog still must fi nd the correct scent. In the highest class, the dog is given the Judges scent to fi nd with other decoy scent cloths in the ring as well.
Most people start out by going to Companion Shows where Obedience classes are held. These are quite informal shows and you can enter on the day. Open and Championship shows are much larger and have to be entered in advance. As with all sports there are rules and regulations that have to be followed. These are for the safety and wellbeing of the dog as well as to ensure that the sport remains fair for everyone. The Kennel Club sets the rules and regulations and monitors all shows which must have a licence and insurance cover.
Training for Obedience Shows is an ongoing thing, as the dog improves, the exercises become more difficult and like everything else you have to work quite hard to get good at it. The dog needs to enjoy it and really want to be doing it with you so it has to be fun, rewarding and interesting.