Obedience Training

Obedience Training

For some general information of what is each level expected of you and your dog to obtain an obedience title (<-- Click here) or if you need the offical requirements see Dogs NSW Trialling Standards.

How many times have you said of your dog "This mutt will not do a thing that I tell him. I tell him to sit and he stands, I tell him to come and he goes, but if I tell him go fetch the paper, he does just that, he fetches the paper."

It's a problem. Not all dogs are geniuses. Some canine Einstein's seem to pick up instructions and commands easily but there are dogs which are born to be led, dogs which are born to lead and dogs which become air-borne on a leash. 

Obedience training is one of the basics of pet care. Dogs which have been given even the most elementary of obedience lessons make much better pets for several good reasons.

You can even compete in several type of trial events where your dog (and You of course) can earn titles when they achieve a set number of clear rounds (similar to equestrian show jumping). 

Who's Top Dog?

Dogs are, by nature a pack animal or an animal that prefers to live in a social group and for a responsibly owned dog the dog's human family is the social group or pack. The process of obedience training gently reinforces in the dog the fact the dog's owner is "Top Dog" and the dog is a lesser member of the family 'pack'.

In addition, obedience training is a gentle means of giving a pup or dog the guidance it needs to prevent the development of unacceptable behavior.

In a pack of wild dogs, it is quite natural for a puppy to be disciplined by the pack leader. The puppy learns to respect the leader, and by observing and copying its actions, the puppy learns to become an integrated member of the dog pack.

In a human family situation, if a pup is allowed to grow up with no such guidance, it can develop unacceptable behavioral patterns, as it has never been told the difference between right and wrong by its owners.

Such pups grow into unruly and unmanageable animals and are usually very unpopular. Their owners usually blame the dog for its bad behavior when the owners themselves are at fault for not giving the pup the guidance it needed. The easiest way to give a dog such guidance is to obedience train the dog.

Obedience training is an excellent way of gently putting a dog in its place. It is a constructive, progressive process which is good fun for both dog and owner.

Another real advantage of obedience training is that the dog is taught to behave in the presence of other dogs and other humans that the dog has never met before. This practice is one of the best means of socializing a dog to its environment. It does wonders to improve the self-confidence of nervous dogs and the demeanor of aggressive dogs.

Obedience Training Using the "Bad Dog-Good Dog" Technique

This is one technique or method that can be used. People throughout the world have developed many different forms, methods and approaches to dog training, that is to say, not all styles or one method is superior to the other, it's a factor of what you're happy with and works for both you and your dog, with this in mind the following is a description of a training method. (Webmaster)

The key to making a dog do something that you desire is to make the dog enjoy doing it. Thus, the key to quick obedience training is to 'ham it up' and use gushing, liberal praise whenever the dog does anything correct and short, sharp discipline if the dog does something incorrect during the training session.

Any discipline used should be followed by praise as soon as the dog stops the incorrect action and performs the desired command response instead. In addition, correction for inappropriate actions must come immediately the action is performed, not several seconds later.

The temperament of your dog will dictate the type of guidance and correction needed. Boisterous dogs need a firm approach while timid dogs respond better to encouragement.

However, it is important to distinguish between confusion and disobedience and react to the first with reassurance and encouragement and to the second with firm discipline.

While doing this you should develop totally different tones in your voice for praise and for chastisement.

To make all this easier for your dog, try to develop a series of verbal commands which are used with a series of hand signals. Always be consistent by using the same verbal commands and associated hand signals together for the same action that you require the dog to perform. For instance do not ask a dog to lay down by saying "DOWN" one moment and "LAY" the next.

If you use exact repetition and a consistent, non-varying approach to each situation, the dog will begin to understand the actions that evoke a pleasant response and those that evoke an unpleasant response. To avoid confusion, the dog must get the same response to any specific reoccurring situation.

Equipment Necessary

Once again there are copious quantities of style, methods and actions with respect to dog collars. It's your choice however once again it's a factor of what you're comfortable with using.

Any collar should be fitted and used correctly. (Webmaster)

The only equipment that is necessary for correct dog training is a leather or cloth leash not less than 1.2 metres long, a check chain collar or suitable collar that you're happy with and a large enough area to train in. 

Correct installation of a CHECK CHAIN (If you use one!!) is imperative. With the dog on your left side, the chain of the collar should travel in a counter-clockwise direction around the dog's neck. When installed in such a manner the collar will hang loosely unless the leash is tugged when the collar will tighten briefly to pull the dog into position and will then release. The correct use of a check chain does no harm to the dog and if you're unsure ASK your INSTRUCTOR or other club representatives! 

It is important that your dog is always worked on a loose leash so that the leash can be used for correction when it is needed. This promotes a comfortable situation when the dog is following your leash but an uncomfortable situation if you and your dog are drifting apart. In the initial learning phase of training, work with your dog for at least 10 minutes each day, or twice a day if possible. Constantly revise and repeat procedures many times over to reinforce in your dog the actions you require.

There are several ways of having your dog obedience trained. You can do it yourself at home by using a good book, of which there are several on the market. Alternatively, you can attend the obedience classes provided by many local obedience dog clubs or you can enlist the assistance of a professional trainer to train you and your dog on an individual basis. The R.S.P.C.A also runs a Dog Obedience Course regularly throughout the year.

Basic obedience training is the key to having a well-behaved pooch. Once achieved, the dog is more controllable, more dependable and happier in itself as it has a better idea what is expected of it. The effort is small but the benefits last a life-time. 


DogsNSW Trialling Standards

Below is a brief description of what could be expected of you and your dog at each level of obedience trialling. These change from time to time so, if you need more information about each exercise ask your instructor or enquire at our Club house. For all current rules and levels you should refer to Australian Nationsl Kennel Council Ltd -  Rules for the conduct of Obedience Trials ...

Community Companion Dog (C.C.D.)

This is the basic level of competition and is not a compulsory section.

In this class the exercises are:

  1. The dog and handler work together as a team to perform a heel on lead exercise, including sits, stands and downs as the judge calls them.
  2. Next is stand for examination where the dog stands steadily on lead whilst the judge approaches and examines the dog’s back and head.
  3. Finally the dog is left sitting whilst the handler walks away 12 metres then turns and calls the dog, which should come straight in and sit in front, the handler returns around it and releases, usually with much praise for a job well done.
  4. Then all dogs in the class have had their turn, they all come together to do a one minute sit stay and a two minute down stay, all off lead in a row with the handlers standing five metres away.

Three passes of a minimum 85 points out of a possible 100 points under at least two different judges will qualify the dog for the award Community Companion Dog, which follows after the dog's name and is normally abbreviated to C.C.D

Companion Dog (C.D.)

Obedience trialling at the Novice level consists of the performance of a number of exercises in a formal ring situation. These exercises are:

  1. The heeling exercise is off lead so it requires a lot more input and concentration from the dog to stay with the handler
  2. The stand for examination is also off lead with the handler standing two metres away
  3. The recall is a bit longer at 15 metres and after the dog comes in and sits, it must return to the handler and sit at heel on the left side.
  4. The last exercise has a handler’s choice between retrieving a dumbbell over four metres or the dog doing a change of position where it is left in a stand and, with the handler three metres in front, goes into the down on command and stays there whilst the handler returns around it.
  5. The stay exercises are harder too, the sit for a minute and the down for three minutes and the handlers are all 10 metres away.

Three passes of a minimum of 170 points out of a possible 200 under at least two different judges will qualify the dog for the award Companion Dog, which follows after the dog's name and is normally abbreviated to C.D.

Companion Dog Excellent (C.D.X.)

Most dogs enjoy this, it’s fun, but the expected standard of the work is higher and introduces jumping, and stays in which the handler is out of sight. The formal exercises are:

  1. The heeling is off lead and more demanding.
  2. The stand for examination has the handler five metres away and the judge touches all of the dog, except its mouth and tail.
  3. The recall has a drop somewhere in the middle, when the judge says, and the dog must remain in the down position until called in.
  4. The dog retrieves a dumbbell thrown at least six metres, sits in front, lets the handler take it, and returns to the handler’s left side.
  5. The other retrieve is the handler’s choice of retrieve a dumbbell thrown 4 metres over a solid jump or a directed retrieve of a glove at 10 metres distance.
  6. Next comes a handler’s choice between jumping over a broad jump and returning to the handler or a change of position where the dog is left in a stand and does a down and sit on the spot then recalls to the handler.
  7. The stays have the handlers all leaving the ring and waiting out of sight nearby whilst the dogs do a three minute sit and a five minute down stay.

Three passes of a minimum of 170 points out of a possible 200 under at least two different judges will qualify the dog for the award Companion Dog Excellent, which follows after the dog's name and is normally abbreviated to C.D.X.

Utility Dog (U.D.)

This gets really hard because the dog has to leave the handler and perform tasks which are more complex, although it looks easy watching a well trained dog going through the exercises. It introduces scent work, and demands a high level of training and understanding between dog and handler. The formal exercises are:

  1. First is the seek back, where the dog and handler heel around the ring to make a track and somewhere along the track an article carrying the handler’s scent is placed, then the dog has to go and find this and bring it back and present it to the handler.
  2. Most dogs love directed jumping where they run out 25 metres and sit in a square frame, then return to the handler over a bar jump or a solid jump on either side of the ring, whichever the handler points to.
  3. The dog performs scent discrimination, either on a canvas mat or on the ground, there are 12 articles of metal, wood and leather put out by the judge or steward, and the dog is sent to the articles to retrieve a similar article which the handler has touched, this is done three times, once for each sort of article
  4. The heeling exercise is harder because it is all done by signals only, no voice commands allowed, and at the end the dog is left in the stand, the handler signals it to down, sit, recall and finish.
  5. A choice of three exercises, the dog can speak on command where it barks in two positions, the sit, stand or drop, or it can do food refusal where it refuses offered food in two positions, the sit, stand or drop or it may do directed retrieve where it retrieves the designated glove out of three placed six metres apart.
  6. The stand for examination is done as a group exercise.
  7. The only stay exercise is a five minute down with the handlers out of sight nearby.

Three passes of a minimum of 170 points out of a possible 200 under at least two different judges will qualify the dog for the award Utility Dog, which follows after the dog's name and is normally abbreviated to U.D.

Utility Dog Excellent (U.D.X.)

The exercises at this level extend on those in the Utility section but there is no jumping, so it suits our older dogs. The exercises are:

  1. The seek back is as in utility but there is a decoy article scented by someone else which the dog must not retrieve.
  2. A heeling pattern, positions in motion, in which signals or voice may be used, and three times the dog is left in a sit, a stand or a drop whilst the handler walks forward five metres, returns three metres past the dog and returns, collecting the dog on the way.
  3. The scent discrimination is finding a cloth article scented by the judge from amongst unscented ones.
  4. A two part exercise, directed send away and recall in which the dog goes out 25 metres and sits in a square marked by four cones, the handler walks towards the dog and, when instructed, turns and calls the dog to heel, does a right or left turn then a halt, with the dog at heel by this time.
  5. Distance control where the dog is left in a stand and changes position six times as the judge instructs, including sits, stands and downs, all on the spot.
  6. The dog retrieves two articles, following the handler’s direction signal.
  7. The last exercise is a group stand for examination with the handlers facing away from the dogs.

Three passes of a minimum of 170 points out of a possible 200 under at least two different judges will qualify the dog for the award Utility Dog Excellent, which follows after the dog's name and is normally abbreviated to U.D.X

Link to current ANKC Obedience Rules --->  Obedience Rule Book [01-01-2021]