Obedience is a performance competition where handler and dog must work together to allow the dog to accomplish various tasks when asked.
Some degree of obedience training generally is considered essential for a Tervuren to be a "civilized" companion. The American Kennel Club awards the "Canine Good Citizen" (CGC) certificate to dogs that display the willingness and ability to accomplish certain basic tasks. Many Tervuren excel at obedience work and Tervuren are frequently amongthe nationally top-ranked obedience competitors each year.
The exercises in obedience include:
- Moving beside the handler (heeling) on and off lead
- Come when called
- Stand for examination
- Sit and stay on command
- Lie down and stay on command
- Jump various sized and shaped obstacles
- Retrieve articles
Some of these exercises have practical applications for a dog as high spirited as most Tervuren. Many breeders consider some obedience training essential and will require purchasers to provide their new pet with some formal classes.
Puppies are learning all the time! Obedience training may commence when the puppy is only a few weeks old using methods designed with puppies in mind.
Formal obedience competitions separate dogs and their handlers by their experience. The levels for the dogs are Novice, Open, and Utility. Handlers are required to show in classes designated "B" when they have previously titled a dog at that level. Handlers without that experience may show in the "A" classes.
Dogs are not separated by breed. The only difference between the exercises performed by a Tervuren and those for a Chihuahua is the height of the jumps in the advanced classes.
A perfect obedience score is 200 points and each dog/handler team enters the ring with that score. The judge makes deductions based on the team's deviations from the description of a perfect performance in the AKC obedience regulations. The team needs at least 170 points to qualify for a "leg" toward its title. Three qualifying scores, or legs, are required to earn each title.
AKC Obedience Titles are displayed as abbreviations suffixed to a dog's registered name:
- Companion Dog (CD) for three qualifying Novice trials
- Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) for three qualifying Open trials
- Utility Dog (UD) for three qualifying Utility trials
- Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) for ten qualifying Open and Utility trials
The scores earned by all of the dogs competing in each obedience class are used to determine class placements. There is also an award for highest scoring dog in trial (HIT) and the dog with the highest combined score in Open and Utility (HC).
Dogs that earn 100 points by placing in the Open or Utility "B" classes are awarded the title Obedience Trial Champion, which prefixes their registered name with the abbreviation "OTCH."
Obedience trials often are conducted in conjunction with all-breed conformation shows. Many local all-breed and obedience clubs offer training. Ask your breeder, veterinarian or the American Kennel Club about opportunities in your area.