Main
  • 1
  • 2
Follow Us

I had a request from a newcomer to provide some clarification of terms used commonly in obedience, so here goes.

AKC OBEDIENCE TITLES

What are the titles a dog can earn, and how do you know if a particular dog has a particular title?` Here is a list of obedience titles, which are placed after the dog’s name, except that championship titles and UKC titles (see below) are placed in front of the dog’s name.
Companion Dog or CD
Companion Dog Excellent or CDX
Utility Dog or UD
Utility Dog Excellent or UDX
Obedience Trial Champion or OTCh
Tracking Dog or TD (if a dog has both a UD and a TD, the abbreviation becomes UDT)
Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX (if a dog has both a UD and a TDX, the abbreviation becomes UDTX)
Variable Surface Tracker or VST
Champion Tracker or CT
Versatile Companion Dog or VCD 1 through 4
Versatile Companion Champion or VCCH
National Obedience Champion or NOC, which can only be earned once a year, by winning the AKC National Obedience Invitational

There is a whole series of breed-specific titles for performance events like herding, hunting, lure coursing, etc., as well as a lengthy list of agility titles. To recognize the dogs that succeed in obedience, agility and tracking, the AKC recently added titles for Versatile Companion Dogs at levels 1 through 4, and a Versatile Companion Champion for those that reach the top levels in all three areas. Here is how it looks for the redoubtable Zebulon, snoring at my feet. His official name is U-CDX, U-AGII Ch. Zephyre Gotta Dance UDX, TD, HT, MX, MXJ, VCD2. All of this alphabet soup translates as UKC Companion Dog Excellent, UKC Agility Dog II, Champion in conformation, Utility Dog Excellent, Tracking Dog, Herding Tested, Master Agility Excellent, Master Agility Excellent Jumpers, and finally, Versatile Companion Dog 2. He also has a couple of NADAC and USDAA agility titles.

If Rally Obedience is ever made a titling class (it’s been pending for a couple of years now), there will be still more titles to acquire: RN for Rally Novice, RA for Rally Advanced and RX for Rally Excellent. And still more titles if Pre-Novice is made a titling class (I hope not).

When you earn a qualifying score toward any of these titles, it is called a leg on that title.

NON-QUALIFICATION, DISQUALIFICATION AND EXCUSAL

Many exhibitors use these terms interchangeably; but they have different meanings.

A non-qualifying score (or NQ, flunk, bust, etc.) simply means that your dog failed to pass in one class at one show. You and the dog can go home, work on the problem exercise, and show again at the next trial.

A disqualification is a much more serious matter. A dog that is disqualified may not again compete at an AKC event unless and until the owner appeals the disqualification to the AKC and is notified by the AKC that the dog has been reinstated. There are five reasons why a dog would be disqualified:

1. If it is blind.
2. If it is deaf.
3. If it has been artificially altered except as is customary for its breed (like cropping the tail on a Doberman).
4. If it attacks or attempts to attack any person in the ring.
5. If it attacks or attempts to attack another dog in the ring on two occasions.
Notice that no blood has to be shed for it to be considered an attack. Now that you know the difference, you can use the correct terminology and impress your fellow exhibitors with your expertise.

EXCUSAL

Being excused from the ring means that you won‘t continue to perform any additional exercises, including the group exercises in both Novice and Open. Being excused applies only to the class involved and doesn’t affect any other classes in which the dog is entered on that day or any other day. The exception to this rule is that a dog will be excused if she has stitches anywhere on her body and won’t be allowed to compete again until the stitches have been removed.

If your dog is lame or sick or otherwise unfit to compete, the judge will excuse him. Before proceeding with any other class in which the dog may be entered, consider whether the condition is an isolated occurrence (the dog stepped on a burr that you’ve since removed and is now moving soundly) or if the condition is likely to continue (the dog has galloping diarrhea), and then decide if the dog needs to be taken to the vet or at least removed from competition.

There are a number of other reasons why a judge may excuse either the exhibitor or the dog (although you both must leave when this happens). If the dog, in the judge's opinion, is not under the handler's control (running around the ring as soon as the leash is taken off, barking continuously, urinating to mark territory, or even heeling so poorly on leash that the judge is certain disaster will result when the leash is removed), the judge should excuse the dog. This is done to protect other dogs from potential trouble. If the exhibitor does something she’s not supposed to, like continuously giving the dog leash corrections, or chewing gum or candy in the ring, the judge may excuse the team. The judge is required to write the reason for an excusal in the judge’s book, so you can check it after the class is over, if you don’t understand why you got booted out. Usually, the judge will take a moment in the ring to explain to you why you are being excused.

Being excused is a one-time deal, and the AKC will not put a black mark in its records by your name. The one negative effect excusal has is in Open B and Utility B, as a dog that has been excused will not be counted in the total number of dogs shown. This can affect OTCh points for the winners.

I hope this has provided some clarification, or at least not left you more confused. I want to do a brief self-promotion here, by telling you that all of this information and much more is available in the newest edition of my book, Successful Obedience Handling, published by Alpine Publications.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Obedience Balance the Beast

  • Random Thoughts
  • Words, Words, Words
  • STAY as Sweet as You Are
  • What to Wear, What to Wear
  • What's Sauce for the goose...
  • Say NO to "NO"
This is an excerpt from Melinda Wichmann's last BALANCE THE BEASTcolumn in the December 2008 issue of the TNT.  Melinda writes: I'd like to leave you with some random thoughts about obedience training, many of which I learned from Jamie (OTCH U-UD Ariel's Escape Through Time UDX3 VCD2 TD MX MXJ MXP MJP RE NF) who is a wonderful patient teacher. Think positively and surround yourself with friends who think positively. Communicate clearly with your dog.  Show him exactly what you want and help him achieve it.  Gray areas lead to confusion, doubt and inconsistent performances. Give your dog the benefit of the doubt. Be patient.  Training certain skills will take as long as it takes.  (You can speed up the process by being a clear, consistent communicator.) When at all possible, make training look like showing. Check your look in the mirror every now and then.  Is your dog's heel position correct?  How about your posture?  Do you like the reflection you see? How can you make it better? Build a strong foundation.  Do not hesitate to back up and strengthen it if needed. Training happens any time you are interacting with your dog, not only when he is wearing Read More
I had a request from a newcomer to provide some clarification of terms used commonly in obedience, so here goes. AKC OBEDIENCE TITLES What are the titles a dog can earn, and how do you know if a particular dog has a particular title?` Here is a list of obedience titles, which are placed after the dog’s name, except that championship titles and UKC titles (see below) are placed in front of the dog’s name. Companion Dog or CD Companion Dog Excellent or CDX Utility Dog or UD Utility Dog Excellent or UDX Obedience Trial Champion or OTCh Tracking Dog or TD (if a dog has both a UD and a TD, the abbreviation becomes UDT) Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX (if a dog has both a UD and a TDX, the abbreviation becomes UDTX) Variable Surface Tracker or VST Champion Tracker or CT Versatile Companion Dog or VCD 1 through 4 Versatile Companion Champion or VCCH National Obedience Champion or NOC, which can only be earned once a year, by winning the AKC National Obedience Invitational There is a whole series of breed-specific titles for performance events like herding, hunting, lure coursing, etc., as well as a lengthy list Read More
Teaching a reliable stay is the bedrock of most training programs, including obedience, agility, herding, hunting and more.  It's one of the first things most folks teach their dogs. It's not a particularly difficult or complex behavior. So why do so many dogs have so much trouble keeping their little fannies where they were left? I think it's because handlers are in way too big a hurry to get far away from Rover, so they skip all the little steps that produce secure stays. I also think this exercise is more difficult for dogs who lack confidence. If you have such a dog, you'd best plan on doubling or tripling the time it takes to teach the stay, or you'll battle this exercise forever. I'm not going to differentiate between sit, down and stand stays here. The principle is the same. I'm going to start by reminding you about one of the most critical factors in all competition obedience training: dogs do not automatically generalize learning. That means you mustn't assume that a dog that can stay reliably in your living room can repeat this behavior in your back yard, much less at a dog show. Stay must be taught Read More
Collars for the Ring The most recent revision of the Obedience Regulations completely liberalized our choice of collars, with a few exceptions. The collars specifically prohibited are pinch collars, electronic collars and, through a later communication from the AKC, head halters. This means that you can choose a buckle collar, a cloth collar with a plastic snap or a choke collar of any color or material. The restrictions still imposed are that the collar be "properly fitted" and that there be nothing hanging from it. The Regulations also state that "No visible means of identification...may be worn or displayed by anyone..." The reason for this restriction is that the whole process of judging is supposed to be objective, so the judge is not supposed to know the identity of any dog or handler. This is laughable, as anyone who shows long enough to meet the requirements to become a judge is going to know the top handlers and dogs in their area, but I guess the concept of objectivity is worthwhile. My point in mentioning this is to tell you that it's not a good idea to use a collar with your dog's name either printed on it or displayed Read More
As I watched one of my students vigorously stroking and patting her big Gordon Setter, it was clear to me that only one of them was enjoying this activity. The dog had his ears plastered back, his jaw set and was trying to pull his head away from her massaging fingers. I asked the woman if her dog usually came up to her and solicited petting at home. She thought for a moment and then said that it was rare. "So, " I asked, "why are you petting him right now?" She replied, "To let him know I'm pleased with him and that I love him." "Do you think he's enjoying it?" I asked. She looked down at the big guy, who was still trying to avoid her hands. "I never thought about it before," she said. I pointed out the things I had observed. She was flabbergasted and said, "I never noticed those things. Now what do I do?" That was a tough question. She was trying to motivate her dog, but all she was really doing was annoying him. It had not occurred to her to observe her dog's response to stroking and handling, and to see that while Read More
I've said it here before: specific words don't really matter in dog training because dogs don't speak English (or French, or Swahili or any other human language).  Dogs learn to associate certain sounds with certain actions for which they've been rewarded or punished. For example, after a number of repetitions, Rover figures out that when his human makes the sound "sit", he (Rover) has better get his fanny on the floor. How many repetitions it will take depends on a number of factors, including the way the connection of the sound and the behavior is made by the two-legged member of the team, how innately rewarding the behavior is to the dog, how bright and how willing the individual dog is, how persistent the human is, and more. This is pretty common sense stuff, but many people still persist in believing that there is some kind of magic in finding just the right word that will make Rover perform. And if that magic word doesn't work, these folks think, it's because they didn't say it loud enough. Or often enough. Which nonsense brings me to this topic, the judicious use of words. I'm not a clicker trainer, but I certainly Read More
  • Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores;
  • How is it that some dogs carry themselves with more confidence, and perform with more enthusiasm than others? Is it
  • Dogs can be divided into two groups: folders and crumplers. The folders like everything ritualized and regular and repetitive. It's
  • The first Terv to earn the OTCH, MACH and CH The following was written by Julie Symons, proud owner-handler of
Sitemap