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Obedience tests the true working team relationship between handlers and their dogs. In the regular classes, dogs and handlers progress from the Novice level to the Open and Utility levels. Scoring starts at 200. Any team that ends their run with a score of 170 or more and has passed each individual exercise with at least 50% of the total points, will receive a qualifying score (known as a "Q"). Ties for placements (highest scores – first through fourth) are broken with heeling run-offs. Dogs must qualify a total of three times within a class, under a minimum of 2 different judges, to earn their title. They must do this for every class level until the UDX, which then requires double Qs in both Open and Utility on the same day, from the same judge. The UDX requires 10 double Qs (a total of 20 qualifying runs).

At the Novice level, teams begin on-leash for the heeling and figure-8 exercise, and then go off-leash for the remaining exercises. In Open and Utility, all exercises are done off-leash. Each class level builds upon the prior one with dogs being challenged with more advanced heel work, recalls, the addition of jumps (Pugs are eligible to jump 3/4 their withers height*), directional jumping, directional retrieves, scent work, and group stay exercises. Dogs whom work towards the UDX begin to acquire OTCh (Obedience Trial Champion) points. Earning an OTCh is not only very difficult, but is a true testament of the working relationship and bond between that handler and their dog. Each year the top AKC Obedience dogs receive an invitation to the National Obedience Invitational, in hopes of earning the National Obedience Championship (NOC), which determines the best AKC Obedience dog of the year. At individual trials, many handlers covet the High In Trial rosette. The High In Trial dog is the highest scoring Obedience dog for that day. It can be really fun to see a Novice team earn a HIT. UDX dogs have the additional award of High Combined, which goes to the team with the highest combined score out of Utility B and Open B for that day.

The newer Preferred titles are similar to the above regular titles with a few exceptions. All dogs jump at half their regular jump heights**. In addition there are no group exercises at the Novice and Open levels. The Novice dogs do a sit or down stay (similar to Beginner Novice). A dog that has a CDX title is ineligible to show in PCD. The new Preferred classes are great for dogs not ready for the Regular Obedience classes, is no longer or unable to jump at higher heights, or is not ready for groups. In addition to AKC Obedience, there are other venues that offer Obedience, such as UKC Obedience. There are also additional non-regular classes, such as brace (two dogs working together) and team.

Click here to see the current PDCA Obedience Rankings.

Obedience Titles

Regular Titling Classes Preferred Titling Classes Optional Titling Classes Additional
Championship Titles
CD (Companion Dog/Novice) PCD (Preferred Novice) BN
(Beginner Novice)
(Obedience Master - 9 title levels)
(Companion Dog Excellent/Open)
PCDX (Preferred Open) GN
(Graduate Novice)
(Grand Master - 10th title level)
UD (Utility Dog) PUTD (Preferred Utility) GO (Graduate Open) NOC
(National Obedience Champion)
UDX (Utility Dog Excellent) PUDX
(Preferred Utility Dog Excellent)
VER (Versatility) VCD
(Versatile Companion Dog - four title levels)
(Obedience Trial Champion)
(Preferred Obedience Champion)

*Pugs are allowed to jump in AKC Obedience at three-quarter (3/4) their withers measurement (e.g., a 12" withers measurement jumps 8").
**Preferred jump heights are done at half the dog's regular jump height (e.g., a 12" withers measurement jumps 6").

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