Obedience is a team sport. Each team consists of a dog and handler pair that works together as a team. In competition, either the dog or the handler can lose points by making mistakes. Obedience is fun, and helps build a bond between handler and dog. The Greater Kansas City Dog Training Club holds obedience trials on a Saturday and Sunday in March, under AKC rules, with qualifying scores applying to AKC obedience titles.


Novice obedience is the beginning level for a dog/handler team. Novice dogs must score 170 out of a possible 200 points to qualify for a “leg” toward their title. Three legs are required to achieve the title, earned under two different judges. The dog must heal on the off leash, with automatic sits, and matching pace to the handler at the Judge’s commands, and perform the Figure Eight at heel. He must stand for examination, perform an off lead recall of at least 35 feet, and return to heel position on command. He must also complete the long sit (one minute) and long down (three minutes) in a group with the other dogs in his class. The handler is in the ring with the dog during the group exercises. Novice “A” dogs are those whose handler has never titled a dog before. Novice “B” is the class for experienced handlers. There is no difference in performance of the exercises.

OPEN OBEDIENCE TITLE: CDX (Companion Dog Excellent)

Open obedience requires the usual 170/200 points for a qualifying score, and three legs for a title. All exercises in the Open class are done off lead, including the Heel and Figure Eight, a Drop on Recall, and a Retrieve on Flat. The dog must also retrieve over the high jump, and execute the broad jump. Following the above, the dog will do a three minute long sit, and a five minute long down with the handler out of sight. The Open A designation is for dogs who have not earned their CDX title handled by someone who has not completed an OTCH title on any day. The Open B class is for dogs who have their CDX and are competing for a UDX, breed rankings or OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) points.


Utility is the most difficult, but also the most interesting of the obedience classes. For his 170/200 score, the dog must complete a signal exercise done entirely with hand signals, including heeling, stand, down, sit and recall. The moving stand and examination, directed retrieve and directed jumping indicate that the dog is working with the handler with a high degree of attention and skill. Scent discrimination requires the dog to pick his handlers object (leather or metal) from a group of other identical objects, and return it to the handler. The degree of precision and teamwork in a utility competition is fascinating to watch, and represents years of work by dog and handler alike. Utility A is for dogs not yet having a UD title. Utility B is for dogs who have their UD and are competing for a UDX, breed ranking or OTCH points.


To earn the next highest title of Utility Dog Excellent (UDX), the dog must have a UD, but does not really have to learn any new tricks. This title requires that the dog qualify (get a score of 170 or higher) in Open B and Utility B at the same show and repeat this feat 10 times.


Dogs competing for OTCH points must compete in both Open B and Utility B. They win points based on placements in shows and how many dogs they competed against. Check out the AKC’s website (AKC.org) for more information!