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An obedience trial is an event at which dogs and handlers perform exercises as set forth in the American Kennel Club's Obedience Regulations, and are judged on the performance by A.K.C. approved judges.

As stated in the Obedience Regulations, "The purpose of Obedience Trials is to demonstrate the usefulness of the pure-bred dog as a companion of man, not merely the dog's ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring...the basic objective of obedience trials is to produce dogs that have been trained and conditioned always to behave in the home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience..."

Obedience trials, being governed by the A.K.C., are limited to pure-bred dogs at least six months of age qualified by training to participate.
There are three levels of training. The average dog in the Novice classes has had at least a year of work, and is following practical commands used in every day living...only he is following them according to A.K.C. regulations and has been conditioned to work with his handler in difficult situations The second level is Open work which is more stringent, and the highest level, the Utility class, is one which only a small percentage of dogs started in training ever reach. The Open and Utility classes are primarily for those seeking greater perfection in performance or for competition purposes.

Through the Novice Class, dogs earn the Companion Dog (C.D.) title, through the Open Class, the Companion Dog Excellent (C.D.X.) title; and through the Utility Class, the Utility Dog (U.D.) title. The team (handler and dog) compete against a top score of 200 to win A.K.C. Obedience titles. To earn a we, a team must qualify in three trials under three different judges by receiving at least 170 points out of a possible 200, and, in each exercise must receive more than half of the available points allotted.

In order to qualify, a dog must, on one command or signal, perform the principal feature of each exercise in an acceptable manner. The table which follows includes the order of exercises in each class, and the principal feature of that exercise. Also, the available points for each exercise are given.
 

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