Louise Harding

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Competition Obedience
Louise Harding
9 September 2020
7 December 2023
2.75 minutes

What is Competition Obedience?

An obedience trial is a dog sport in which a dog must perfectly execute a predefined set of tasks when directed to do so by their handler.  The objective is to showcase a well-trained dog who can perform a range of complex behaviours in an accurate fashion while enjoying the camaraderie with their owner/handler. The handler should demonstrate smooth and natural handling without using harsh commands.

Competition Obedience is a precision sport and requires teamwork with input from both dog and handler. Most of the exercises are an extension of the simple behaviours we encourage pet owners to teach.

The exercises include, heeling, recalls, stays and more complex exercises like scent discrimination, sendaways and returning to the handler by jumping over jumps.  When performing the heeling exercise, the dog is required to heel next to the handler's leg on the left hand side performing positions which are, sit, stand and down. The heelwork also involves moving at different paces, slow, normal and fast.

In Australian obedience, there are 5 classes:

  1. Community Companion Dog Class
  2. Novice Class
  3. Open Class
  4. Utility Dog Class
  5. Utility Dog Excellent Class

Classes are designed to be progressive, allowing the dog and handler to grow in skill and experience as titles are earned. 

There are NO BREED RESTRICTIONS in Competition Obedience. The most common breeds you’re likely to see competing are from either the working or retrieving groups, for example: Border Collies, Kelpies, Shepherds, Collies, Sheepdogs, Cattle Dogs and Curly coats, Golden and Labrador Retrievers. However, it is always wonderful to see minority breeds competing in this sport as it's open to any breed.  

I have always loved competing in Obedience and for me, there is nothing more enjoyable than sharing the rapport with a dog who is focused and happy in their work. 


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NOSE to TAILA Holistic Guide to Training Your Dream DogLouise Harding Author, Speaker and Master Dog Trainer


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