Dalmatians & Obedience Trials
Dog Obedience training usually refers to the training of a dog. Obedience training ranges from very basic training, such as teaching the dog to reliably respond to basic commands such as “sit”, “down”, “come”, and “stay”, to high level competition within clubs such as Dogs Victoria where additional commands, accuracy and performance are scored and judged.
Dalmatians have an above average IQ
Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better
Dalmatians have the sheer attitude, intelligence and outgoing personality to be trained. They can be seen trialling in obedience, agility, endurance and many other activities and competitions.
Once the puppy has had its first permanent vaccination at around 12 weeks, it can join a puppy class, which many of the Dogs Victorias obedience clubs. These classes teach good manners and the basic obedience every dog needs to fit in with the world. They are the first step towards more formal classes which some owners wish to go on with and maybe eventually end up entering their dog in obedience trials.
Training dogs has changed a lot in recent years, with a huge emphasis on positive methods through which the dog learns by being placed in a situation where it will succeed and receives a reward of some sort – play, toys, food, pats – for its efforts. More traditional methods of training by unpleasant correction have been replaced because it have been realised that the end product of positive teaching is a much happier, more willing dog who keeps asking for more, more, more.
Trials are held all over Victoria and Australia during most of the year. To compete you need a trained dog that is registered with a controlling body – in Victoria it is DOGS Victoria – and you must be a member. Any dog can trial regardless of its parents, purebred or not. Dogs without registration papers may trial as associates and everyone competes together.
There are five levels of obedience in Australia, they become progressively more challenging. A dog has to attain one title at a time working up the ladder. A title is completed when the dog has obtained three passes of 175 points or more out of 200, and the dog must pass every exercise within the test. The only exception is the entry class of Community Companion Dog which requires 75 points out of 100 on offer.
Five Obedience levels
Community Companion Dog – CCD
In this class:
- the dog and handler work together as a team to perform a heel on lead exercise, including sits, stands and downs as the judge calls them
- next is stand for examination where the dog stands quietly on lead whilst the judge comes up and strokes the back and head
- finally the dog is left sitting whilst the handler walks away 10 meters then turns and recalls the dog, which should come straight in and sit in front, the handler returns around it and releases, usually with much praise for a job well done
- when all dogs in the class have had their turn, they all come together to do a one minute sit stay and a two minute down stay, all off lead in a row with the handlers standing six metres away.
Companion Dog – CD
Things get a little harder here:
- the heeling exercise is off lead so it requires a lot more input and concentration from the dog to stay next to the handler
- the stand for examination is also off lead with the handler standing two metres away
- the recall is a bit longer at 12 metres and after the dog comes in and sits, it must go around the handler and sit at heel on the left side.
- the last exercise has a handler’s choice between retrieving a dumbbell over four metres or the dog doing a change of position where it is left in a stand and, with the handler three metres in front, goes into the down on command and stays there whilst the handler returns around it.
- the stay exercises are harder too, the sit for a minute and the down for three minutes and the handlers are all 12 metres away.
Companion Dog Excellent – CDX
Most dogs love this, because it is fun, but the standard of the work is expected to be higher:
- the heeling is off lead and more demanding
- the stand for examination has the handler five metres away and the judge touches all of the dog, except its mouth and tail
- the recall has a drop somewhere in the middle of it, when the judge says, and must stay there until called in
- the dog retrieves a dumbbell thrown at least six metres, sits in front, lets the handler take it, and returns to the handlers left side again
- the other retrieve is over a solid jump set at the height of the dog measured at the shoulders
- next comes a handler’s choice between jumping over a broad jump and returning to the handler or a change of position where the dog is left in a stand and does a down and sit on the spot then recalls to the handler
- the stays have the handlers all leaving the ring and hiding nearby whilst the dogs do a three minute sit and a five minute down
Utility Dog – UD
This gets really hard because the dog has to go away from the handler and do things which are really quite complicated, although it looks easy watching an experienced dog doing it.
- first is the seek back, where the dog and handler heel around the ring to make a track and somewhere along the track an article of the handler’s is placed, then the dog has to go and find this and bring it back and present it to the handler
- most dogs love directed jumping where they run out 25 metres and sit in a square frame, then return to the handler over a bar jump or a solid jump on either side of the ring, whichever the handler points to
- the dog performs scent discrimination, either on a canvas mat or on the grass, there are 12 metal, wood and leather articles put out by the judge or steward, and the dog is sent to the articles to retrieve a similar article which the handler has touched, this is done three times, once for each sort of article
- the heeling is harder because the handler is not allowed to speak, it is all done by signals, and at the end the dog is left in the stand, the handler signals it to down, sit, recall and finish
- a choice of three things, the dog can speak on command where it barks in the sit, stand and drop, or it can do food refusal where it refuses offered food in the sit, stand and drop or it may do directed retrieve where it retrieves the correct glove out of three placed six metres apart
- the stand for examination is done as a group exercise
- the only stay exercise is a seven minute down with the handlers hiding somewhere
Utility Dog Excellent – UDX
This is a rather new title in Australia. It is very difficult but many handlers and dogs are enjoying the challenge of something new. There is no jumping, so it suits our older dogs.
- the seek back is as in utility but there is a decoy article scented by someone else which the dog must not retrieve
- a heeling pattern, positions in motion, in which signals or voice may be used, and three times the dog is left in a sit, a stand or a drop whilst the handler walks forward five metres, returns three metres past the dog and returns, collecting the dog on the way
- the scent discrimination is finding a cloth article scented by the judge from amongst unscented ones
- a two part exercise, directed send away and recall in which the dog goes out 25 metres and sits in a square marked by four cones, the handler walks towards the dog and, when instructed, turns and calls the dog to heel, does a right or left turn then a halt, with the dog at heel by this time
- the dog is left in a stand and changes position six times as the judge instructs, including sits, stands and downs, all on the spot, this is called distance control
- the dog retrieves three articles which it cannot see, following the handler’s direction signal
- the last exercise is a temperament test which is a group stand for examination
All these obedience titles are shown after the dog’s name and in fact becomes part of the registered name. There is one exception – obedience champion – this title is shown before the name as OC or O Ch, depending when the title was achieved. An obedience champion has gained his/her UD title, after which it has achieved a further five passes of 185/200 points or more in the utility class.
If you want to know more about the serious side of obedience trialling, you should purchase a copy of the obedience rule book, available from DOGS Victoria or most obedience clubs.