Conformation events (dog shows) are intended to evaluate breeding stock. The dog's conformation (overall appearance and structure), an indication of the dog's ability to produce quality puppies, is judged. This is based on what is called the "Standard".
One of the easiest ways to get involved in the world of dog sports is with a Coursing Ability Test (CAT). Designed specifically for newcomers, each dog chases after an artificial lure on either a 300- or 600-yard long course and must finish in less 1 ½ minutes and 2 minutes, respectively.
Think of Fast CAT – which stands for Coursing Ability Test – like measuring a track star’s speed: Dogs run individually in a timed 100-yard dash.
Agility is a sport designed to demonstrate a dog's willingness to work with its handler in a variety of situations. It is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training and teamwork. Dog and handlers negotiate an obstacle course racing against the clock.
The AKC offers three types of agility classes. The first, Standard Class, includes contact objects such as the dog walk, the A-frame, and seesaw. Each of the contact obstacles has a "safety zone" painted on the object and the dog must place at least one paw in that area to complete the obstacle. The second is Jumpers with Weaves. It has only jumps, tunnels and weaves poles with no contact objects to slow the pace. The third is FAST, which stands for Fifteen and Send Time. This class is designed to test handler and dog teams' strategy skill, accuracy, speed and distance handling.
All classes offer increasing levels of difficulty to earn Novice, Open, Excellent and Master titles. After completing both an Excellent Standard title and an Excellent Jumpers title, handler and dog teams can compete for the MACH - faster than the speed of sound! (Master Agility Championship title.)
Demonstrating the usefulness of a dog as a companion to humankind, AKC Obedience is a sport with rules, regulations, judges, conditioning, training, placements and prizes. Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge's mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises. Accuracy and precision are essential, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are very important.
Each level of obedience competition - novice, open, and utility - requires mastering a specific skill set, which increase in difficulty, before advancing to the next level.
Novice Class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. In the Novice Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog (CD) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.
Open Class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added. In the Open Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.
Utility Class, includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class. In the Utility Class, dogs earn an AKC Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving qualifying scores from three different judges. Upon completion of the UD title, dogs may earn the Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) when they receive qualifying scores in both Open B and Utility B at 10 separate trials.
Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) title is often referred to as the "PhD" for dogs, is the highest obedience honor a dog can receive. To obtain an OTCH title, a dog and handler team must earn 100 points by placing first, second, third or fourth in the Open B or Utility B class. Three first places must also be awarded from the Open B and Utility B classes.
For generations small terriers and Dachshunds were bred as hunting dogs to track game above and below ground; to bark at their quarry in the den and to bolt or draw it for the hunter. Now these wonderful little dogs are very suitable as family pets, however, they sometimes have to be trained not to bark at every little noise and not to dig in the yard or garden. Barking and digging are what they were bred for all those years, so now AKC has developed the three levels of Earthdog tests for these game little dogs.
Introduction to Quarry
The initial test is the Introduction to Quarry (IQ) where the dog is introduced to a 10 foot tunnel with one right angle turn and at the end is a cage of rats behind a set of bars. There is a scent trail of rat scent leading into the tunnel and to the rats. At this level the handler can encourage the dog into the tunnel and the judge may help get the dog working at the rats by shaking the cage or making a noise to incite the dog's instincts.
The first level where a title is earned is the Junior Earthdog test where the dog may earn a Junior Earthdog title (J.E.). The dog must travel a 30 foot den with at least three right angle turns in 30 seconds; work the rats at the end of the tunnel (in a cage behind bars as in IQ)for 60 seconds; and then allow the handler to remove him without injury to the dog or handler. Once the dog completes these requirements twice under two different judges he will receive the title of J.E. and receive a Junior Earthdog certificate from the AKC.
The second level of Earthdog test is the Senior Earthdog test where the dog may earn a Senior Earthdog title (S.E.). The den is 30 feet with at least three right angle turns and there are the added distractions of a false, unscented exit and an unscented bedding area with used rat bedding at the end. The dog has 90 seconds to travel the tunnel length and get to the rats; must begin working the rats within 15 seconds of arriving at the end of the tunnel; and must work the rats for 90 seconds. At the end of the 90 seconds the rats are removed and the dog must recall from the den to the handler within 90 seconds. Once the dog completes these requirements under two different judges at three different tests, the dog will be designated a Senior Earthdog (S.E.).
The final level of the Earthdog test is the Master Earthdog (M.E.) title. The dog must actually hunt his way to the den with a bracemate 100 to 300 yards. On the way he must investigate an empty, unscented den when the handler asks him to. Then both dogs must find the entrance to the den and mark it decisively so that there is no question the dog is indicating an active den. The den itself is like the Senior den with the addition of two obstacles: a 6 inch diameter PVC pipe crossways in the den to simulate a root and a narrowing down to 6 inches for a distance of 18 inches. The Master competitor has 90 seconds to get to his quarry; must work the rats for 90 seconds and must allow himself to be removed from the den by his handler within 15 seconds. While one dog is working the other dog is staked out and must wait his turn with minimum amount of noise while his bracemate works the quarry. Once a dog successfully completes all parts of the Master test four times under three different judges the dog shall be designated a Master Earthdog and may continue to compete at all three levels at Earthdog tests.
Few small terriers and Dachshunds are regularly hunted to ground by their owners in natural hunts, but the AKC Earthdog tests allow these game little dogs an outlet for their excess energy and instincts in a way that benefits the dogs and the owners.
Barn Hunt is the new and quickly growing dog sport catching fire across the country! Barn Hunt is based on the traditional roles of many breeds in ridding farms, barns, crop storage areas, and homes of destructive vermin. Some breeds were specifically created to fill this role, and for many of those breeds, Barn Hunt provides their first true opportunity for responsible breeders to test proper working traits in their dogs. Barn Hunt is also open to any dog of any breed or mix who wishes to play the game and can fit through an 18" wide by bale-height tall tunnel. Barn Hunt has titles, levels of increasing difficulty, and championships. Barn Hunt is an independent sport, but titles are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Beginning in January 2018, Barn Hunt titles will be recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).
Dock Diving is one of the fastest growing sports for your dog. North America Diving Dogs is an organization that has enhanced the sport by working with dock diving facilities & competitors across North America.
North America Diving Dogs titles are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) though the AKC’s Title Recognition Program. Your dog DOES NOT have to be an AKC registered dog to participate in a North America Diving Dogs trial. Dogs without an AKC Pedigree may join the AKC’s Canine Partners program for AKC Titling recognition.
Diving dogs is a canine sport in which dogs are enticed to run the length of a dock and leap as far out into the water as possible to compete for height or distance. They’re motivated to fly with a prized toy, which is thrown just out of reach in order to help them keep their momentum and get the best launch angle possible.
Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club’s affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work.
While dogs of other breeds are also actively involved in the sport of Schutzhund and often follow similar criteria for breeding purposes, this breed evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog’s intelligence and utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog’s mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability.
This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler’s ability to train and the dog’s ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport.
Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours! The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing, and asks a dog to sniff to their heart’s content; turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It is a terrific sport for all kinds of dogs, and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.
In so many dog sports the handler is in control but this isn’t true in Scent Work. Neither the dog nor handler knows where the target odor is hidden. The handler has to rely on the dog, and follow the dog’s nose to success. In Scent Work, it is the canine who is the star of the show.
The sport of Scent Work is based on the work of professional detection dogs (such as drug dogs), employed by humans to detect a wide variety of scents and substances. In AKC Scent Work, dogs search for cotton swabs saturated with the essential oils of Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress. The cotton swabs are hidden out of sight in a pre-determined search area, and the dog has to find them. Teamwork is necessary: when the dog finds the scent, he has to communicate the find to the handler, who calls it out to the judge.