It’s almost here! This Sunday, Raleigh and Iggy will be competing in their third obedience trial. So far, they have each earned two qualifying legs towards their respective Beginner Novice titles. A dog needs three qualifying legs to title, so if all goes well on Sunday they’ll have them!
When we first began competing in obedience back in October, I was overwhelmed with how complex AKC Obedience can be. There are seemingly endless levels to compete in (Beginner Novice, Novice, Open, and Utility), and in addition to that, letters after each group (Beginner Novice A, Beginner Novice B, etc.). While I am certainly not an expert in obedience, I do feel like I have a better grasp on the various groupings than I did when I filled out that first entry form just a couple months ago (it gets easier to understand the more you do it). Raleigh and Iggy currently compete in Beginner Novice A, which differs from Beginner Novice B in that any handler who has earned an obedience title with any dog cannot compete in Beginner Novice A, but can compete in Beginner Novice B. Neither Brian nor I have handled dogs in obedience prior to Raleigh and Iggy, so we compete in the Beginner Novice A group.
In this group, dogs are given a score out of 200 based on how well they perform a series of exercises, specifically: Heel on Leash, Figure Eight, Sit for Exam, Sit Stay, and Recall. A score of at least 170 is required to receive a qualifying leg towards a Beginner Novice title. At this point in our training, we practice all of these regularly in class and at home, so our dogs are familiar with all of the exercises. Raleigh has scored particularly well in her first two trials; a 198.5 in the first and a 197 in the second, earning her first place in Beginner Novice A in both of those trials. Iggy scored a 195 in his first trial, earning him third place, and a 192 in his second trial, earning him second place. The first trial we entered was at our home club, St. Paul Dog Training Club (SPDTC), and our second trial was held at Bloomington Obedience Training Club (BOTC), where our dogs have never been before! I was particularly proud of Raleigh for her performance at BOTC, because the change in location didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest.
The biggest difference between Raleigh and Iggy is that Raleigh has a very good heel, while Iggy’s is still something of a work in progress. Raleigh pays very close attention to Brian as she completes her heeling exercises, but Iggy’s lesser experience in obedience causes him to lose focus while heeling. Hopefully we can have a good trial, and bring home two Beginner Novice titles. Wish us luck!