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The New Obedience Rules


© 2016

No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from .

In response to letters from obedience exhibitors and on the advice of an obedience advisory committee, the AKC has made the following changes in the Obedience Regulations, effective February 1, 1998.

Collars (Chapter 2, section 17):

The rules regarding collars have been loosened somewhat to allow "fancy" collars (i.e. bright colors or patterns) as well as the increasingly popular nylon snap collars. Prong collars, electronic collars, and any other special training collars (such as haltis) are still prohibited. As before, collars must be properly fitted and have nothing hanging from them. All collars are subject to approval of the judge.

Training and Warm Up on the Grounds (Chapter 2, section 26):

Once upon a time, I am told, there were no rules regarding this, and warm-up rings were even provided at many shows. Unfortunately a few inconsiderate people went too far, monopolizing the practice rings, relentlessly drilling, and harshly disciplining or even abusing their dogs. Rather than deal with the few stinkers, the AKC banned all training on the grounds of a show, only permitting a brief warmup shortly before showing, with heeling and a couple of fronts and finishes. Now the AKC has amended its rules to permit warm ups to include any exercise seen in the obedience rings (such as retrieving, stand for exam, or even jumps). However, the dog must still be on lead, the handler cannot use any physical or verbal corrections, and the warm-ups cannot interfere with any dog in the rings.

Novice A class (Chapter 3, section 1):

Under the old rules, anybody who had ever coowned a dog with somebody else who had put an AKC obedience title on a dog was not eligible for this class. Now they are (though they still have to be the owner of the dog they are showing, or a member of the owner's immediate family)! The rules have also been amended to allow people to show more than one dog at a time in Novice A, and to allow the owner to recruit an additional handler, if needed, for the long sit and down. It concludes by saying that no dog may be entered in both Novice A and Novice B at the same trial.

There was another proposed change to allow dogs with a CD to continue competing in Novice B until they earned their first Open leg; however, this did not go through. You may still only compete in Novice A or B for 60 days after your dog has earned its CD.

Open A class (Chapter 4, section 1):

The Regulations now specify that a dog may not be entered in both Open A and Open B at the same trial.

Retrieve Over High Jump (Chapter 4, section 10):

If you have been privy to conversations in training classes, at dog shows, in obedience publications, or on the internet, you know that the debate over jump heights has been raging back and forth for ages. It used to be that all breeds of dogs were required to jump 1 1/2 times their height at the withers, except for a few giant or short-legged breeds, which were eventually allowed to jump once their height. Then it was lowered to 1 1/4 times. Then the parent Clubs of some more breeds, including Chows and Rottweilers petitioned the AKC to have the jumps lowered to once their height for their breeds as well. Then the AKC recently lowered the jumps to 3/4 height for seven of the massive breeds. This latest change lowers the jumps to once their height for all those breeds that are still jumping 1 1/4. People in favor of this change say that it will bring the heights in line with other registries, such as the CKC and the UKC, encourage more people to show their dogs, and prevent jumping injuries. Those who are opposed argue that it will encourage people to show unsound dogs that shouldn't be jumping at any height, and that it is cheapening the sport by making the jumping exercises easier. To pacify the latter group, the AKC has said that one time the height at the shoulders is the minimum height, and that people can jump their dogs higher if they wish. However, higher jumping dogs will receive no extra consideration from the judge.

Another change to this section is that automatic measuring by the judge in Open and Utility has been eliminated. From now on the judge will only measure a dog if he doesn't think the jumps are set at at least the minimum height.

To obtain the full text of these changes or a copy of the Regulations with these amendments, contact the AKC or visit their website at Remember, as an exhibitor you are expected to know and obey the rules. If you are currently showing in obedience or are planning to start, get a current copy of the AKC Obedience Regulations, keep them in your training bag, and read them!

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