Competitive Obedience is a dog-sport and has been since the 1950s. Obedience was originally a part of Working Trials competition. Working Trials was the original dog sport and the civilian version of Police Dog training involving the range of exercises taught to serving Police Dogs heelwork, tracking, searching, sendaway, retrieving, 9 long-jump, 6 scale and 1 metre clear-jump.
Obedience was originally only one part of the test, however, breaking away from the Working Trials scene; it then became a sport in its own right.
In the main people get into Obedience by taking their pet dog or puppy to a training class in order to have a well-mannered, sociable and well-behaved pet. While most people will achieve these aims and leave it at that there are many that find the training, the environment and the weekly social event something they enjoy and get hooked.
Those that decide to continue training and achieve a high enough standard of obedience may first decide to compete at Exemption Shows, which can also have obedience classes. For most exemption shows entrants turn up on the day and pay to enter the class, or classes, for which they are eligible. As the name implies exemption shows are exempt from the Kennel Club rules and therefore any dog can enter. Dogs do not have to be registered with the Kennel Club.
If however, a person then decides that they would like to compete in Limited, Open or Championship shows then their dog would have to be registered with the Kennel Club as they are only open to registered dogs. Any dog can be registered including rescue-dogs and cross-breeds.
To enter a Limit, Open and Championship shows, run by the Kennel Club under its rules, a competitor must send off their entry form to the club by a published closing date (usually one month or so before the show) to secure their place in the appropriate classes.
In the lowest/entry level class there are 4 exercises, which are: Heelwork on lead, and Heelwork off lead, in both the competitor follows the commands of a ring steward who directs them around a short pattern set by the judge, a recall and a retrieve.
From pre-beginners through to Championship Class C, each class increases in difficulty, but the increases are gradual and designed so that a dog should be able to progress from one to the other with appropriate training.
The classes are: