Obedience - The Novice Class

by Beth Barron

I thought this time I would talk about the exercise and principal parts of Novice, Novice A being for dogs not less than six months old that have not won a Companion Dog (CD) title. The handler must own the dog or be an immediate family member and not previously handled or regularly trained a dog that has earned a CD title. If you have gotten a title on a previous dog, you must enter Novice B.

1. Heel on Leash and Figure Eight 40
2. Stand for Exam 30
3. Heel free 40
4. Recall 30
5. Long Sit 30
6. Long Down 30

The point of this exercise is to show that the owner and dog work as a team. You must wait outside the ring and enter only after the judge has asked you to enter. You proceed to the starting point and your dog should be at your side in Heel position and sitting straight. The judge will ask if you are ready. At that time you should check your dog and indicate verbally or with a nod of your head that you are ready. The commands you will follow are Forward, Halt, Right Turn, Left Turn, About Turn, Slow, Normal and Fast. You must show an obvious change of pace on the Fast. When the judge says forward, you will say e.g.: "George, Heel" and step off with your left foot. Making sure that your leash is not tight and can be held in either hand or both just keeps them in a natural position throughout. You are allowed after each halt, and when the judge says "Forward", to give the command to the dog to heel. When the exercise is finished, the judge will always say "Exercise finished," and then you proceed to the next exercise. On the Figure Eight the stewards will come into the ring and stand across from each other eight feet apart. You should set yourself and your dog as a unit between these two "posts" and a step or two outside of the line of the posts. The judge will ask "Are you ready?", and you will say or indicate, "Yes." You will step out going either way in a pattern of a Figure 8 and halt upon the command of the judge. Your dog should sit quickly and not bump, lag or pull on the leash during this exercise. This novice exercise is always done on leash.

After the Figure 8, the judge will have you give your leash to a steward and give you the command to stand your dog for exam and leave when you are ready. You will stand your dog and give the command to "Stay." Walk forward approximately six feet, turn and face your dog. The judge will then approach and examine the dog. After the judge examines the dog he will order you to go back to your dog. You will walk back around behind your dog and up into Heel position and the judge will order, "Exercise finished." The principal point of this exercise is for the dog to not move or show fear or shyness of the judge while being examined. When the judge says, "Exercise finished," you praise your dog and move to the start position for the Heel Off Leash.

This is done the same as the Heel On Leash. Your dog should hold heel position at all times. When done well this is one of the most impressive parts of obedience.

The judge will tell you to set your dog up for the recall. You will have your dog in heel position and in a straight sit. The principal point of this exercise is that the dog remains in position where you have left it, and comes at a brisk pace promptly when you call him or signal him to "Come," and stops and sits in front of you, without touching and bumping you. The judge will say, "Leave your dog for the recall." You will give the command to stay, and leave on your right foot, go to the other end of the ring, turn and face your dog. Keep your hands at your sides. The judge will tell you to call your dog. You may say, "Come" or "George, come" and the dog should come to the front of you and sit in a straight sit. The judge orders, "Finish." Tell your dog to "Heel" and the dog should go around behind you or just swing into heel position at your left side and sit straight. The judge will then stay "Exercise finished." Praise the dog. The steward will then hand you back your leash and you will leave the ring until they call you back to do the long sits and downs.

Sits and Downs are done in groups of not more than 12. Exhibitors are brought into the ring in catalog order, so enter the ring and go to the end of the ring as instructed by the judge. Face the judge with your dog in Sit position, take off your leash and clip it to your armband and place it behind your dog with the number up so that the judge can see it. The judge will ask if everyone is ready. Tell your dog to sit, then the judge will say leave your dogs. Tell your dog to "Stay," step away on your right foot, cross your arms and walk to the other side of the ring, turn and face your dog. The principal point of this is that the dog remains in the Sit or Down position, whichever is required by the particular exercise. In Novice, the dog must sit for 1 minute and remain in the down position for 3 minutes. This seems to be a long time, and I can remember many times counting the seconds praying that George would not move. When the judge orders, "Back to your dogs," return around behind your dog, to the Heel position. Then, the judge will say, "Exercise Finished,." Carefully tell your dog "good dog" without letting him out of the sit. The judge will then ask if everyone is ready and then order you to "Down" your dogs. You will again give the command to "Down", and step away from your dog on your right foot, go to the far end of the ring and turn and face your dog. When you return again to heel position, the judge will say "Exercise finished," and, "Praise your dog." Reach back for your leash at that time, put your lead on and leave the ring. After the completion of the down, the judge will advise each exhibitor whether they have qualified. You must have earned a score of 170 points or more and received more than half the points available for each exercise.
Next time I will go into a few of the helpful hints and training tips I have gotten from other exhibitors and my instructors. Good luck and keep on training.