For those exhibitors not wishing to participate in conformation shows, or who have neutered or spayed dogs, there are a number of alternative activities to participate in and to enjoy the unique satisfaction of training one’s dog. Some popular performance events are obedience, rally obedience, agility, and tracking.
English Cocker Spaniel


The intent of obedience, as defined by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), is “to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs”. In Canada, obedience dogs compete in progressively more challenging tests and titles are awarded after the completion of three passing scores, awarded by at least two different judges.

Titles awarded in obedience are PCD (Pre Companion Dog), CD (Companion Dog), CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) and the most difficult of all titles UD (Utility Dog). Once a dog has attained it’s CD, CDX and UD, it is designated an Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh.), a title to be very proud of. For the true competitor, there are higher levels of the OTCh available.

Those interested in obedience would be well advised to obtain a copy of the CKC rule book, which describes the eligibility for each title and the specific exercises for each title. Although it is possible to train one’s dog by yourself, inexperienced trainers would benefit from attending obedience classes, run by knowledgeable instructors.


Rally is a fairly new level of competition in the last few years. The CKC states “The chief objective of rally is to provide a fast-moving and motivational activity that demonstrates a handler and dog’s competency in basic obedience exercises without requiring exact precision for success. Dogs in rally events should demonstrate willingness and enjoyment.”

Rally exhibitors are allowed to talk to their dogs in the ring, encourage them with praise and petting. Long time obedience exhibitors will recognize some of the rally exercises as traditional “doodling” obedience exercises. Although there are defined requirements for each rally title, rally is generally more relaxed than traditional obedience. Rally is an ideal way to introduce the inexperienced dog to obedience or to give one’s obedience dog a bit of break in routine.

Titles in rally are RN (Rally Novice), RA (Rally Advanced), RE (Rally Excellent) and RAE (Rally Advanced Excellent).


Agility originated in the United Kingdom in the 1970’s and made its way to Canada in the 1980’s. In agility, the handler directs the dog through an obstacle course, that simultaneously demands both precision and speed. Canine competitors are divided according to height, experience level and age (i.e., veteran). It is fast paced, exciting sport, that demands teamwork from both handler and dog.

Course design is a key aspect of agility and the course designer will design the course according to the level of a specific class. English Cocker SpanielVarious courses will utilize different obstacles.

The handler will receive the course map before the competition and have an opportunity to walk through the course, planning their strategy. Scoring of the run is based on the number of faults incurred, as well as the time required to run the course.

In Canada, the prospective competitor may decide to compete under Agility Association of Canada (AAC) or Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) rules. There are an abundance of titles offered by both associations. Each association will define specific faults and criteria for their various classes, as well as title requirements.

 


 

Tracking is a sport that has been available for a number of years. In tracking, the dog must follow a predefined scent (laid by the tracklayer) and locate specific article (s) left by the tracklayer.

In tracking, it is the dog who knows where the track is, not the handler. In a test, it is the dog who is in charge, not the handler.

Key skills any successful handler must possess are patience and how to read the dog’s body language, when the dog is on or off the track. English Cocker Spaniel

There are no class placements awarded in a tracking tests, one either passes or fails and only one pass is required for completion of each title.

In Canada, the following tracking titles are awarded TD (Tracking Dog), TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent), UTD (Urban Tracking Dog) and UTDX (Urban Tracking Dog Excellent). Both the TDX and UTDX demand rigor in training for the aged tracks in each test and the mental and physical stamina required for the dog to work of the length of the track.

Once a dog has completed its TD, TDX, UTD and UTDX, it is awarded the title of TCh., (Tracking Champion) by the CKC, a worthy accomplishment.


Performance events offer many opportunities to train and compete with one’s dog. When one is selecting a puppy for prospective performance competition, one should insist upon health, proper structure and proper movement. The demands of heavy obedience competition at the Open and Utility levels, the jumping and running demands of Agility and the stamina demands of advanced Tracking demand that not only our dogs be fit, but that they be able to move properly and effortlessly.

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