Obedience titles: Utility dog; utility dog excellent

Steps three and four: Utility Dog, then Excellent

Once a dog has earned a CD, and a CDX, he is eligible to enter Utility Class to work towards the UD (Utility Dog) title. The UD takes jumping, retrieving, and concentrating to the highest level of training. There are no longer group sits and downs, but the individual exercises contain over 52 ways to fail. The exercises consist of a complex series of signal exercises, scent discrimination, directed retrieve, a moving stand, and directed jumping. The dog must, again, pass all exercises with a score of 170 or above, at three shows, under three different judges.

As in the open class, the dog and handler enter the ring with no leash. Once the judging begins, the handler cannot touch the dog to guide it into position.

The first exercise is the signal exercise. Dog and handler do a complex heeling pattern with halts, left and right turns, fast and slow. Then the judge instructs the handler to “stand your dog,” and to “leave your dog.” The handler signals the dog to “stay” and walks to the opposite side of the ring. The judge then signals the handler to proceed with the exercise, and the handler signals his dog to lie down, sit, come, then finish. The handler may not speak or make any noise; only hand signals are permitted. Any audible noise from the handler, as well as failure to respond as directed, may constitute a zero or failure.

The second and third utility exercises are scent discriminations. The handler must provide two numbered sets of articles, five leather, and five metal. These may be objects of everyday use. While most serious competitors use professionally made dumbbell-type articles, I have seen baby shoes, door knobs, and tin cans used in the ring.

The handler is given one leather and one metal article, selected by the judge. The remaining eight articles are rubbed by the ring steward, and arranged half way out in the ring in a circle. The handler and dog may watch the articles being placed, then they must turn and face the opposite direction. The handler chooses either the leather or metal article and rubs it to place his scent on it. The judge then takes the article and mixes it among the eight articles already placed on the floor.

On the command “Send your dog,” handler and dog pivot to face the scattering of articles. On command, the dog must go to the articles, and retrieve the one scented by his handler. Next, the entire routine is repeated, this time using the article not scented and retrieved the first time. The dog will not fail as long as it keeps working. After the handler takes the retrieved article from the dog, the dog does a finish.

The fourth exercise is a directed retrieve. With the dog at heel, the handler positions himself between the two jumps, in the center of the ring, facing away from the ring side where the articles are to be placed. A steward places three white garden gloves, provided by the handler, two in the corners and one directly behind the handler. The judge tells the handler to command the dog to retrieve one of the gloves. Handler and dog pivot to face the designated glove, and by command and signal, the dog must go directly to that glove, retrieve and bring it to the handler. After the handler takes the glove, he commands the dog to return to heel position.

Next comes the “moving stand.” The judge instructs the dog and handler to begin heeling, then, after they walk about 10 feet, gives the command “Stand your dog.” Without hesitation in step, handler tells the dog to stand and stay and continues walking until he gets about six feet beyond the dog. The handler then turns and faces the dog and the judge does a thorough examination of the dog. When the exam is finished, the judge commands “Call your dog to heel.” The handler calls the dog; the dog must go directly to heel without sitting in front as novice and open class recalls.

The final exercise is “directed jumping.” The ring is set up with a high jump on one side, and a black and white bar jump on the opposite side. Usually the jumps are set at the dog’s shoulder height. On the judge’s command, the handler sends the dog out between the jumps to a point at least 10 feet beyond the jumps. The handler then tells the dog to sit, preferably midway between the jumps. The judge tells the handler to send the dog over one of the jumps. The dog goes to the side, takes the jump, sits in front of the handler, then does a finish. Next, the handler must send the dog out again, and the dog must again sit 10 feet beyond the jumps. The judge then tells the handler to send the dog over the other jump.

Statistically, for every 1000 dogs that begin competing for a CD, five will earn a UD Personally, I am very proud to have earned the UD title with two of my Newfoundlands, Mt. Pleasant’s Refraf Zealot, UD, WD, Can. CD, and Ch. Spillway’s Refraf Argonaut, UD, DD. Our current Newf, U-CDX Sandcastle’s Refraf Ruf-n-Redi, CDX, WD has one leg, the first of the three qualifiers, toward his UD.

To earn the next highest title of Utility Dog Excellent (UDX), the dog must have a UD, but does not really have to learn any new tricks. This title requires that the dog qualify (get a score of 170 or higher) in Open B AND Utility B at the same show and repeat this feat 10 times!

Ozzie Foreman

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