Companion Dog Certification

By Keagen Grace
The American Kennel Club's "Companion Dog" is a first-tier obedience title that certifies that your dog is able to perform obedience tasks that ensure she functions as a good companion. Once open only to purebred, AKC-registered dogs, obedience competitions are now open to all dogs, regardless of breed. Your dog must still be registered with the AKC and up to date on all vaccinations. Irregardless of breed, every dog can be trained to complete the tasks to earn the Companion Dog title. Dogs who win this title get to place the designation "CD" at the end of their name.


The very first AKC obedience regulations were created and put into practice in 1936. While the sport of competitive obedience has greatly changed, the principles upon which it was founded remain true. Regulations were very loosely interpreted at the start of obedience, and have since become quite regimented.


The Companion Dog title serves two purposes. It certifies your dog as being a well-taught companion, and marks him as obedient and public-safe. It also is the first tier of AKC obedience. In order to progress to higher levels of obedience, your dog must earn his Companion Dog.


Training your dog for a Companion Dog trial is much like any other obedience training. It takes time, patience, dedication and persistence. Keep your dog happy and motivated, and his scores will remain high. A bored dog performs poorly. Learn the AKC obedience regulations to help you fine-tune your performance.


In order to earn a CD title, your dog must score at least 170 points out of a possible 200. In addition, your dog must do this three times under three different judges. Each time your dog earns at least 170 points, she completes a "leg" of her title. Every dog and handler team begin the trial with 200 points, then points are deducted for errors by you or your dog.


Your dog must complete six exercises during each leg of the Companion Dog certification process. Every trial begins with heeling on leash. The judges aren't looking for robotic, precise, military movement; they're looking for fluid, graceful, nonverbal communication between you and your canine partner.

Next, your dog must stand for an examination. This proves that he can be easily and safely examined by a veterinarian. Progressing to off-leash heeling, the judges look for careful positioning of you and your dog. Your dog's head and neck ought to be aligned with your left leg, and his attention should be on you at all times.

Then the recall begins. You command the dog to sit and stay. You then walk across the ring and turn to face your partner. You call him to you, and he must instantly respond. He must trot across the ring and sit directly in front of you, close enough to touch. Upon command, he must return to the heel position. Finally, during the long stay exercises, your dog must sit and stay for one minute, and down/stay for three.
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