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International Evaluation Criteria of the Trial Rules by Raino 3

  Obedience The obedience phase is, in my opinion, the prime discipline in dog training. In this phase especially, the human/dog relationship becomes very obvious. Concentration is very important in this phase (handler to dog and vice versa). Harmony and charisma are very obvious with high levels of concentration. In order to be able to ideally demonstrate this, one needs a dog with high drives, together with solid nerves and a high load threshold. The external requirements are clearly described in the trial regulations. Included are a sufficiently large field, a jump, a scaling wall, a starter pistol, as well as dumbbells according to the trial regulations. The firing sequence of the shots is clearly described in the long down under distraction and the free heeling exercises. A certain degree of subjectivity is, of course, not to be overlooked in the other points following. Individual definitions such as “fast” always needs to be considered subjectively. What is fast for one, is not nearly fast enough for another! Most importantly, however, is to summarize each exercise into one evaluation. That is to say: V (excellent), SG (very good), G (good), B (satisfactory), M (unsatisfactory), U (insufficient). While it's easy to verbalize these evaluations, understanding them is another story. When seen as percentages, it is quite simple: V = 96 – 100%, SG 90 – 95%, g 80 – 89%, B 70 – 79%, M 36 – 69%, U 0 – 35%. For spectators and most dog handlers, it's difficult to see every little thing in every exercise. It is the job of the performance judge to critique an exercise chronologically, using understandable, repetitive words. Sample evaluation: Down with Recall: Basic heel position (1), as well as the build-up stage (2) is shown without fault. After the command to down (3), the dog downs quickly and confidently. Upon recall, the dog comes in very quickly and happily to his handler (4) sits straight in front (5), and after the command comes confidently and straight into the final heel position to finish (6). Evaluation V – 100% In all these partial phases of the exercise, minor or major variations can result. The most important part of any exercise is the component for which it is named. For example, in the down with recall, the down and the recall are the most important components. In the following points I have attempted to detail the individual trial phases and to present these separately. There are many factors that can affect obedience scores. For example, long traveling time, strange field, unfamiliar equipment or poor weather conditions can cause trouble for the handler and the dog. The handler needs to control his/her nervousness, because this can often lead to errors. What everybody wants to see in obedience is: alertness, correctness, consistent drives, speed, powerful jumps, quick response to verbal commands, and a certain charisma. Now to the individual exercises: Each exercise begins with the basic heel position. The basic heel position is to be shown in a normal sportsmanlike manner, waiting for the judge to give the signal to continue. Of particular importance is the basic heel position before the long down, because in this basic heel position, the dog gathers all his concentration to stay down. The build up phase for nearly all exercises starts from a straight and confident basic heel position. Remember that the build up phase is to be at least 10 paces and not more than 15 paces, so that the dog heels straight and with confidence, and reacts to the upcoming verbal command quickly and confidently. The build up phase is key to the completion of the actual exercise. We need to watch that the dog develops a high level of concentration in this phase, so that the reaction to the verbal command will be quick. It is important that after a verbal command, the handler continues for a minimum of 30 paces. Back to the evaluation criteria: It is a fact that for certain incorrect behaviors, mandatory points are to be deducted. These are prescribed in the trial regulations; for example, an incorrect exercise (sit/down, dropping the dumbbell, etc.). The judge can stop an exercise because of incorrect behavior. These could include leaving the field and not returning after the third command, gun shyness or unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of the handler. In order to attain high scores, let me again repeat the requirements: Alertness, correctness, consistent drives, speed, strong jumps, quick reaction to verbal commands, and a certain charisma! Heeling exercises are described as follows: Straight basic heel position, happy, alert, close heeling, always with the shoulder blade even with the knee. Quick, independent and straight sits for the halt. The same holds true for heeling through the group. Remember, it is important that the handler performs the required number of paces, as well as showing confident about turns, and left and right turns. During the technical exercises we expect an ideal picture. Characteristics such as quick reaction to the verbal command; quick sits and staying calmly in the sit position; quick down and staying down calmly; coming in quickly and sitting close in front; quick confident and calm stands; coming in quickly and sitting close in front; and the appropriate finishes. All these partial exercises, of course, require the appropriate pauses (approx. 3 secs.) as well as the indication of the judge to continue. During the retrieving exercises, the requirement is, ideally, an overall quick and direct retrieving exercise with quick pick-up and firm calm grip of the dumbbell. Strong jumps should be shown! To conclude, the ‘Voraus’ [send-out] with the down. Here, in addition to the basic heel position and the build up phase, the dog must run out quickly and directly in the indicated direction, and, on command, go down quickly, directly and calmly. The down position is to be at the least 8 paces before the end of the field. These are all requirements for an ideal score, and deviations will be – as mentioned previously – deducted accordingly. We should remember one thing: In order to award a “V” [excellent] score in obedience, a high degree of concentration and correctness together with fast working speed - a result of enthusiasm and willingness - is required. We never evaluate training methods, always only the results - the resulting performance. Generally speaking, of all the disciplines, obedience has the highest value, as it is required as a foundation of performance in all three phases. Raino Fluegge GSSCC/ SV Judge permission recieved 9/17/02 Deja Vu du Dantero - SchBH


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