Ridgebacks, being versatile
hounds, are eligible for several AKC performance
events, including obedience, lure coursing, agility,
tracking and, unofficially, herding instinct tests.
(The RRCUS recognizes the HIC title for it's
versatility title.) So how does a person go about
Who can participate? While age requirements vary
with the event, all dogs must be at least six months
old to participate in any AKC-licensed event. Any
dog that is registered with the AKC or has an AKC
Indefinite Listing Privilege ("ILP number") may be
entered, including those that are spayed and
neutered. Anyone can handle their own dog in these
The easiest way to find out when and where any AKC
event is being held is to subscribe to the AKC
Gazette, a monthly magazine. The magazine is
accompanied by another publication, Events, which is
a comprehensive listing of all AKC-sanctioned
trials. Or, check the on-line "Events Calendar" on
AKC’s website under “Dogs in Competition.” Many of
the AKC-licensed shows throughout the country have
added one or more of these events as special
attractions or exhibitions and all these activities
make for an interesting family outing.
Obedience trials test a dog's ability to perform a
prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored.
In each exercise, you and your dog must score more
than 50% of the possible points (ranging from 20-40)
and get a total score of a least 170 out of a
possible 200. Each time your dog gets that magical
170 qualifying score, we say he's gotten a "leg"
toward his title. Three legs and your dog has become
an obedience titled dog! There are three levels at
which your dog can earn a title and each is more
difficult than the one before it. In addition, each
level has an "A" and "B" division. Basically, "A" is
for beginners whose dogs have never received a
title, while "B" classes are for more experienced
NOVICE: The first level requires your dog to
demonstrate the skills required of a good canine
companion. The exercises are to heel both on and off
leash at different speeds, come when called, stay
(still and quiet) with a group of other dogs and
allow a standing physical exam from the judge. The
title awarded your dog for getting three legs in the
Novice class is that of Companion Dog, or "CD,"
after his registered name.
OPEN: In this class the dog must do many of the same
Novice exercises but all are off-leash. In addition,
there are jumping and retrieving tasks and the group
"stays" are for a longer period with the handler out
of sight. The title earned for this class is called
Companion Dog Excellent, or "CDX."
UTILITY: The "creme de la creme" of the obedience
world go on to earn this title. In addition to more
difficult exercises, like the directed retrieve and
jumping, the dog must do scent discrimination tasks.
The title earned in this class is called Utility
Dog, or "UD."
OTCH and UDX: The best of the best can go on for
more titles. Utility Dogs that continue to compete
and earn legs at 10 shows become Utility Dog
Excellence ("UDX"). Utility Dogs that are ranked
first or second in Open B or Utility classes can
earn points toward a title called the Obedience
Trial Champion, or "OTCH."
Ever watched a show or movie where the bloodhounds
track the criminals through the swamp? Well, AKC
Tracking Trials allow dogs to demonstrate their
natural ability to recognize and follow human scent.
Unlike Obedience Trials which require three legs,
Tracking titles can be completed with only one
track. A dog is required to follow a human scent
that can be from 30 minutes to two hours old over
440-500 yards with turns.
Tracking also has several levels, including Tracking
Dog Excellent ("TDX") and Variable Surface Tracking
GETTING STARTED IN OBEDIENCE OR TRACKING
If all this sounds like fun (and it is!) then here
are some ideas and resources:
1. Don't wait! Puppy kindergarten classes are
designed for two to five-month old puppies and
really focus on the very basics of training. Many
basic training classes start puppies at five to six
months of age. Just like kids, puppies pick up
lessons very quickly when learning is made into a
2. Local dog clubs may hold classes that are taught
by people knowledgeable in the sport and can help
you train for these exercises. There are five kinds
of dog clubs to look for:
• Obedience clubs;
• Tracking clubs;
• All-Breed clubs;
• Group clubs (devoted to a variety groups, like
Hounds or Toys); and
• Local Specialty clubs (those devoted to one
3. There may be either one, several or all of these
types of clubs in your area that either hold classes
and/or publish newsletters with articles. Getting
involved with a club can teach you many more things
about your dog that can be helpful. You can access
the AKC's web site for the geographical listings of
clubs across the U.S.
4. The AKC will supply you with information on all
of these events. To request this information, access
their web site or write and ask for free rules and
regulations on your favorite event.
5. Local libraries, book stores or pet supply stores
will usually carry several books on training your
dog. You'll find that every author has his or her
own method -- no one has a patent on the right
method! It's best to explore many methods and find
what works best for you and your dog.
6. Once you're started, test your budding skill at
matches. These are informal, inexpensive practice
shows put on by dog clubs or groups. While you won't
earn legs toward your title, you will get a taste of
doing it "for real."
7. Attend some trials to observe and mingle. You’ll
see skilled dogs and handlers (and many who need to
work some more!). You can meet people who have the
same interests as you and can give you some tips or
direct you to other classes and events in your area.
Agility is one of the newest AKC events and it is
open to every breed. Dogs must be at least one year
old to participate. In an agility trial a dog
demonstrates its ability to negotiate a complex
course which may include a walk over a bridge,
jumping through objects, going through tunnels and
pausing on command. There are different height
categories so each dog is tested fairly on the
course. Agility is exciting for the dogs, handlers
and spectators. There are sanctioned agility clubs
and there are also many breed and obedience clubs
that offer agility competitions. Many of these clubs
also offer classes and less formal matches for
beginners. You can read all about agility rules and
regulations on AKC’s web site.
Lure coursing trials consist of dogs following a
lure around a course on an open field. (The lure is
generally a while plastic bag, meant to simulate a
rabbit.) Coursing dogs are scored on speed,
enthusiasm, agility, endurance and their ability to
follow the lure. There are other sighthound breeds
besides Ridgebacks that can course at the same
Training for coursing trials is a great way to keep
your dog physically and mentally fit. A dog must be
a least one year old to run at an AKC event. Dogs
with breed disqualifications are not eligible, which
means Ridgebacks without ridges cannot participate.
Many clubs offer non-competitive lure coursing
clinics for those new to the event. Check AKC's list
of geographical clubs for the club nearest you or
look for lure coursing tests at AKC's web site.
The American Sighthound Field Association ("ASFA")
also has numerous lure coursing events around the
country and you can check their events on-line.
Got more questions? Read Bonnie Dalzell's unofficial
Lure Coursing Home Page.
Although not eligible for an AKC title in herding,
Ridgebacks can participate when local groups hold
herding clinics and offered a certificate from their
local club to any breed that passes the instinct
test. The best part about this test is your
Ridgeback INSTINCTIVELY KNOWS WHAT TO DO! It's the
most AMAZING thing you'll ever experience! Check and
find a local herding club or look for herding tests
in the Gazette or on-line at the AKC's web site.
Last, get in touch with some herding club members so
that they can tell you when the events will be held.