Random Little Tidbits

By John Cox
AKC Obedience Judge



John's first Saint Bernard came to live with him in 1969. This five-week-old puppy went on to become the breed’s most-titled (at the time) with American and Canadian Champion titles and American and Canadian Utility Dog (UD) obedience titles. Since Nicklus, John has lived with eight other Saints which have earned additional championships and UDTs & Working Dog titles. John is also known for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi that earned a Tracking Dog (TD) title. 

In 1998 Johnstarted over with another Saint Bernard puppy imported from Belgium.  This new best friend surpassed John's other dog's record as most-titled Saint Bernard, with 39 titles to his name including nine Master titles in Agility, a UDXTD in Obedience and Tracking, plus a VCD2 and breed championship.

John started judging AKC obedience in 1978 and thoroughly enjoys this aspect of the sport.  2018 will be John's 40th year judging. He recently was acquired by the AKC to help support the companion events department.  John is well-known for his Dog Talk articles published below and in the Front & Finish magazine.  Dog Talk covers a large number of aspects involved in the sport including handling and judging tips.

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  • Thursday, February 01, 2018 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written by John Cox

    This exercise will be added to the Preferred Novice, Brace, Veterans and Team classes.

    The Novice Group exercises of the 1-minute Long Sit and 3-minute Long Down are now a thing of our past. Just as the old Utility Group Stand was replaced in 1988 with the Moving Stand and Examination, the old Novice Group exercises have been replaced with two new Novice exercises (and challenges) for the Regular Novice (A & B) exhibitors, plus the new exercise (below) will also be added to the Preferred Novice class. The other Novice replacement exercise is the Group Sit & Down Stay (a new single exercise with two parts).

    See Tidbit #37 for those details. http://clubs.akc.org/saints/Archives/Random%20Little%20Tidbits%2037.pdf

    Section 3. Novice Exercises and Scores. The exercises and maximum scores in the Novice classes:

    Maximum Total Score 2002 points
    The maximum judging rate is nine (9) dogs per hour.

    Chapter 3, Section 12. Sit Stay – Get your Leash:The principal feature of this exercise is that the dog remains in the sit position.

    Judge’s Orders:The orders are: “Sit your dog,” “Leave your dog to get your leash,” and “Back to your dog.”

    Exercise Description: The handler will stand with the dog sitting in heel position in a place designated by the judge. The judge will ask

    “Are you ready?” before giving the first order. On the judge’s order the handler may command and/or signal the dog to sit without touching either the dog or the dog’s collar. On further order to “Leave your dog to get your leash,” the handler may give a command and/or signal to stay and will walk forward immediately to the place designated by the judge for the leash, pick up the leash, turn, and face the dog. The judge will give the order “Back to your dog.” The handler must return directly, walking around and in back of the dog to heel position. The dog must not move from the sitting position until after the judge has said “Exercise finished.” The judge will tell the handler “Clip your leash to the collar and maintain control of your dog.” The handler is required to exit the ring with the dog under control and without jumping, pulling or tugging on the leash.

    Judging Procedures:The judge will instruct the steward to place the leash at the designated location after the Heel on Leash and Figure

    Eight exercise. The handler and dog will be positioned at least 30 feet from and facing the direction of the gate entrance. The judge must be in position to watch the dog and handler throughout the exercise including exiting the ring.

    Chapter 3, Section 13. Sit Stay – Get your Leash, Scoring:

    A non-qualifying score (NQ) is required for the following: The dog moving a substantial distance away from the place where it was left any time during the exercise, not remaining in the sit position until the handler has returned to heel position, and repeatedly barking or whining.

    Scoring of the exercisefor such things as rough treatment of a dog by its handler or resistance by a dog to its handler’s attempts to make it sit starts with the first order, “Sit your dog.” These will be penalized substantially and in extreme cases the dog may be released.

    Substantial deductions will be made for a dog that moves even a short distance from where it was left, that barks or whines only once or twice, or that changes from the sit position after the handler has returned to the heel position and before the judge has said, “Exercisefinished.” A substantial deduction, under Miscellaneous Penalties, must be made for a dog that does not remain under control whileleaving the ring.

    This = 3 or more points off your score….OR….leave the ring like this and save points!

    * Note in the Scoring, all penalties listed in this exercise are Substantial which is defined as 3 or more points. Keep in mind, there may also be other penalties (Chapter 2, Section 24) which are not listed. For example, the handler who is not in the proper heel position after returning to their dog.

    As with any exercise, it is always best to know the principal parts and non-principal parts. The principal feature of an exercise must be met to earn a qualifying score in that exercise.

    Principal features vs. non-principal parts of this exercise:This exercise is another example of scoring starting with a non-principal feature to a principal feature and then back to a non-principal feature.

    * After the Judge asks “Are you ready?” the Judge’s first order is “Sit your dog.” The non-principal scoring of this exercise is at the beginning of the exercise for such things as rough treatment of a dog by its handler or resistance by a dog to its handler’s attempts to make it sit, which starts with the first order.

    * The principal feature starts with the Judge’s second order, “Leave your dog to get your leash.” This feature continues until the handler has returned to heel position.

    * The non-principal feature and scoring takes hold once again for the short time in which the handler is standing in heel position until the Judge orders “Exercise finished.”

    For more information on the scoring and how to save points click on this link: http://clubs.akc.org/saints/Archives/novice_articles.pdf

    To view more articles please visit our Member’s Page

  • Monday, January 01, 2018 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Written by John Cox

    The letter comes in from the American Kennel Club approving you as a new Obedience and/or Rally Judge. Congratulations! You have met all the qualifications, read the Obedience/Rally Regulations, taken the test(s), had a ringside interview, and now all you are waiting for that first invitation to come your way. Have you given any thought to how you will respond and what questions to ask when that phone call or email happens? OMG, this is not covered in the Regulations, BUT there are some suggestions for guidance in the Obedience Guidelines.

    Okay, let’s take a look at the first step; as quoted from the Guidelines:


    Written Invitations Only. Require all clubs to send you written invitations for assignments. Their requests should clearly specify the class(es) you are being asked to judge. Promptly acknowledge all invitations, again in writing, and keep accurate records of assignments you accept.

    Avoid Conflicts. It’s your responsibility to acknowledge judging invitations promptly. Careful record keeping and prompt acceptance (or refusal) of invitations helps eliminate unnecessary confusion and conflicts for both judges and trial giving clubs.

    Assignment Limitations. A judge will not be approved to judge the same regular, preferred, or optional titling class at all-breed events within 30 days and 100 straight line miles of each other with the following exceptions:

    • A judge may accept assignments to judge the same classes for two obedience trials that fall on the same day at the same site.
    • A judge may accept assignments to judge the same classes at two obedience trials over the course of a cluster of no more than five (5) consecutive days at the same site or within a local geographical area as determined by the AKC.
    • A judge may accept an assignment within 30 days and 100 straight line miles of another assignment only on an emergency basis. An emergency basis is defined as an advertised judge notifying a club within 72 hours of an approved trial that they cannot fulfill their assignment.

    There are no such restrictions on non-regular classes. Assignments to judge the same class or classes at two different breed specialty or group obedience trials are not considered to be a conflict. Breed specialty obedience assignments or group shows are not in conflict with an assignment to judge the same class(es) at an all-breed obedience trial.

    Travel Between Assignments. Judges cannot do their best work if they are tired from travel. They should not accept assignments on succeeding days where more than a few hours’ travel by ground transportation is involved.

    Judges should understand that upon acceptance of an invitation, they are committing themselves to the trial-giving club for the entire day. Their travel plans should not be predicated on arriving late or on leaving early to get transportation home or to another show. Judges should not ask clubs or superintendents to arrange judging programs to accommodate their travel plans. Judges should not travel to or from trials or stay with anyone who is likely to be exhibiting or handling under them.

    Expenses. When you accept an invitation, clearly inform club officials what your expenses and fee, if any, will be, so they will not be surprised by a larger than anticipated bill on the day of the trial. This is a contract between you and the club. The more specific details you and the club include in the contract, the less the potential for misunderstanding. This is an important consideration and a courtesy to clubs. If you sign a contract provided by the club, you and the club are responsible for abiding by its conditions.

    Now let’s take a look at the second step:…

    The Guidelines do help in getting one started but there is a lot more to know, most of which is learned through the schools of experience and hard knocks. Where are these schools? I queried obedience judges on our judge’s email list on helpful hints to be passed along to a new judge, what items to keep in mind and questions to ask. Another thing to keep in mind is the one doing the inviting may also be new at their job. To start with, make a list and have it by the phone(s) (or computer), which covers the topics needed to be discussed so you won’t forget or leave out an important topic. Such items as:

    On to a third step and input from Judges who responded:

    I. Geography

    There are regional differences in our sport so this may play a role in one’s responses, depending where one lives when contacted. Consider that location. Are there a plethora of shows and the opportunity to judge is abundant in your areas of the country, or are you “out in the sticks” with shows far and few? The answer may factor into judging fees (or not) and travel expenses to be charged, especially when starting out with only a Novice provisional approval.

    II. Fee Responses From Judges For Ideas

    1. When I first became a Novice Judge, I only charged for expenses (travel/tolls). I was also an approved rally judge at the time, so if I was given a Novice and/or Beginner Novice judging assignment along with Rally, I would also not charge for Rally. As I progressed through the levels, I would only charge if asked to judge a level where I was fully approved, not provisional.

    2. If a club is small or generally has very limited entries (say a specialty club), I will work with them and not charge a flat fee. I may instead tell them that I will charge a fee per entry (say $3.00 per dog).

    3. Daily fee (with surcharge if "2 trials in 1 day"), lodging, meals during the weekend and in route if driving, IRS mileage rates at time of travel round trip, I give the Google Maps distance. If plane travel: IRS mileage to/from airport, parking per day, Airfare and, if I remember, I ask whether the club will reimburse plane tickets in advance of the trial. Tolls, parking, etc., transport to/from airport to hotel, if any.

    4. I state my basic rate. If I decide to give a club a break, or a donation, etc. it's up to me.

    5. I have a fee to judge one type of competition one time a day. If I am to judge the same type of competition (two trials in a day) or two kinds of competition (obedience and rally) I add $25.00 to cover the extra preparation costs. I give single breed specialties a small discount.

    6. I would first ask a judge if they were willing to give up part of their weekend assignment. Perhaps give up Novice B and Beginner Novice or Open A and Preferred Open, for example. They almost always said yes. They were helping out a new judge and reducing their work load; nothing to lose really. Once I received the judge's okay I would contact the club, explain that this judge was willing to give up said classes and that I was willing to take those classes at no expense to the club. The club also had nothing to lose and was helping a new judge as well. This method worked great and I really flew from Novice through Utility. In any event, this proactive approach can literally take years off the process.

    7. When I was in Novice, I did not charge a fee at all unless I was also doing Rally (for which I was fully approved). I did take expenses in terms of mileage and a hotel if needed. When I got to Open, I started to charge a modest fee and the customary expenses. I don't charge for any of the paperwork since I consider it to be a part of my fee.

    8. Don’t feel guilty for charging a fee, ever. We have judges who cannot charge a fee (delegates), and there are a few judges who don't charge a fee, either because they don't need the money or they feel it's their way to give something back to the sport. But ultimately judging is a business, and it is one that carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. We go through a lengthy process in order to apply for each level, and a lot of work to be approved at each level.

    9. If I'm a member of a club, no fee is charged, just out-of-pocket expenses. But that's up to the individual judge, unless the club has adopted a policy prohibiting members charging a fee. In this instance, the judge is hired in their professional capacity and not being paid to do club work.

    10. Each judge has to decide for themselves if they are willing to accept these offers. Typically expenses include travel to and from the event, food and lodging. As for an invoice, judges make up their own as a word document.

    III. Contract Responses From Judges

    1. Get a SIGNED, PAPER contract (or a contract to print, sign, scan and return.) I am dealing with one club right now that doesn't seem to "get it." I still don't have a contract though I sent those two signed copies of a paper contract, and a SASE...still nothing.

    2. I confirm the date carefully and check carefully for conflicts. I confirm the assignment as it directs the fee.

    3. Fee per day, expenses, number of nights necessary in a hotel. Check carefully that assignments don't conflict. SAVE all communications until the assignment is over. I had one local club book me, then another local club wanted to book me for different classes two weeks before the first assignment I had accepted. I contacted Club

    1. to make sure it was okay with them. Club 2 sent paperwork into the AKC first. Then Club 1 contacted me to say AKC wouldn't approve me as there was a conflict. When I checked, I noticed that Club 1 had changed the classes I was to judge (different from contract, that's why there was a conflict.) I forwarded a copy of our email discussion noting classes for each club back to Club 1, which really kept me out of hot water. Yes, sometimes they change the classes from what was agreed upon in the contract. That I had checked with Club 1 before accepting Club 2. and kept that communication, saved me.

    4. Contracts are between the Judge and the club. AKC does not get involved in contract negotiations between judges and clubs.

    5. Dates, location, transportation requirements (since sometimes you fly and need to rent a car), fee, what expenses are covered and if they have limits, who is/are my contacts.

    IV. Helpful Hints Responses From Judges

    1. Check in your area to see if there is a Judges Group/Association. I know of two on the west coast. Judges meet and discuss all sorts of issues. At these meetings they may discuss new rules and regulations, putting on AKC judges seminar (due every 3 years), what one needs in their briefcase/judges bag, fees, how to organize your calendar for future trials. One group even has workshops where all levels of judges do a mock trial. One Utility, one Open, and four Novice judges and this opportunity was treated like a real trial with the measuring of rings, equipment, steward instructions, etc. There are two mentor judges observing each judge. One would score alongside and the other would view positioning and procedural views. Then each judge would listen to the critiques by those mentors. Most members helped in some way to make it successful!

    2. Don't take the last plane out the night before the show. If anything happens, you're sunk as far as trying to get there on time. Think of your health and sanity when trying to save the club a few dollars. I've always tried to fly out the last day of the show rather than charge for an extra night in a hotel, but am starting to re-think that, especially traveling coast to coast. It's also not good to drive home in the mountains at midnight or later after a long weekend of judging and travel.

    3. If time permits after apprenticing, a perspective judge might query the judge on how they handle such issues in dealing with clubs and contracts.

    4. Take your own “office” supplies. Not only will you know how to work them you can/ should be confident they will work.

    5. People who work for their local clubs have better opportunities for assignments; get in there and help with every job. Follow through on your commitments to your club(s). Choose good mentors who can help answer questions along the way. Don’t take yourself too seriously, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Make changes with your ring procedures if you find something isn’t working correctly. It is better to get in the habit of running your ring correctly to establish consistency. Have fun and your exhibitors will too!

    More Random Little Tidbit articles aimed to give guidance to the new Judge in regards to procedures

    1. Random Little Tidbit #17, Insights Into Judging Obedience.     http://clubs.akc.org/saints/Archives/Random%20Little%20Tidbits%2017.pdf

    2. Random Little Tidbit #18, Insights Into Judging Obedience.

    3. Random Little Tidbit #19, Insights Into Judging Obedience.

    To view more articles please visit our Member’s Page

  • Saturday, April 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    This may be old news for some, but in case you have not heard, the American Kennel Club has a judge’s blog for Obedience and Rally on the web (https://akcobedrlyjudges.wordpress.com/about/)! The blog is a very useful tool for covering specifics in the Regulations, plus helpful for keeping up on current topics. Case in point...


    • From the group exercises only if it has non-qualified in the individual exercises.
    • For misbehavior.
    • Dog that must be repositioned in the group exercise.


    • A dog must be released from the group exercises for displaying uncontrolled behavior, if it interferes with another dog or leaves the place where it was left during the first group exercise.
    • If the dog has been released write “NQ-R” (Non-Qualifying Released) then carry down an “NQ” in the “Total Score” box.
    • “NQ-R” does not require the judge to state a reason.


    • Dog relieves itself while in the ring for judging.
    • Handler carries or offers food in the ring.
    • Dog’s performance has not met the minimum requirements.
    • Training in the ring.


    • A dog that is out of control. 
    • Unable to Examine.
    • Any dog unfit to compete – sick.
    • Any dog lame, bandaged or stitched.
    • Bitch in season (attractive/disturbing).
    • A dog that appears dangerous to other dogs (including when lining up for Groups).
    • Handler who abuses their dog or who disciplines their dog in the ring.
    • Handler who willfully interferes with another competitor or competitor’s dog.

    Any dog that appears dangerous or aggressive MUST BE EXCUSED

    The Judging Procedure for the Judge’s Book for Excused dogs has not changed! All “Excused” dogs require the judge to state a reason in the judge’s book. DO NOT carry down an “NQ” to the Total Score box.

    If a dog is “out of control”, it is to be EXCUSED; versus a dog that “demonstrates uncontrolled behavior”, that dog must be Released from returning to the Group Exercises. Likewise, any“misbehavior” that is disruptive enough to remove the dog from the ring, as long as that dog isnot considered dangerous would be “released”.

    For additional information regarding marking the judge’s book please see page 119 of the Obedience Judge’s Guidelines.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Wednesday, March 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    This may be old news for some, but in case you have not heard, the American Kennel Club has a judge’s blog for Obedience and Rally on the web (link above under title)! The blog is a very useful tool for covering specifics in the Regulations, plus helpful for keeping up on current topics.

    Pamela Manathon, Director of Obedience, Rally & Tracking writes, We are replacing our traditional newsletters that were formatted in PDF documents and emailed out to each of you. Now we will be posting topics of interest by use of the AKC Obedience & Rally Judge’s blog. In doing so, we will be able to provide more timely write-ups and take full advantage of the blog’s Search and Category functions. This will make it easier for you to quickly research and access past information.

    You will be able to sign up to get a notice each time something new is posted. If you misplace the link you will be able to locate it on the AKC website under “Judges Newsletter” just as you do now.

    Our goal is to keep you as up to date as possible and give you the tools you need to be the best AKC Obedience & Rally Judge you can be. We can’t do it without you!

    Pamela Manaton, Director of Obedience, Rally & Tracking
         And the Field Reps…
               Diane Schultz, Mary Higdem and Sharon Hodgens-Wood

    One can follow the Blog via email, if you wish. Under the red “Search” box, there is another box to enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts. Plus, there is an Archive which has links to older Judge’s Newsletters of the past. I really like this blog and I think you will too!

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Wednesday, February 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    I have noticed a little bit of confusion with the Regulation change where a dog may now be carried while in the ring. Yes, there was a change on December 1, 2015 in this regard, but there are stipulations when it may or may not take place. So, if you choose to pick up your dog and/or carry it into or out of the ring make sure when it is acceptable, otherwise a substantial deduction may be in order. And remember a substantial deduction is three (3) OR more points; that deduction alone may cost a placement in the final score standings! Let’s take a quick review of the new Regulations and the Chapter and Sections which pertain to the change in verbiage.

    Chapter 2, Section 11, Notification and Announcement of Scores.

    “After all the scores are recorded for the class or division of the class, the judge will call the qualifying handlers back into the ring. For the awards ceremony, dogs may be picked up and carried into the ring if the handlerdesires.Before awarding the placements, the judge will inform the spectators of the maximum number of points required for a perfect score. After scores of each placement have been announced the judge will tell the other qualifying handlers their scores.”

    Chapter 2, Section 22, Praise.

    “Praise and petting are allowed between and after exercises, but points will be deducted from the total score for a dog that is not under reasonable control while being praised. There will be a substantial penalty forany dog that is picked up or carried at any time in the obedience ring while under judgment. Note: Adog is under judgment from the time it enters the ring until it leaves the ring.”

    Glossary of Terms, Substantial deduction3 points or more

    There you have it. When one is in the ring for the individual exercises (or Group exercises) they are being judged from the time they enter the ring until they pass through the exit on the way out. When one comes intothe ring for awards, they are not being judged---there lies the difference.

    For me, I will continue to walk with my Saint Bernards into the ring for awards. If I change my mind I will need to go to the gym first to make sure I can lift 180 pounds and hold it for at least 5+++ minutes.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Sunday, January 01, 2017 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

     I am no great trainer by the stretch of anyone’s imagination so let’s make that point crystal clear right now. One thing that I have learned from my trainer (and from judging) is to know when to step up to the plate and ACT, if necessary. It can be difficult but there will be times to just “suck it up buttercup” and put on the best Oscar performance for your dog when in the ring.

    Specifically, I am speaking when showing your dog in the performance rings. We spend great amounts of time bonding with and training our dogs (some more than others ) and then enter a show expecting things will go well. Or, we are at least of the opinion it is worth a try when mailing in the entry.

    Then comes the day of the show and it is Showtime! As we enter the ring with our teammate we are happy, full of expectations with set goals in our mind; furthermore, we are proud we have reached the point to enter the ring. Once in that ring, one needs to also keep in mind to apply the BEST acting skills you have until you step out of the ring. For the most part these skills will work well and come naturally as long as all is going according to plans. But if the dog makes an error (or the handler errors) that is when the BEST Oscar performance for the day needs to take place. Don’t let the dog see any disappointment in your attitude if it made an error.

    So the dog has made a mistake! Sometimes that is all it is, a mistake. Big deal. Remember it is a dog you are working with, and when were you perfect all the time during your learning processes? Other times an error is a result of Murphy’s Law, but most often it can be a result of a lack of proofing, showing too soon, not fully training for the task at hand, communication, or good preparation on your part. It’s a hard pill to swallow for some as it is always easier to blame someone or something.

    The moment the performance goes awry REMEMBER from that point on you are working on the next time you are to enter the ring. All is not lost for your remaining ring time. Keep the entire ring time positive for your dog. That may require digging deep into your mental toolbox and coming up with your best acting skills. Don’t dwell on the error(s) in the ring as your disappointment may be the memory the dog takes out of the ring. Entering the ring once again in the future could bring back that past memory of a negative experience. Then history repeats itself.

    As an obedience judge there are times I witness a handler showing disappointment to their dog when an error is made. This comes in the forms of spoken language, tone of voice and/or body English. The dog then shuts down and it goes downhill from there. The day then ends being a total loss with nothing gained. Success in training is not all about a green ribbon; it is also about building attitude, so use your ring time wisely and to your dog’s benefit, not detriment.

    Next time you are at a dog show sit outside the obedience or rally rings and watch the Oscar Performances going on. The contenders for the best actor/actress Oscars will be the handler(s) who always keeps the dog “up” and happy. They will be ones interacting with the dog between exercises keeping the dog engaged and focused. When and if there is a mistake, observe and learn the skills of the best performing actors. The Oscar winners will reap many rewards in future performances and those dogs will enjoy the sport the most, plus look forward to going into the ring once again to please their handler!

    There is a time and place for everything. Think of the dog show ring as a stage where you are the main performing actor for the day. Will it be Oscar worthy? Training and fixing issues/mistakes is for another place and another time.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Thursday, December 01, 2016 12:00 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    A Steward is an integral part of a dog show's success. Most of these folks volunteer their time to the sport and without them the show would grind to a "Halt." In the Obedience ring a Steward CAN make a big difference in how efficiently a ring functions. Their actions can also have an effect on the performance of the dog in the ring. Stewards are mentioned in the Obedience Regulations in Chapter 1, Section 31, plus a full chapter at the end of the Obedience Regulations to review duties (pages 127- 132). Section 31 in the 1st chapter reads: “Judges are in sole charge of their rings until their assignments are completed. Stewards are provided to assist but may act only on the judge’s instructions. They must not give information or instructions to owners and handlers except when the judge asks them to do so.” The judge shall review with the stewards their duties and the manner in which they are to be performed. Any request from an exhibitor for special consideration must be directed to the judge. This is all fine and dandy IF the Judge gives instructions. I have stewarded at trials where the Judge just introduces himself and THAT IS IT for the instructions. Or, the instructions are SO FEW one is still left in the dark as to what the Judge is expecting. In such a case, ASK QUESTIONS before the class starts. Such a Judge should be put on the spot as to what will be required of the Stewards. The exhibitors are the ones to be kept in mind, as they will benefit from a knowledgeable Steward. Let's not forget, the handlers and the dogs are the IMPORTANT ones for the day. A few things a Steward will need to know BEFORE the class starts are:

    Novice A & B & Preferred Novice (No group exercises in Preferred Novice)
    1. How does the Judge want to handle conflicts?
    2. About how many dogs in each Group and if all the groups will be done at the end of the class, or not?
    3. Where are handlers and dogs to be brought into the ring?
    4. Where is the Figure Eight to be performed and how and where are the Stewards to stand?
    5. Who takes the leash after the Heel on Leash?
    6. Does the Judge need the clipboard held during the Stand for Examination?7. Is the Steward to bring the leash to the handler after the last exercise?
    8. Where are the Stewards to stand during the Groups?
    9. What do the Stewards do when a dog "breaks" during the Groups?
    10. What instructions, if any, are to be given by the Stewards to the handlers?

    Graduate Novice, Open A & B & Preferred Open (No group exercises in Preferred Open.)
    1. The above Novice items 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 again apply.
    2. What is the Steward to do with the dumbbell before and after the retrieves?
    3. Where are the extra boards from the High Jump and extra Broad Jump hurdles to be placed when not being used by some dogs?
    4. During the Graduate Novice and Open A & B group exercises (in particular) the stewards must be used to assist the judge. Judges must provide stewards with slip leads to expedite removal of a dog that interferes with another dog or to leash a dog that attempts to leave the ring. The hander is also to inform the steward when leaving the ring after the individual exercises IF they will be returning for the group exercises. There will be times where this requirement may slip the handler’s mind; therefore, it might be best to ask the handler as they leave the ring if they will be returning. It will save time in the long run when getting ready for the group exercises and filling out the group judging sheet.

    Graduate Open, Utility & Preferred Utility
    The above Novice items 1, 3, 7, and 10 again apply (The above Open item 3 applies in regards to the High Jump).
    1. How are the scent articles to be handled when the handler brings them to the table?
    2. Where are the scent articles to be placed in the ring and how does the Judge want them arranged.
    3. What instructions are given in placing the gloves and picking up the remaining gloves?
    4. What is the Steward to do during the Moving Stand and Examination? The Judge is in sole charge of the way they want the ring conducted, but if this is NOT conveyed to the Stewards the first several handlers may be entering a "zoo" instead of an Obedience ring. If the Judge does not give instructions or if they are vague -- ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE the first team enters the ring.

    A few things in mind and you will be much appreciated by the handlers and Judge:
    1. Be knowledgeable of the class one is asked to steward.
    2. Arrive at least one-half hour before the start of judging to assist in setting up the ring and receiving instructions.
    3. Pay attention to the dog in the ring. Be ready when the Judge and handler need the Steward's assistance. For example, know the heeling pattern ends. This way one will be ready to immediately respond for the next exercise, if needed. When a dog and handler have to wait for Stewards, it breaks up their pace and can affect their performance. Being ready when needed will save a considerable amount of time during the day, plus the handlers like the opportunity to get in and out of the ring in an efficient manner. Try to give total attention to the dog and handler in the ring, and if other handlers have questions they can be answered in "off" time. The dog and handler in the ring come first.
    4. After the last individual exercise, if not instructed differently by the Judge, take the leash to the handler. This is not only a courteous action, but it may help prevent the handler in an advanced class from taking hold of the collar and guiding the dog to the table.
    5. During the Figure Eight exercise, don't stare at the dog. Some dogs may interpret this wrong and thus affect their performance. However Stewards hold their hands during the Figure Eight, be consistent for all dogs.
    6. In a class with a dumbbell, if asked to bring the dumbbell to the handler, carry the dumbbell in a way in which not to excite the dog. Many dogs love to retrieve and if a Steward swings the dumbbell around while walking out to the handler, the dog could lose control and thus be subject to a penalty.
    7. In Utility, MAKE SURE the dog is watching BEFORE PLACING out and arranging the scent articles.
    8. When placing the articles, just handle them enough to arrange them per the Judge's instructions. The Regulations call for the Steward or Judge to HANDLE each of the remaining articles -- this does NOT imply to "SCENT" the articles. Also, the Steward placing the articles should beware of a foreign scent on their hands such as cigarette smoke or food. The scent given when handling the articles should be consistent for all dogs.
    9. Concentrate on placing the gloves correctly. Make sure they are on the Judge's mark. If no mark or instructions are given, the center glove is to be centered between dog and handler and about 3 feet from the side of the ring. The corner gloves are to be placed about 3 feet from each side of the ring in the corner. The Directed Retrieve is done in the unobstructed end of the ring, and the gloves are only to be placed while the dog and handler are facing away. No table or chair is to be at this end of the ring.
    10. Dress appropriately, for weather outside or varying temperatures indoors. 

    The job of a Steward is not one to take lightly. Know what the Judge requires--think ahead and be ready when needed to save time. The Judge and, most important, the handlers will appreciate the effort.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2016 12:00 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    Take the time to sit at ringside and watch judging taking place at as many shows as possible. It is a wonderful learning experience all by itself.

    To assist you in your learning observations:
    _ Setting up the ring, (Review Chapter 1)
    _ Check ring size, location of gate and table (move if needed).
    _ Double-check jumps by measuring. 1/2 inch deviation is okay.
    _ Material of jumps, flat white, weight of wood, check the bar for weight for wood.
    _ Placement of jumps, pay attention to lighting and ring enclosures from the DOG’s line of sight. If mats are necessary they must be at least 4’ width under the jumps.
    _ Make note of the place for out of sight stays (Graduate Novice & Regular Open).
    _ Mark the ring for all your classes prior to the start of the first class--saves time.
    _ If deficiencies cannot be corrected, note in Judge’s Book.

    _ Managing the ring - Heeling pattern(s) & Postings.
    _ Is your pattern choppy or does it have a smooth flow for ALL breeds?
    _ Is the heeling away from the ring gate and table, if possible?
    _ Is the Figure Eight out and away from obstructions (gates – jumps)?
    _ Have you preplanned adequate space for the physically challenged handlers?
    _ How do you plan to inform the exhibitors of your heeling pattern (tell, show, post)?
    _ Post required information for the class(es) to judge 45-minutes ahead of start time.

    _ Steward’s instructions.
    _ Thank your stewards for volunteering their time.
    _ Review their duties and make sure they are understood before the class starts.
    _ Having printed instructions works best as you will then not forget items to cover, plus they will then have a hard copy to refer back to, if needed.
    _ Have leashes available for the Group exercises (Graduate Novice & Regular Open) and additional instructions for how you want the Group exercises handled.

    _ Judging positions - for all exercises.
    _ Give serious thought to the best positions for each exercise for observing the team in action. Keep your distance; be aware of your movements so as not to interfere.
    _ Stay on the dog’s side as much time as possible, especially for the Fast and Slow during the heeling exercise.

    _ Watching dogs, handlers and scoring (Create habits).
    _ In a class with jumps, first look at the jumps to make sure they are set correctly before the team enters the ring. Then look at the dog entering the ring to make sure (in your mind) the jumps are set for at least the minimum standard height and/or distances for that breed. Know how to measure to verify height.
    _ Bring the team into the ring ONLY when you are ready to proceed.
    _ As the team enters the ring, do a quick visual check of the collar, leash and for forms of identification, making sure all items conform to the Regulations.
    _ Check the armband; first to make sure there is one and it matches your worksheet.
    _ Keep your eyes on the team once they enter the ring and until they leave the ring.
    _ Exercises where the handler leaves the dog, keep the DOG in your vision and the handler in your peripheral vision until the handler reaches where they are going. If any scoring is to take place during this timeframe it most likely will be the DOG.
    _ After the last exercise (individual in particular) refrain from too much conservation with the handler. Let them concentrate on getting the leash on their dog and exiting under control. Do not be a distraction to the team which could end up causing a scorable fault for which YOU may have been the cause.
    _ Watch the team exiting the ring before you enter data in the Judge’s Book.
    _ Make sure the leash is attached or slipped through the collar as the team exits; otherwise a scorable fault is warranted under Miscellaneous Penalties.

    _ Use the WORDS in the Obedience Regulations.
    _ Know and use the correct words in the Regulations if you are giving information or feedback to the handler. For example, do NOT inform the handler the dog “bumped.” The dog “crowded” and did not allow the handler “freedom of motion at all times.” The handler should be able to go to the Regulations and find exactly what your comment was all about.

    _ Awards ceremony.
    _ The AKC considers this a BIG deal, so practice in getting procedure down.
    _ Make sure your ribbons are at ringside well before the end of the class and double-check to be sure they conform to the Regulations (Chapter 1, Section 18).
    _ Bring all the qualifying handlers (Regular, Alternative or Optional titling classes) back into the ring.
    _ You are required to inform the spectators that a perfect score is 200 points.
    _ You have the choice to present the placement ribbons in the order of 1st > 4th
    _ or 4th > 1st.
    _ As you announce the placement and score, bring that team forward and have them STAY forward. Speak UP so the spectators OUTSIDE the ring can hear you!
    _ Bring the next placement forward (etc.) and line them up next to the team previously brought forward. The objective is to present to the spectators the placements and separate them from the other qualifiers in the ring.
    _ After the placements are presented, next go down the line of qualifiers and YOU hand them the Qualifying Score ribbon and announce to them their score.

    _ Judge’s Book entries.
    _ Know how to fill out a Judge’s Book. Refer to the Judge’s Guidelines (Chapter 5) for samples.
    _ When you go to the table to enter data in the Judge’s Book do it efficiently and move on to your next team. Precious time can be lost at the table resulting in running late.
    _ Write neat and be precise, plus double-check your addition.
    _ Keep in mind, there are new abbreviations to be used (NQ-R & HLR).
    _ When writing in the book know the differences between “Excused” and “Released” and when to use the correct word in your entry.
    _ Make SURE all the boxes are filled in, including absentees, Miscellaneous Penalties; write in the Regular Open B/Utility B and Preferred Open/Utility exercises and the Roman numeral for the chosen exercise order.
    _ If you made a correction in the book make sure it is initialed.
    _ Double-check to see you have the times started and stop entered in the book.
    _ Double-check to see the placements, scores and catalog numbers are recorded.
    _ Double-check to see all information is carried down to the Total Score and Final Qualifying Score boxes.
    _ If there was a run-off did you add in the plus (+) sign(s) to indicate the winner(s)?
    _ If there were discrepancies or explanations needed, write those in on the inside cover of the Judge’s Book. Carry a piece of carbon paper in your briefcase so you can make a copy of what you wrote on the cover for your records.
    _ Sign the book!
    _ If a dog was disqualified or a dog-on-dog attack, complete those forms and make sure they are also turned in.
    _ If you hand off the book to be turned in, give the book ONLY to the Obedience Chairman, Superintendent or Show Secretary. Your “worksheets” are not to be given out, that would include photographing.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Saturday, October 01, 2016 12:00 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

    To assist you in your apprenticing for becoming an obedience judge, observe how a Judge sets up and marks their ring for the different classes, plus judging position(s) during the various exercises. Take notes go over them with the Judge if time permits.

    1) Size of the ring for the class(es) being judged for the day.
    2) The marks put out in the ring when setting up for the different classes.
    3) Placement of the judge’s table.
    4) Ring gate as it relates to heeling pattern and the different exercises.
    5) Placement of jumps and checking the equipment.
    6) Heeling pattern(s)--Is your pattern fair to all breeds and handlers? Is it choppy?
    7) Are the Fast, Slow and Halts adequate and fair to all breeds?
    8) Positions and movements during the heeling pattern--observing the most possible!
    9) Position during the different exercises- is a reason for where the Judge stands.
    10) Calling of Judge’s orders--correct orders, timing the giving of the order.
    11) Instructions to the stewards.
    12) Posted materials at ringside.
    13) Worksheets and charts to assist in making quick notes for scoring and feedback.
    14) Group exercises:
    a.) Group worksheet for scoring and notations for qualifiers and non-qualifiers.
    b.) Handling group issues.
    c.) Instructions to handlers and stewards.
    d.) Find out where the out of sight area well be BEFORE you start judging the class.
    15) Note handler and dog errors between exercises that are scorable (also during Groups).
    16) Checking the items the handler presents for the different classes and when to check.
    17) Observing the dog and handler while in the ring at ALL times from entering to exiting.
    18) Judge’s Book--filling out the Book, who to give it to and when to turn it in.
    19) Announcements, Awards and presenting the placements to the audience.
    20) What’s in the briefcase? “Tools of the trade” so you are prepared.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

  • Thursday, September 15, 2016 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)


    NOVICE - RECALL (Chapter 3, Sections 10 and 11)
    The suggested location for a judge is off to the side of the dog and handler and slightly behind. A narrow angle gives a better view of the team and being on the side of the dog gives a less obstructed view. As the handler leaves the dog, both can be observed. When the dog is called or signaled the judge can move in (at a distance) and follow the dog. If the path of the dog is followed the judge will "give up" a good view of noticing if the dog sat out too far or came in too close. Walking in at the angle will afford a better view of the Front, and then the judge can step behind the dog to judge the Front and Finish.

    OPEN - RETRIEVE ON THE FLAT (Chapter 4, Sections 9 and 10)
    When the handler sends the dog to retrieve the judge is basically observing two Recalls plus the retrieving parts of the exercise. The dog must go out directly, at a brisk trot or gallop, retrieve promptly, at the end of the ring with the team or at the far end of the ring in front of and off to the side of the team. Both locations give the judge a constant view of the dog and handler at the same time. A judge who stands in the middle of the ring can only watch the dog OR handler - not BOTH at the same time. The same holds true for the Retrieve Over High Jump and Scent Discrimination. If you compromise your viewing of an exercise you also compromise your judging of an exercise!

    6. The scoring of a performance.
    Judgment is based on knowledge and experience and as a judge scores a performance they will be drawing from these resources. Having a good knowledge of Obedience before you start judging is important, but one's knowledge and understanding will grow with experience. In Chapter 2 of the Obedience Regulations, Sections 1, 5 and 24 need to be reviewed. Before stepping into the ring to judge you will need to be aware of the various faults and have an understanding of what penalties are to be applied to said faults. From reading the Regulations one will obtain an idea of what constitutes a minor or substantial penalty. The Glossary of Terms defines a minor penalty as 2 1/2 points or LESS and a substantial as 3 or MORE points. The Regulations also mention some of the more common faults and state whether to apply a substantial or minor penalty. They also give the latitude of applying a minor or substantial penalty. Sounds simple, but good judging comes from knowing when to apply which penalty and the assessment of points to be taken off.

    The heeling exercises are among the most challenging to judge. The scoring is not all clear-cut. For example, what point value will YOU apply to a dog that does NOT sit as the handler comes to a halt? The Regulations list some of the faults associated with heeling and the scoring in Chapter 3, Section 6: "Substantial or minor deductions shall be made for such things as lagging, heeling wide, forging, crowding, poor sits, failure to sit, handler failing to walk at a brisk pace, occasional guidance with leash and other imperfections of heeling." These are imperfections in heeling, as the dog is not performing the exercise to perfection as described in Chapter 3, Section 5. YOU now have to determine if this is a minor or substantial penalty and then what point value to deduct.

    Let's say you had three different dogs come into YOUR ring and on the first halt during the heeling exercise each dog failed to sit. As you penalize the no sit do YOU have a preset value of points to assess? For example, do you feel a no sit is a substantial penalty and therefore subject to a three or more point deduction? Or, are you going to consider the different actions that took place as the handler halted before making your decision?

    To help make up your mind, consider a few of the variables in regards to the three dogs not sitting:
    A. The handler halts and the dog stands in perfect heel position.
    B. The handler halts and the dog stands on the handler's left side but out at a 45 degree angle to the direction in which the handler is facing.
    C. The handler halts and the dog forges ahead and then comes back and stands in front of and facing the handler.

    Each dog made the error of not sitting but the degree of error differed from dog A to C. Are you still going to deduct a set number of points for a no sit or develop a scoring system that might be a little more flexible as to the seriousness of the error? Keep in mind, one of your responsibilities is to separate the top four dogs and handlers in the class. What if dogs A, B and C only had that one error. Will you have a three-way runoff, or will you have separated their work by scoring the differences in their work? These are some of the tough decisions YOU are going to have to make!

    In all exercises the first thing to keep in mind is the principle part of the exercise and did the dog and/or handler meet the requirements. If in question, refer to the Regulations for that exercise and if still in doubt read the first sentence of Chapter 2, Section 3, QUALIFYING PERFORMANCE. In the scoring of a performance, another area to consider is the penalizing of SEVERAL serious faults during an exercise. The Regulations may state when a substantial deduction is to be applied but the judge must also keep in mind if the dog and/or handler are fulfilling the minimum requirements of that exercise and if the performance warrants a qualifying score.

    For example, the Retrieve On Flat is a twenty-point exercise. In order for a dog and handler to have a qualifying performance in AN exercise, they must earn OVER 50% of the points available in that exercise. In this case they must earn at least ten and one-half points. Now, let's look at a dog's performance on the Retrieve On The Flat.

    A. The dog SAUNTERS out to retrieve the dumbbell on command.
    B. The dumbbell is picked up, then dropped and again picked up.
    C. The dog SAUNTERS back to the handler and performs a perfect Front.
    D. The dog SAUNTERS into a Finish (on command) and has a poor sit.

    The errors listed in A, B and C are substantial deductions, depending on the extent, as per Chapter 4, Section 9. Are YOU going to deduct the minimum points (three) for a substantial deduction for EACH occurrence in A, B and C? Then are YOU going to score the lack of being prompt and smart in the performance of the Finish along with the poor sit? Let's say you take JUST a half-point off for the Finish and another half-point off for the poor sit. Look at your total deductions. You may have taken off ten points from a twenty-point exercise. That is NOT MORE THAN 50%. Are YOU going to fail the dog? Or, will it be your philosophy of judging to score harder during the first several major faults and ease off as long as the work is still qualifying in your mind? The dog did perform the exercise by responding promptly to the handler's "Fetch" command and completed the exercise as per the requirements in Chapter 4, Section 8. These are just a FEW examples of things to THINK of when you step into the judge's shoes. Who said judging Obedience was easy!? It is a challenge and very rewarding when you leave the trial knowing you did your best for the sport.

    7. How are the ribbon prizes presented?
    After the last dog in the class has been judged, the scores are recorded and the judge calls the qualifying teams back into the ring for presenting the prizes and awards.

    The American Kennel Club wants like the presenting of ribbon prizes to be a bit of a ceremony. Winning the blue through white ribbons is a big deal and the judge should present the winners to the spectators, who are on the outside of the ring. A good judge will first address the onlookers and briefly state what constitutes a perfect score, and may go into detail describing a qualifying score. The judge should keep their comments to a minimum during the awards ceremony and then announce the prize winning dog and handler. It is suggested to mention the score BEFORE the armband number. If armband number is announced first the spectators will clap and cheer and miss hearing the score.

    As a judge you will want to "present" the first four prizewinners and separate the four teams away from the rest of the qualifiers in the class. This way the spectators can observe and take note as to who won. Have the winners come forward to receive the ribbon prize and ask them to remain in front of the group. Then do the same for second through fourth. Also, keep in mind to speak up when awarding the four placements so people in the second row outside the ring can hear.

    After the placements are concluded the judge then goes to each handler and tells them their score. You then conclude the awards and turn in the Judge's Book. If time permits after turning in the Book you may speak with exhibitors about their scores. The judge is encouraged, but not required, to discuss the scoring, but a judge need not enter into any discussion with any contestant who appears to be dissatisfied. This sport is based on good sportsmanship and that is the image to project.

    When speaking with exhibitors use the same words that appear in the Regulations. For example, don't tell the handler the dog lost points for bumping during the heeling. "Bumping" is NOT a word used in the Regulations. The judge should have chosen words such as crowding or not allowing the handler freedom of motion at all times, rather than commonly used obedience lingo. Using terms other than those found in the Regulations might be misleading and confusing, creating some doubts as to the knowledge of the judge. Judges bear the responsibility of educating exhibitors -- new and "old."

    If you are considering applying to judge Obedience in the future, keep a good perspective...judging should be taken seriously but not to the point where the fun and common sense are lost. At the same time don't overlook the dedicated, experienced exhibitors who have invested countless time and work into the sport, or the Novices just starting out. They deserve and demand good, fair, consistent judging and it will be up to YOU to meet these demands. Don't let the title of judge go to your head, or form the opinion that you "know it all" and "have seen it all." NO ONE has a 200 in that department - so keep mentally fit by attending AKC Obedience Judging Seminars, training dogs, and observing other judges. Obtaining approval to judge is JUST the beginning!

    This article only provides you with a LITTLE idea of what it takes to step into the shoes of an Obedience judge. If you plan to walk in these shoes always put the sport of dogs first in your thinking. We have a fun sport and it requires responsible people to keep it sound. Judges in Conformation, Tracking, Field, Obedience and other Performance Events have a BIG responsibility in protecting the integrity of the Sport of Purebred Dogs.

    To view more articles please visit our Members Page!

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