Companion Dog Title (CD)
The American Kennel Club will issue a Companion Dog certificate for each registered dog, and will permit the use of the letters CD after the name of each dog that has been certified by three different judges; to have received qualifying scores in Novice Classes at three Licensed or Member Obedience Trials; provided the sum total of dogs that actually competed in the Regular Novice Classes at each trial is not less than six. The exception is that at breed club specialties and at any trial in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or Alaska, qualifying scores will be credited towards the title if the sum total of dogs that actually competed in all of the regular obedience classes is not less than six.
To earn a CD, the dog must score at least 170 out of a possible 200 points, must get at least half the points awarded for each exercise, and must do so under three separate judges at three separate shows. Each qualifying score is called a leg, so three legs equals a title.
Obedience trial classes are divided into sections A and B. Dogs working towards a CD compete at the Novice level. Novice A is for owners who have never owned or co-owned a dog that has earned a CD. Once a person owns or co-owns any CD dog (or if he is handling a dog owned by someone else) he must enter Novice B.
Novice classes consist of six exercises worth a total of 200 points. Each handler and dog team enters the ring with 200 points; the judge then deducts points based on errors made by either the dog or the handler. A zero is scored if the dog fouls the ring or leaves the handler.
- The first exercise is the “heel on leash and figure eight” worth 40 points. The rules require that the dog walk, on a loose leash, with the area between the dog's head and shoulders in line with the handler's left hip. The dog must remain in position as the handler goes fast, slow, left, and right and executes the figure eight on the judge's commands. Each time the judge says “halt,” the dog must sit straight by the handler's side. A zero is scored if the dog is unmanageable.
- The second exercise is the “stand for examination,” worth 30 points. The dog must stand in position and stay while being examined by the judge while the handler stands six feet away. A zero is scored if the dog moves away or shows shyness or resentment, growls, snaps, or sits.
- The third exercise is the “heel free,” which is 40 points. This exercise is performed and scored the same as the “heel on leash” except that the dog is off-leash and there is no figure eight.
- The fourth exercise is the “recall,” worth 30 points. The dog must sit and stay where left by the handler until it is called, then go directly to the handler and sit in front. A zero is scored if the dog does not stay, does not come on the first call, or does not sit close enough for the handler to reach the its head. The dog must then return to heel position on command, either by walking around the handler or swinging into place.
- The fifth and sixth exercises are done as a group. The “long sit” is for one minute; the “long down” for three minutes, both done off-leash with the handler standing across the ring. A zero is scored if the dog moves away from its place, visits another dog, or repeatedly barks or whines
Elements of the Companion Dog Title
1. Heel on Leash and Figure Eight 40 points
2. Stand for Examination 30 points
3. Heel Free 40 points
4. Recall 30 points
5. Long Sit 30 points
6. Long Down 30 points
Maximum Total Score 200 points
Exercises and Scoring Explanation
The orders may be given in any sequence and may be repeated as necessary, but the judge shall attempt to standardize the heeling pattern for all dogs in any class.
The leash may be held in either hand or in both hands, provided the hands are in a natural position. However, any tightening or jerking of the leash or any act, signal or command which in the judge's opinion gives the dog assistance shall be penalized.
The handler shall enter the ring with his dog on a loose leash and stand with the dog sitting in the Heel position. The judge shall ask if the handler is ready before giving the order, "Forward." The handler may give a command or signal to Heel, and shall walk briskly and in a natural manner with his dog on a loose leash. The dog shall walk close to the left side of the handler without swinging wide, lagging, forging or crowding. Whether heeling or sitting, the dog must not interfere with the handler's freedom of motion at any time. At each order to Halt, the handler will stop and his dog shall sit straight and promptly in the Heel position without command or signal, and shall not move until the handler again moves forward on order from the judge. It is permissible after each Halt, before moving again, for the handler to give a command or signal to Heel. The judge shall say, "Exercise finished," after this portion of the exercise.
Before starting the "Figure Eight", the judge shall ask if the handler is ready. The Figure Eight signifies that on specific orders from the judge to Forward and Halt, the handler and dog, from a starting position about equidistant from the two stewards and facing the judge, shall walk briskly twice completely around and between the two stewards, who shall stand 8 feet apart. The Figure Eight in the Novice Classes shall be done on leash. The handler may choose to go in either direction. There shall be no About Turn or Fast or Slow in the Figure Eight, but the judge must order at least one Halt during, and another Halt, at the end of this portion of the exercise.
Heel on Leash & Figure Eight Scoring.
If a dog is unmanageable, or if its handler constantly controls its performance by tugging on the leash or adapts pace to that of the dog, the dog must be scored zero.
Substantial deductions shall be made for additional commands or signals to Heel and for failure of dog or handler to noticeably accelerate speed forward for the Fast and noticeably decelerate speed forward for the Slow.
Substantial or minor deductions shall be made for such things as lagging, heeling wide, forging, crowding, poor sits, handler failing to walk at a brisk pace, occasional guidance with leash and other imperfections in heeling.
In scoring this exercise the judge shall accompany the handler at a discreet distance so that he can observe any signals or commands given by the handler to the dog. The judge must do so without interfering with either dog or handler.
2. Stand for Examination
The principal features of this exercise are that the dog stand in position before and during the examination and that it not display resentment.
Orders are "Stand your dog and leave when you are ready," "Back to your dog" and "Exercise finished." There will be no further command from the judge to the handler to leave the dog.
On judge's order, the handler shall remove the leash and give it to a steward who shall place it on the judge's table or other designated place.
The handler will take his dog to the place indicated by the judge, and on the judge's order, the handler will stand and/or pose his dog off leash by the method of his choice, taking any reasonable time if he chooses to pose the dog as in the show ring. When he is ready, the handler will stand with the dog in the heel position, and give his command and/or signal to the dog to Stay, walk forward about six feet in front of the dog, turn around and stand facing the dog.
The judge shall approach the dog from the front, and shall touch only the dog's head, body and hindquarters, using the fingers and palm of one hand only. He shall then order, "Back to your dog," whereupon the handler shall walk around behind his dog and return to the Heel position. The dog must remain standing until after the judge has said, "Exercise finished."
Stand for Examination Scoring
The scoring of this exercise will not start until the handler has given the command and/or signal to Stay. Except for, there will be no penalty.
A dog shall be scored zero if it displays resentment, growls, or snaps at any time, sits or lies down before or during the examination, or moves away from the place where it was left, either before or during the examination.
Minor or substantial deductions, depending on the circumstance, shall be made for a dog that moves its feet at any time, or sits, or moves away after the examination has been completed.
Minor or substantial deductions varying with the extent, even to the point of zero, shall be made for shyness.
3. Heel Free, Performance and Scoring.
This exercise shall be executed in the same manner as Heel on Leash and Figure Eight; except that the dog shall be off leash and that there shall be no Figure Eight. Orders and scoring shall also be the same.
The principal features of this exercise are that the dog stay where left until called by its handler, and that the dog respond promptly to the handler's command or signal to "Come."
Orders are "Leave your dog," "Call your dog" and "Finish."
On order from the judge, the handler may give command and/or signal to the dog to stay in the Sit position while the handler walks forward about 35 feet to the other end of the ring. At the end of the ring, the handler shall turn and stand in a natural manner facing his dog. On judge's order or signal, the handler will give command or signal for the dog to "Come." The dog must come directly in at a brisk trot or gallop and sit straight, centered immediately in front of the handler's feet, close enough that the handler could readily touch its head without moving either foot or having to stretch forward. The dog must not touch the handler or sit between his feet. On judge's order the handler will give command or signal of Finish and the dog must go smartly to the Heel position and Sit. The manner in which the dog finishes shall be optional with the handler provided that it is prompt and that the dog sit straight at Heel.
A dog must receive a score of zero for the following: not "Staying" without additional command or signal, failure to "Come" on the first command or signal, moving from the place where left before being called or signaled, not sitting close enough so that the handler could readily touch its head without stretching or moving either foot.
Substantial deductions shall be made for a slow response to the Come, varying with the extent of the slowness; failure of the dog to come at a brisk trot or gallop; for the dog's standing or lying down instead of waiting in the Sit position; for failure to Sit in Front; failure to Finish or Sit at Heel; or for extra command or signal to Sit or Finish.
Minor to substantial deductions shall be made depending on the specific circumstances in each case for failure to come directly into the handler.
Minor deductions shall be made for slow or poor Sits or Finishes which are not prompt or smart, for touching the handler on coming in or while finishing, and for sitting between the handler's feet.
5 & 6. Group Exercises
The principal feature of these exercises is that the dog remain in the Sitting or Down position, whichever is required by the particular exercise.
Orders are "Sit your dogs" or "Down your dogs," "Leave your dogs" and "Back to your dogs."
All the competing dogs in the class take these exercises together, except that if there are 12 or more dogs they shall, at the judge's option, be judged in groups of not less than 6 or more than 12 dogs. When the same judge does both Novice A and Novice B, the two classes may be combined provided there are not more than 12 dogs competing in the combined classes. The judge shall divide his class into approximately equal sections. The group exercises shall be judged after each section. The dogs that are in the ring shall be lined up in catalog order along one of the four sides of the ring. Handler's arm bands, weighted with leashes or other articles if necessary, shall be placed behind the dogs.
For the "Long Sit", the handlers shall, on order from the judge, command and/or signal their dogs to Sit if they are not already sitting. On further order from the judge to leave their dogs, the handlers shall give a command and/or signal to Stay and immediately leave their dogs. The handlers will go to the opposite side of the ring, turn and stand facing their respective dogs.
If a dog gets up and starts to roam or follows its handler, or if a dog moves so as to interfere with another dog, the judge shall promptly instruct the handler or one of the stewards to take the dog out of the ring or to keep it away from the other dogs.
After one minute from the time he has ordered the handlers to leave their dogs, the judge will give the order to return, whereupon the handlers must promptly go back to their dogs, each walking around and in back of his own dog to the "Heel" position. The dogs must not move from the sitting position until after the judge has said, "Exercise Finished." The judge shall not give the order "Exercise Finished" until the handlers have returned to the "Heel" position.
Before starting the Long Down, the judge shall ask if the handlers are ready. The Long Down is done in the same manner as the Long Sit, except that instead of sitting their dogs, the handlers shall, on order from the judge, down their dogs to a position facing the opposite side of the ring. Without touching either the dogs or their collars, the Judge will order the handlers to return after three minutes. The dogs must not move from the Down position until after the judge has said, "Exercise Finished."
The dogs shall not be required to sit at the end of the Down exercise.
During these exercises the judge shall stand in such position that all the dogs are in his line of vision, and where he can see all the handlers in the ring without having to turn around.
Scoring of the exercises will not start until after the judge has ordered the handlers to leave their dogs, except 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 or lie Down. These shall be penalized substantially; in extreme cases the dog may be excused.
A handler whose dog assumes a position in such a manner that it could interfere with an adjacent competing dog shall be required to reposition his dog and shall also be substantially penalized. In extreme cases the dog may be excused.
A score of zero is required for the following:
if the dog moves at any time during either exercise;
a substantial distance away from the place where it was left,
or going over to any other dog
or staying on the spot where it was left but not remaining in whichever position is required
or repeatedly barking or whining.
The Judge shall not give the order "Exercise finished" until the handlers have returned to the Heel position.
*Although, an owner or trainer can by-pass the CGC and Rally title and go right to the CD title, we recommend going through each each level as further pre-placement steps in life outside the safety of the home.