Obedience training has been the primary performance activity for dogs for more than 50 years. The advantage of choosing to train your dog in obedience, besides providing you with a well-behaved dog, is that you can usually find classes and trials almost anywhere you live.
Obedience trials demonstrate the dog's ability to work with and for his handler. Many of the exercises reflect origins in tasks useful for working and herding dogs, but Westies can learn these skills as well as any breed.
Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) offer competition for obedience titles at their shows. Both offer titles for different levels of competition, including (in ascending order of difficulty) a CD (Companion Dog) title; CDX (Companion Dog Excellent); and UD (Utility Dog). Additional titles are offered by both registries for advanced obedience work. Over the years, Westies have earned nearly 900 CDs, 211 CDXs and 48 UDs.
The best way to learn about obedience is to attend an obedience trial and watch.
If you are interested, you can join an all-breed dog club or training club that offers classes. Often such clubs will also offer classes for some or all of the other dog sports, but basic obedience is recommended as a foundation for all of the other activities. If you contact the AKC or the UKC, they can tell you about clubs in your area that offer classes.
Rally is a new titling activity related to Obedience. It is a "team" sport where the dog and handler act as a team as opposed to the handler giving commands which the dog then obeys. The handler can talk to the dog and encourage the dog throughout the course. Errors which are scored in traditional obedience as 1/2 point errors are ignored in Rally. This is a great way for human/dog teams to enter the world of Obedience.
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