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Obedience Rulebook Revisions and Rule Changes
Posted on 11/06/2012 in Dog Events.

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For more information, contact Sydney Suwannarat; ssuwannarat@ukcdogs.com

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN. November 6, 2012 - Greetings, to all UKC Obedience exhibitors! The year 2013 is going to be exciting for obedience. We here in Dog Events, and me personally, would like to get a head start on it by releasing the first of many updated UKC Rulebooks. This new book has been edited and revised for content, clarity and grammar. You will see many sentences that have been re-written, and the lay out and format of the sections have been completely re-designed. It is our sincere hope that you will find the new version of this book easier to read and, more importantly, understand clearly what is laid out within its pages.

There are a few actual rule changes, most of which are just clarifications of existing rules or added sentences to remove the “implied” meaning, making them more definitive and less subjective. There are some rule changes, however, that do directly affect competition and judging. These changes have resulted directly from the questionnaire I sent out last year to all of the obedience judges.

These changes have been highlighted in a separate document titled Obedience Rule Change Highlights (which follows). In the highlights document you will see a compilation of all actual rule changes denoted in bold and italic text. If you go to the actual rulebook, you will also see any new changes in bold and italic text.

The two most significant changes were made to the Group Sit exercise and the Jump Heights. These have been long-standing concerns of obedience exhibitors for a number of years.

First, let’s look at the Group Sit. It is difficult from an organizational standpoint to mediate a divide that seems to be 50 percent for keeping the Group Sit, and 50 percent for removing the Group Sit and replacing it with another exercise (those exercise suggestions vary depending on who is making them). The most common suggestion made that also seemed to be in located in the middle of the divide was to require dogs to keep their leashes attached to their collars during the Group Sit.

Having leashes remain attached to the dog during the Group Sit exercise for Novice and Open affords the judges and stewards (who are often outnumbered by dogs in the Group Sit) some control over the situation should the need arise where dogs need to be controlled or separated for any instance in this exercise.

The second significant change is to that of the jump heights. It is getting increasingly difficult to manage jump heights by either the age or the breed of the dog. The exhibitors of many dogs that do not fit into the age requirement for the veteran height or the breed allowance have valid arguments for wanting to be allowed the option to have their dog jump at three-quarters its height at the withers. Rather than make exceptions for just a few, it was decided to allow any exhibitor to elect to jump the three-quarter jump height. This is now being referred to as the “Minimum Jump Height”. Calculating the regular “Standard” jump height has not changed, nor has the calculation for the three-quarter height. The change is simply that all dogs are now eligible to jump three-quarter their height at the withers.

On entry forms, exhibitors will need to indicate either “Standard” or “Minimum”, along with their dog’s height at the shoulder. This will allow clubs to know which height each exhibitor is competing under. It is our sincere hope that this change will give everyone and every dog the same opportunity to participate in obedience.

You will also see an insert already in the new green book even though it has just been published. This is due to a change at the last minute after the book had gone to print. I received this change from an avid group of obedience judges and exhibitors, and it was included it in the initial printing of the new book; however, on further consideration and additional scrutiny it was decided to leave the exercise as it was, with only one minor change.

The exercise is for the Scent Discrimination. In the book, Option # 1 for sending the dog has been removed; however, you will see in the insert that it is still allowed. I do apologize for any confusion this may cause, but the insert is clear that Option # 1 for sending the dog is still acceptable.

The change to both options is that the “About Turn” order for the judge has been removed. There is only a “Send Your Dog” order for either option for this exercise. To read the entire section, please go to Chapter 6, Section 4 of the new green rulebook.

This situation encouraged me to do something that I have wanted to do since I started here last year, and that is to open up a comment and suggestion period to the entire obedience fancy; for all who participate to be able to send in their thoughts and ideas for rule changes. These will be compiled and consolidated into the most common themes, streamlined and then re-released to the public for further comment. In this vein, I hope to receive some very constructive ideas for the future of obedience as a sport. I would like to open up an intellectual and professional dialogue between UKC and its exhibitors, and I believe this is where we can start!

Details of the open comment period for obedience will be announced shortly, along with the process in which you will need to submit your suggestions. Not all suggestions, no matter how incredible, will be within our reach, but by beginning this discussion we will begin laying the ground work for positive changes to the sport we love.

Thank you for taking the time to read this; I realize it was quite a bit of information. For any questions regarding the new changes to the obedience rules, please do not hesitate to contact me at ssuwannarat@ukcdogs.com.

Click here for the UKC Obedience Rule Change Highlights.

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