An obedience trial is a dog sport in which a dog must perfectly execute a predefined set of tasks when directed to do so by his handler. According the American Kennel Club (AKC) obedience regulations
The basic objective of obedience trials, however, is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions.
Training a dog to participate in AKC obedience trials increases a dog’s understanding and reliability in responding to commands such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come”, and “heel.” At a trial, the dog and handler will perform various predefined obedience exercises, which will be evaluated and scored by a judge. The dog must demonstrate basic proficiency in order to receive a passing score (170 points out of a possible 200, and at least 50% of the points allocated to each exercise). A handler may choose to train for higher degrees of accuracy and style in order to receive more points. For example, on a recall, to receive a perfect score the dog must come at a trot or run directly to the handler, without sniffing or veering to one side, and sit straight in front of the handler, not at an angle or off to one side or the other.
The dog and handler teams with the four highest scores in a given class will receive placement ribbons, and sometimes additional prizes. All dogs that receive a passing score earn a “leg” towards an obedience title. When a dog has accumulated the requisite number of legs for a given title, the AKC will issue a certificate to the dog’s owner recognizing that accomplishment.
Obedience competition provides an opportunity for a person and a dog to work as a highly tuned team. Training for obedience trials can provide much needed mental stimulation and physical activity for a bored housepet, and provide a fun and challenging hobby for the dog’s owner.