Every dachshund is capable of attaining a novice or Companion Dog (CD) title in obedience. Many dachsies will be able to go all the way and achieve their Utility Dog (UD), the AKC's most difficult obedience level.
At the novice level, you and your dog will be required to heel on lead, heel in a figure eight, heel off lead, stand for examination, recall, sit-stay (one minute), and down-stay (three minutes). A passing score is 170 points out of 200 possible. A dog must receive three passing scores, or “legs,” to be awarded a title.
At the open level, things get progressively harder. For the Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title, the obedience exercises include retrieving and jumps. The highest level, Utility Dog (UD), adds scent discrimination and hand signals to the mix.
The beauty of obedience trials is that you can train at different levels. You can train your dachsie at your local training club just for the fun of it. If you want to title your dog, you can enter trials with the goal of simply passing and eventually attaining titles. Or you can set your sights higher, trying to better your dog's scores and performances every time you enter the ring.
The level at which you decide to foray into obedience is up to you and your dachshund. If you keep your training positive and reward-based, you and your dachshund can go far and have fun.
The most recent canine sport is rally-style obedience, known officially as Rally obedience (with the AKC) and Rally-0 (with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers or APDT). In rally-style obedience, dog and handler go through a course from station to station. At each station, a sign indicates what skill the dog and handler are to perform before going to the next station.
If you are training to compete in AKC Rally obedience, you should be able to compete in APDT Rally-0 trials, too. The two events are very similar, with variations mostly in the number of stations in the ring and the types of tasks you might be asked to perform.
The task include such things as “Halt — 1, 2, 3 Steps Forward.” To complete this task, the handler takes one step forward with the dog in heel position and stops. The dog then sits. The handler takes two steps forward with the dog in heel position and stops. The dog sits again. Finally, the handler takes three steps forward with the dog in heel position and stops. The dog sits. Then it's on to the next station!
In APDT rally trials, the dog and handler team are given a maximum of four minutes to complete the course. The fastest time with the highest score wins the class. Three passing scores of 170/200 points earn a title. The APDT currently offers two skill levels: Rally-0 Level 1 (Rl) and Rally-0 Level 2 (R2). Both verbal praise and food treats can be used as rewards in the competitions. Handicapped dachshunds are also welcome to compete in APDT trials. (AKC does not allow disabled dogs in its trials.)
Getting started in rally-style obedience involves finding an obedience-training club. Since the AKC approved Rally obedience as a titling sport, beginning January 2005, obedience clubs are anticipated to hold Rally obedience classes at trials along with formal obedience classes.
If you like music, and you enjoy obedience, you and your dachshund might be interested in canine freestyle or musical canine freestyle. Both sports involve developing a routine to music with your dog. Canine freestyle events emphasize heeling maneuvers and are held by the Canine Freestyle Federation, Inc. (CFF).
Canine freestyle offers several different levels of competition, from an on-lead novice level to an off-lead advanced level. At each level of competition, the dog and handler must perform certain required elements. For example, at Levels I and II, the required elements are right and/or left side heelwork, frontwork, pace changes, turns and/or pivots, and circles, serpentines, or spirals. The dog and handler team are given a specified amount of time for their routine, which of course must be set to music.
Musical canine freestyle is more like a well-choreographed dance routine between dog and handler, with events held by Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA) and World Canine Freestyle Organization, Inc. (WCFO). This fun sport begins as dancing with a dog to music, but in the highest levels of competition, it is an awe-inspiring performance.
Musical Canine Freestyle has divisions for special dachshunds! There is a class for seniors (nine or older) and paraplegic dachshunds (just for physically challenged dogs and/or handlers). Titles are awarded in these divisions.
Handlers and their dogs are encouraged to dress the part, and teams are judged on choice of music, timing, costuming, routine development, and showmanship. The movements that the dog and handler choose to perform are up to them. They can be basic obedience (such as heeling), variations of obedience skills, tricks, flips, dips, aerials, or something your dog does naturally that fits in well with the music.
If you are interested in learning more about these musical sports, contact the sanctioning organization for each. They'll be able to put you in contact with trainers in your area. If you can't find anyone in your immediate area, you can view videotapes to help you train your dog and/or attend seminars that are held around the country.