Judges' Perspective: an evening with Bob & Cathy Knight


On August 25, I had the pleasure of conducting a webinar with judges, Bob and Cathy Knight.

Bob and Cathy have been training dogs together for nearly 50 years. Together, they have earned 7 Obedience Championships, all Standard Schnauzers, most of whom were also conformation Champions.  Additionally, they have owned and titled an Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzers, a St.Bernard, and Border Terriers.

Prior to retiring and becoming AKC obedience judges, they operated a large boarding, grooming, and training business.  During that time they trained and showed dogs for clients including a Golden Retriever,  Bouvier,  Belgium Sheepdog, Standard Schnauzer,  and Welsh Terriers. 

They became approved to judge all AKC obedience classes in 2009 and told me, “We both enjoy judging and giving back to the sport we have enjoyed for so many years.”

Bob and Cathy shared their thoughts about judging and competing with the rule changes due to the pandemic....

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A friend called the other night to tell me she'd gotten her third UD leg. "I'm going to start entering Open and Utility now, and I'd like to try for UDX legs." She told me.

"Hold on," I told her, "Your dog deserves to get an Obedience Trial Championship, why are you making your next goal a UDX?"

"Well, I'd like to get an OTCH, but I've never done it before, and I'm not sure we can, so I thought I'd get my UDX and then see how we are doing."

This is a very common attitude. There is some fear associated with making an Obedience Trial Championship the training goal. After all, it's generally a tough road and certainly takes a commitment to train, travel, and persevere. Many people don't want to admit that they would like an OTCH as it sounds rather elitist. After all, if they never claim it as a goal, then if they fail to reach it, no one will know!

Furthermore, there is a common perception is that a UDX is more attainable. Since it goes at the end of...

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The 70/30 Split

It certainly seems that after you teach your dog to perform the obedience exercises, you should be able to go to an obedience trial, and earn your title.  Unfortunately, simply learning the skills is not enough.  In fact, it’s probably only about 70% of your preparedness.  Preparing to enter the ring and then choreographing your performance play a large part toward your success.    

Skills (70%) + Warm-Up (10%) + Choreography (20%) = 100% Prepared!  

  1. Skills needed = 70%—Your obedience career begins as you teach your dog the necessary exercises to achieve a Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent, and Utility title.
  2. Warm-up = 10%– This constitutes how you prepare your dog to enter the ring.
  3. Choreography = 20%—this includes understanding the ring procedure, and your strategy for achieving the performance your dog is capable of while you are in the ring. 

Step 1: Developing Skills

Reams of material have been...

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