The following pages highlight some of the activities which members of Dogs ACT (and other States and Territories) participate in each weekend.


Training your dog is the most fun, enjoyable activity around! Your best mate is always ready for you! And then there are all the competitions …

Whether your dog is big or small, hairy or smooth coated, old or young, all dogs will benefit if their owners train basic behaviours. Increasingly, local ACT Government legislation requires ACT residents to be responsible dog owners and imposes penalties for those who fail to comply with their requirements. Even a basic level of training will enable most dog owners to have a happy, well socialised and well behaved dog. And in an emergency situation, you will be so thankful to control your dog!

Dog Training Clubs in the ACT

Dogs ACT can advise dog owners about dog training clubs in Canberra. There are four main all breeds training clubs.

These clubs cater for all categories of dogs – pedigreed, mixed breed, old and young. Some clubs offers kindergarten classes so that puppies over three months of age can be socialised with other puppies and their owners can learn basic tips about handling and caring for their pets.

There is also a breed specific club – the German Shepherd Dog Association which caters for German Shepherds and their owners. https://www.actgsda.org/ (Email: mlbarnes@grapevine.com.au ).

Dog Training Clubs generally offer classes on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. In addition, the ACT Companion Dog Club has classes on Wednesday mornings. A standard condition of joining training clubs is that your dog is currently vaccinated. You’ll need to bring your certificate along with you when you join.

Why train?

The hour you spend each week in a dog training class will help you to understand your dog and teach you how to train your dog to be sociable with other dogs and people. Life is much more enjoyable when you can trust your dog to be well behaved in public and to do what he or she is told. For example, you will learn how to teach your dog to walk beside you on lead without pulling your arm out of its socket; to respond to sit, drop and stay in position commands and to come to you when called. You will teach your dog to allow strangers to pat it without making a fuss and to wait quietly in the sit or down position for a period on your command. Beyond all this is the thrill and pride you feel when you see that your dog is eager to learn and is responding to all you teach him or her.

Many people who join training clubs to learn basic manners skills progress through the classes and compete in club members’ competition and assessment days where they are able to demonstrate the level of skill achieved with their canine companion. The Club environment itself also offers a way of meeting other people with similar interests.

A further step is to join Dogs ACT and compete in official ANKC competitions – trials and/or tests. These are held at regular intervals throughout the year in Canberra and the surrounding NSW trialling venues. The ACT dates are found on this website’s calendar. It is an opportunity to meet other owners and their dogs as you compete to achieve passes at the various levels comprising these most enjoyable sports. Many triallers meet at the trials, camping on the trial grounds or in nearby parks, and combine their sport with a social outing.

What are Trials and/or Tests?

Trials throughout Australia are governed by a national sets of rules and guidelines issued by the Australian National Kennel Control (ANKC). The Canine Association in each State and Territory is affiliated with the ANKC and administers ANKC requirements on its behalf. The ANKC “Rules for the Conduct of Obedience Trials”, for example, states:

  • Obedience Trials demonstrate the dog and handler’s ability to work together with precision and publicly showcase the training that has been undertaken to achieve this. Classes are designed to be progressive, allowing the dog and handler to grow in skill and experience as titles are earned. The performance of the dog and handler in the ring must be accurate and correct according to these rules and regulations. It is also essential that the dog demonstrates willingness and enjoyment while it is working and that the handler demonstrates smooth and natural handling without using harsh commands.

Each set of Rules contain descriptions of each of the exercises for those trials or tests. They provide guidelines and marking procedures for judges who assess a handler/dog team performance and they establish a structured and objective competition framework for judges and competitors. Copies of the Rules for the various dog sports are available from the Dogs ACT office, The ANKC web site or from ACT Obedience Clubs.

Our local training Clubs run classes leading to competition in official trials. Here you and your dog can gain valuable ring experience in a less formal competitive atmosphere. If you then wish to pursue the sport and participate in official trials, you will need to become a financial member of Dogs ACT and register your dog with Dogs ACT for competition purposes.

Trialling Classes, in Obedience Trials:

  • Most competitors start trialling in the Community Companion Class, which primarily involves heelwork on lead, a quick physical examination of the dog by the judge, a Recall and Stay exercises. When three qualifying scores are attained, your dog will be awarded the title of Community Companion Dog and will bear the initials CCD at the end of his registered name.
  • There is also the Novice Class where all exercises are worked off lead, includes the CCD exercises and also a retrieve. Three qualifying scores at this level qualify your dog for the Companion Dog title and the initials CD are gained after your dog’s name.
  • When your dog has the CD title, you can compete in the Open Class. Here all exercises are conducted off lead and includes jumping exercises. Three qualifying scores gains the CDX title.
  • Then comes the Utility Class which includes a short track, jumping exercises and scent discrimination of articles. In most cases the dog works at a distance from the handler. The heelwork requires your dog to respond to signals but no verbal commands! A dog entitled to bear UD after his or her name has demonstrated an extremely high level of competence, confidence and teamwork. With more trialling and very good qualifying scores, this dog can attain the prefix title of Obedience Champion.
  • The highest competitive level of trialling is the Utility Dog Excellent Class (UDX) in which the dog and handler perform tracking and scent exercises which include high levels of difficulty and involve the dog working at a distance with minimal commands and signals.
  • The great satisfaction felt by handlers who have developed the skills and confidence of their dogs to achieve this hard won title repays all the hard work and practice which is necessary to reach these high levels of achievement. The close bond and mutual respect evident between obedience trained dogs and their handlers is truly something special.

So –
If you think you might like to be part of a rewarding sport that you can share with your canine companion, or if you would simply like your dog to be better behaved and obedient, please be in touch with the Dogs ACT Office and we will set the ball rolling!