Obedience for the Beginner

In order to compete in Obedience or any other sporting discipline one must be a member of the State ruling body. If you are not a member of a State ruling body see links to your individual State body (see member clubs).

The GSDCA supports obedience training and competition via its affiliate Clubs and at the National Shows.

Most affiliate member Clubs conduct obedience training sessions for the new owner and new handler as well as for the enthusiast. For information pertaining to these classes please contact your state affiliate Club. Member Clubs also hold Obedience trials connected to their Specialty German Shepherd Dog Shows whereby dogs are able to gain Obedience titles. (see member Clubs).

Obedience Trials

Trial Classes begin at Community Companion Dog level and go to through to Utility Dog Excellent title. Trials are conducted under the rules and regulations of the Australian National Kennel Council.

The trial ring is an excellent place to see the ability and level of obedience GSD’s and their handlers can aspire to and achieve. The rules and regulations and all obedience classes can be viewed on the Dogs Australia (ANKC) website.
This covers all classes, lists of exercises, size of rings, equipment measurements and standard, the points scoring system for the judges and all other requirements for trialling.

Obedience Titles

Titles attainable in obedience are CCD (Community Companion Dog title), CD (Companion Dog title), CDX (Companion Dog Excellent title), UD (Utility Dog title), UDX (Utility Dog Excellent title), and OC (Obedience Champion).

National Trial Results

Past Trial Results of the National Show and Trials are published on the National Shows page with the Archived Show Results.

above: Action from obedience trials


Rally can be described as a combination of Agility and Obedience. A Rally course is set out with numbered stations including a start and finish. Handlers have the opportunity to walk the course to become familiar with it before competing. Participants then navigate the course by following the numbers and carrying out the exercise shown on the sign positioned at each of the numbered stations. Dogs work in the “Heel” position between exercises. At Novice level, dogs negotiate a course having between 10 and 15 signs (not including the start and finish) and work on lead during the test. There is a total of 50 signs gradually increasing in complexity. The higher levels of Rally use up to 20 signs including many of the more complex ones and complete the courses off-lead.

Rally was designed with the average dog owner in mind, as a way to introduce them into the world of dog sports and for people to just have fun with their dog. It is also suitable for accomplished Obedience or Agility triallers. It provides them with another way to interact with their dog, particularly as their dog becomes older and less able to manage some of the more strenuous aspects of those sports.

In Rally, competitors complete the course on their own and are allowed to use multiple hand and verbal cues and can talk to, praise and encourage their dog throughout the performance – it has a far more relaxed atmosphere than other dog sports. Each run is a different series of exercises – you never know what the course will be until you do the preliminary walk through.

Rally Titles

The Rally Classes and titles are – Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE), Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE), Rally Master (RM) and Rally Obedience Champion (R. CH)

Above: Action from a Rally trial

  Dogs Australia (ANKC) Rules and Regulations for Obedience

  Visit the Dogs Australia website

Obedience National Competition and Excellent Awards Competition Rules

For information on the GSDCA National Obedience Competitions

View the relevant nomination Forms. These Include:

  • Member Clubs GSDCA National Obedience Competitions
  • National Competition and Excellent Award Entry Form
  • GSDCA National Teams Event Entry Form

The GSDCA Annual National Obedience Competition

The GSDCA Annual National Obedience Plaque shall be awarded to the best obedience dog and handler gaining the highest aggregate of qualifying scores for each of the CCD, Novice, Open, UD and UDX classes. From the 2016 National Rally Novice, Rally Advanced, Rally Excellent and Rally Master be added to these awards.

The awards will be known as:
  • CCD – “Best Community Companion Dog”
  • CD – “Best Novice Dog”
  • Open – “Best Open Dog”
  • UD – “Best Utility Dog”
  • UDX – “Best Utility Dog Excellent”
  • “Best Rally Novice Dog”
  • “Best Rally Advanced Dog”
  • “Best Rally Excellent Dog”
  • ‘Best Rally Master Dog”

Criteria: General

The competition is open to all owners of ANKC registered pedigree GSD who are financial members of a Member Club of the GSDCA at the time of the competition, and shall be a member of an ANKC Affiliate (State Canine Control) at the time of the competition.

Entry into Competition

  1. The competition shall run from the GSDCA National to the closing date for entries to the next GSDCA National Show and Trial. [2015]
  2. To qualify to enter CCD and Novice do not require GSDCA National participation.
  3. To qualify to enter Open, UD and UDX Competitors must have competed at the previous GSDCA National. Where the National score is non-qualifying, it must still be included as proof of participation.
  4. Competitors shall present clear photocopies of their best qualifying cards to the Obedience Chairperson by the closing date – being no later than the closing date for entries for the GSD National Show and Trial. [2015]
  5. The relevant information on the winning dogs and handlers, Dates of trials, Member Clubs conducting the trials and scores, shall be published in the QNR.


All scores shall be qualifying scores gained at ANKC Sanctioned trials. The winner shall be, for the highest aggregate:

  1. 3 x CCD Scores for the “Best Community Companion Dog” award
  2. 3 x Novice Scores for the “Best Novice Dog” award
  3. 6 x Open Scores for the “Best Open Dog” award
  4. 6 x Utility Scores for the “Best Utility Dog” award
  5. 6 x UDX Scores for the “Best Utility Dog Excellent” award
  6. 3 x Rally Novice scores for the “Best Rally Novice Dog” award
  7. 6 x Rally Advanced scores for the “Best Rally Advanced Dog” award
  8. 6 x Rally Excellent scores for the “Best Rally Excellent” award
  9. 6 x Rally Master scores for the “Best Rally Master” award

In the event of a tie in a section, the winner will be decided by:

  1. The competitor with the highest score at the National, will win,
  2. If still no result, it will be determined by the Highest Score on Count Back Exercises according to the ANKC Obedience rule book,
  3. If still no result, they will each/all be presented with the award for that section.
  4. If there is no qualifier in any of the sections, then the award for that section will not be presented for that year.

View the Award Entry Form

GSDCA Excellent Awards

Inaugurated 1997

Excellent Handler Awards are presented in the following manner :

EXCELLENT HANDLER AWARDS are presented for the Excellent gradings to be achieved in the working aspects of : Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility, in one, or any combination of these disciplines.

BRONZE: 5 Excellents
SILVER: 10 Excellents
GOLD: 20 Excellents

OBEDIENCE EXCELLENTS : These are awarded at all GSD Club Trials by any ANKC Licensed Judge for a qualifying score of 190 or over (95 or over in CCD).

RALLY EXCELLENTS: These are awarded at all GSD Club Trials by any ANKC Licensed Judge for a qualifying score of 95 or over.

AGILITY and JUMPING EXCELLENTS : These will be awarded for 2 clear rounds in Novice, Open and in Masters.

TRACKING/TRACK AND SEARCH DOG EXCELLENTS : These are qualifying certificates issued by any organizing club, with the judge awarding a “pass, EXCELLENT”.

EXCELLENT DOG AWARDS : These are presented to dogs that are awarded 10 Excellents in Obedience/Rally and/or Tracking/TSD and/or Agility/Jumping, in a single or any combination of the 6 disciplines.

BREEDERS’ AWARDS : These will be presented to breeders of dogs that have gained the EXCELLENT DOG AWARD, provided that the dog has gained either an OSAC or Breed Survey Classification.

The National Obedience Competition

View the Rules in the National Trial Manual. In a nutshell:

CCD (Community Companion Dog) Please send in your highest 3 qualifying scores from any trial. No National required as entry.

NOVICE CLASS: Please send in your highest 3 qualifying scores from any trial. No National required as entry.

OPEN and UTILITY and UTILITY DOG EXCELLENT CLASS: The National score, PASS or FAIL, count as an entry into the competition. Competitors will submit any SIX qualifying scores. The highest aggregate wins.

Special Obedience National Teams Event

General Rules:

1. Entry to the teams event is open to Clubs, kennels or groups of individual competitors.
2. Each team must be comprised of four separate dogs, which may come from any class.
3. Each team member must be a member of an affiliated GSDCA club.
4. More than one team may be entered by any one group.
5. Individual dogs may be entered in Open, UD and UDX in three different teams, provided that any class score is counted only once.
6. Team co-ordinator to sign off on rules at time of entry.
7. All scores must be qualifying scores.

Total of three best scores for team.
Four dogs scores will count, lowest score is dropped.
Reserve to be used only if one of nominated team cannot compete.

Please note that the entry form MUST be lodged with the Trial Manager / Secretary prior to the commencement of the obedience trial.

View the National Teams Event Entry Form