Obedience trials test an Italian Greyhound’s ability to perform a set of exercises. In each exercise,
a dog/handler team must score more than 50% of the possible points and accumulate a total score (for all of the exercises) of at least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog scores the 170 qualifying score, he has gotten a “leg” toward his title. After three legs, your dog has become an obedience titled Italian Greyhound. There are three levels at which your dog can earn a title with the levels increasing in difficulty. The three levels of competition are Novice, Open and Utility. The first level, Novice, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog (CD) title. Your dog will have to heel both on and off leash at different speeds, come when called, and stay still for a simple physical examination and with a group of other dogs. The second level, Open, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title. At this level, the leash is off and jumping and retrieving exercises are added. The final level, Utility, results in your dog earning a Utility Dog (UD) title. The exercises at this level are the most difficult and require a “thinking” dog. In addition to the jumping exercises, the dog must now also perform scent discrimination tasks.
An Italian Greyhound can be successfully campaigned in the obedience ring. While he is a sighthound and most certainly not as easily trained as most of the herding and sporting dogs one sees in the ring, working an Italian Greyhound can be a challenging and rewarding experience. He is a thinking dog and thinking dogs require thinking handlers. The old method of putting a choke collar on a dog and jerking on his neck for corrections will not work and would be detrimental to an Italian Greyhound. After an Italian Greyhound has learned an exercise, there is usually a reason why he may not perform it in the ring. A thinking trainer will analyze the situation and come to some understanding before correcting the dog.
An IG may never score a perfect 200, but some have scored as high as 199 1/2. Several factors may affect the ability of an IG to achieve an extremely high score. If an IG is looking up at his handler he will often turn his legs to the outside to better balance himself. This may make it appear that they are sitting crookedly, which requires a deduction from their score. Also, with his aloof nature and being a creature of comfort, he will quite often not want to “down” on a cold or uncomfortable surface. Most obedience shows are held in cool places to better accommodate the breeds with coat and an IG finds this extremely uncomfortable and unrefined. He would much rather be on a beach lying in the sun with a nice cool drink beside him!
This author has trained IG’s and found it to be a very rewarding experience. There is mutual respect and admiration between the animal and the human. Training an IG will certainly give the trainer more of an appreciation for the charm and wisdom of this delightful little creature.
If you would like more information on obedience training, information about the obedience rules, and to locate training clubs in your area, contact the American Kennel Club (AKC).