Prerequisites: Competency in Intermediate Open-level skills, including a solid retrieve, down from a distance, and off-leash control; permission of the instructor. There will be a list of prerequisite skills that will be tested.
The highest level of obedience competition, Utility requires the most skills, from both dog and handler, producing a Utility Dog (UD) title. Most exercises require the dog to work independently of the handler, demanding confidence, consistency, and motivation. Devotion to task is required of the dog and handler, with many repetitions required to teach these skills.
Utility may be offered in up to three separate classes: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced/UDX. One or more of these levels may be combined, depending upon the number of students training at the Utility level.
Beginning Utility introduces the class exercises:
- signals (stand, down, sit, come)
- scent discrimination (articles)
- directed retrieve (gloves)
- moving stand for examination
- directed jumping, with emphasis on the go-out
Intermediate Utility requires that the team be performing to at least the Graduate Open level on all exercises. Skills are built to the level of ring performance to qualify in Utility.
Advanced Utility may take the form of a UDX class, combining Utility and Open exercises. Dogs must be able to perform complete versions of all exercises in both of those competitive classes. The focus will be on proofing and maintaining skills, with challenges presented that mimic trial situations and more.
A successful Utility dog is an example of dog/human communication in its highest form.