A Refresher on the New Rules
by Karla Deithorn, Executive Field Representative
With the new rules having gone into effect on April 1, 2004, it seems a good
time to clarify the changes for exhibitors, committee members and judges. No,
the rules changes were not an April Fools joke. And yes, the new rulebooks
are available. You can order them online at the AKC website for convenience.
All the changes were proposed by the Earthdog Committee and voted on by the
National Clubs of eligible breeds.
The major change made is in regard to practice at trials. At ALL levels there
is to be NO practice DURING the trial. This means that any activity outside
the defined qualifying performances is NOT allowed. For example, allowing a
dog to work longer than the required time for ANY class; second commands to
enter the earth, except in Master; and physically placing the dog in the den.
This applies to ALL classes, including the non-regular class, Introduction
to Quarry. If a dog enters the den past the allowed time or fails a portion
of the test while IN the den, he may complete the test but under no circumstances
should additional commands or encouragement by the judge be used except as
specified in the Introduction to Quarry rules. The IQ qualifying performance
allows specific help that may be used without causing failure.
In ALL classes, regular and non-regular, the rat cage may NEVER come in contact
with the dog. This includes the Junior class where a difficult removal is not
to be penalized. This particular rule change requires judgement on the part
of the judge as to what will be a qualifying performance. Since Master contains
the new requirement of 15 seconds maximum to remove the dog, judges should
keep this in mind at the lower levels.
You might ask yourself, “If a dog comes 3 seconds late to the quarry
and he does not meet the minimum requirements to pass, does this dog’s
removal problem meet the minimum requirements?”. It is permissible to
use an empty rat cage to aid in the removal of a particularly difficult dog
but keep in mind the aforementioned comparison when considering scoring.
The Senior class remains unchanged. Master however, has a few changes. The
walk up may now be from 100 to 300 yards long. There are specific behaviors
listed in the rulebook that are to be judged on the walk up and the longer
walk up allows the dogs to display these behaviors more readily. On the walk
up the dogs MUST be directed to the empty den. If the dog discovers it on its
own, the judge must still have the handler direct the dog to check out the
One thing that has not changed is the fact that the dog may not work the empty
den. The judge should continue to walk once the empty den has been checked.
The dog should not require numerous commands to leave the den. If the dog fails
to come out and continue the walk up, the dog may be failed if he fails to
reach the main den scent line before the judge. The empty den is unscented
and the dog should readily leave it of his own accord.
Once the dogs find the den entrance and mark it decisively, they should STAY
at the den entrance when the handler goes to retrieve them. The dog should
not walk away from the entrance. This may be considered a failure to mark the
den. Remember that if you are out hunting and the dog walks away from a den,
you would assume there was no quarry present and not stay to work the den.
In Master there is now a 15 second maximum allowable time to remove the dog
from the den “without resistance which results in injury to the handler
or the dog….A collar and leash shall not be attached until after removal.”
All dogs, except dogs with ME titles, are only allowed to enter ONE regular
class (IQ is a non-regular class). ME dogs may enter “more than one regular
As far as the den itself, the rules specifically state that the quarry cage
must be inside “a fully enclosed rigid container open only toward the
working area.” In the Master den, the exit opening at the quarry end
must be 9”X15”; in other classes it may not be smaller, but may
In Master the judge may lay random scent lines on the walk up but they may
not lead to the unscented den or the occupied den. These scent lines may not
be used as the sole criteria for failure on the walk up.
In the main den in Master, the false den or bedding area may be placed at the
first turn. The false exit may be placed at any turn EXCEPT the first turn.
In all classes the dogs must wear a flat collar and a 4’-6’ solid
lead. The handler may walk to the dog up to the release point but the dog may
not pass the release point or it must be failed.
All these rule changes are covered in the new rulebook which can be obtained
online, by mail or with a call to the AKC performance department.
One thing has not changed, AKC Earthdog tests are fun for the dog and handler!