Judging and Scoring FAQ

Who are your judges?
Our judges are all individuals who have titled at high levels of obedience in their own country, and/or who are very familiar with training behaviors using small and measured increases in criteria. Most of our judges are also instructors at FDSA.

How will judges be selected for each video?
Videos will be assigned according to workload, but in a random fashion.

Will I know which judge I have been assigned?
No. Judging will be anonymous.

Do you score the performances?
No, our system is pass/not yet!

Will I receive feedback on my video?
Passing videos will not receive feedback. Videos that are not quite there yet will receive a quick note on where the improvement needs to occur so that you can meet criteria on your next submission.

I submitted a video that is not quite there yet.  Will I receive a chance to re-submit without an additional fee?
No.  Please review criteria for each skill and level carefully BEFORE submitting. Only submit video that meet criteria so that you will earn a passing score! Each video submission is judged; that is what the fee covers.  If you choose to submit a new video, you will also submit another entry fee.

Can I appeal a non-qualifying attempt?
No. Videos are scored carefully using clear criteria for passing/not yet! designations.

How many times may I attempt a level?
As many times as you wish but please – save yourself money and all of us some heartbreak – don’t submit non-qualifying videos!

If I pass may I submit another video and attempt to pass multiple times?
No. There is only one pass per title. In order to ensure that we can review as many videos as possible, only submit a video when you have a passing evaluation. Then train for the next level or work towards your “+”!

What are the criteria for passing a level?
Our program is designed to measure the handler’s ability to achieve excellence in training, not a minimum level of acceptability.  All exercises in all levels must be performed correctly and according to criteria, and all exercises must be attempted.  One non-qualifying exercise per submission is allowed. (Please see the General FAQs for information regarding dogs and handlers who are differently-abled.)   Criteria are stated in the detail sheets exercises for each level.  In levels 1 – 3, accurate heeling and pivots and straight sits will be judged as part of the criteria, in other words, behaviors that would be judged as minor deductions in other organizations.    From level 4 and above, the emphasis is on behavior chains.  Here the same level of precision is not required, and the handler can decide whether or not to maintain their own personal criteria.

The Level, TEAM1-Pre is an exception.  The exercises are the same as for TEAM1, but the competitors may attempt as few as six of the exercises and must pass five.  Criteria for a pass for each exercise remains the same.

What if it’s so close the judge can’t decide?
When it comes to criteria, we try to be as black and white as possible but realistically, that won’t always happen.  Was that a 2 foot backup or 1.5 feet?  Was that sit within 30 degrees or closer to 45 degrees?  Did the handler make a minor error that did not affect the exercise? Because we recognize that criteria can be hard to judge, we allow judges to consider an exercise as “questionable.”  Two “questionable” is the same as one “not yet”.  So if you get two “questionables” and everything else is a clear pass, then you’ll earn your title!  If you have three “questionables,” or a questionable and a “not yet,” then your video will be judged as “not yet” for the title.

I want to do an exercise differently than the sample video demonstrates, and I’m not sure from the written description if it’s ok.  What should I do?
When in doubt, don’t make the judge think!  If you follow the sample video, then you will know that you have performed correctly according to the “spirit” intended for that exercise.  Each judge will decide for themselves if an exercise is correct and meets passing criteria.  The exception is a legitimate reason for being unable to do the exercise as demonstrated in the video.  For example, the handler has a specific disability which needs to be accommodated.  In that instance, please contact us in advance for an acceptable alternative arrangement.

Is is possible to fall short on an exercise even if that specific error is not mentioned in the “non-qualifiers” description?
Yes!  There is no way that we can specify all of the reasons why a dog might fail an exercise, so we list the ones that are most common.   Focus on performing each exercise as described in the written section and according to the sample video.