Basic Training & Socialization
Crate Training
Stand for Exam
Training Summary
Canine Good Citizen Test
AKC Obedience Levels & Titles
AKC Tracking Titles
AKC Information
Suggested Books/Videos

Pamphlet Committee

Kathleen Kapaun, Chairman.

Our sincere thanks to the following contributors to this pamphlet: Chris Danker, Debra Sharp, Virginia Graff and Suzanne Deghi.

Prepared and Distributed As A Public Service By The Borzoi Club of America, Inc., October, 1999

Borzoi in Obedience

This pamphlet is intended to provide answers to some of the questions you may have about basic training, obedience competition and tracking with your Borzoi, and provide an overview of the sports.


Your new Borzoi has arrived! Whether your new dog is a pup or an adult, male or female, she must learn a few rules in order to live with you and your family as a well behaved companion. (We will refer to the dog as 'she' in this pamphlet for simplicity. But both males and females make wonderful pets). Obedience training not only helps to develop a bond with your Borzoi, but will make her a pleasure to live with.

The Borzoi was developed centuries ago to hunt wild game. They are classified as "sighthounds" since they primarily use their eyes to locate game for the hunt and chase. In contrast, the "scenthounds" (Beagles, Bassets, Bloodhounds, etc.) primarily use their intense scenting ability to hunt. The Borzoi's combination of great speed and the desire to chase a moving object must be kept in mind when training your Borzoi.

All early training should be done in an area that is secure (i.e., inside your house, an indoor training facility or within a fenced area). If this is not possible, then your Borzoi should not be taken off lead unless a long line is used. The safety of your Borzoi must be your first priority.

Training your Borzoi should be a joy not a job. If you approach obedience with the attitude that it provides an opportunity for you to spend time with your Borzoi and as a means of helping you to learn to communicate, then your Borzoi will respond in kind. The happier and more playful your training sessions, the happier your Borzoi will work. She will learn to enjoy obedience and look forward to the time she spends in training. No matter what method used to train your Borzoi (and there are many...ask 10 people how to train your dog to come and you will receive 10 different answers), consistency is the key word. Be consistent in your commands and the responses you will accept. Positive training methods work best for Borzoi.

Allow a few days for your new Borzoi to become accustomed to her new surroundings, then begin socialization & training in earnest. If she is not crate trained, begin now, as the crate will be useful when you travel with her and when you need to leave her at home alone, or cannot supervise her activity. The crate will help to make housebreaking an easier task and will be a great benefit during the teething stage.

Take your Borzoi on walks through your neighborhood to accustom her to different sights and sounds. Take her for a ride in your car and then let her get out at different places and have strangers greet her. If possible, arrange for your pup to play with other puppies of the same age and size. All of this is the beginning stages of training your Borzoi to become a well adjusted dog whether you are interested in competition or just a family companion.

Plan on taking your Borzoi to obedience class. There are classes offered throughout the country called Kindergarten Puppy Training classes for puppies from 12 - 16 weeks of age up until the dog is 6 months old. The puppies learn basic commands (sit, down, come), learn to walk on different surfaces, through tires, up a few steps and continue to develop their social skills with other puppies all in preparation for adulthood. Remember, the Borzoi pup seems to grow in leaps and bounds and during an awkward growing stage she may not be able to sit promptly on command, or sit on her hip in what is called the "puppy sit." Going into the down position may take longer. Holding a stand may be nearly impossible. Be patient, this long-legged awkward stage will pass and is just part of puppyhood. Another growth period to be aware of, is the teething stage, 4 - 5 months of age. Concentration may waver and what seemed like a simple task the week before, may be impossible the next. Again, this stage will pass. Socialization should still continue during this stage but any intense training should be put on hold. Jumps can be introduced at a young age but an immature dog should NOT be required to jump full height. Puppies can be taught to walk through the side posts, with no boards or bar in place. This accustoms them to the "jump" for future training. Eventually a 2 or 4 inch board can be put in place for the puppy to walk over, do recalls over, or chase and retrieve toys over. Full jump height should not be attempted until the dog is physically mature (about 2 years of age).

Take your older puppy or adult dog to beginner obedience class. Basic commands are taught including heeling, sit, down, and come. Before signing up for any class, go and observe a class or two. Are you comfortable with the instructor? Does he/she have time for each student? A class of 20 or 30 dogs with one instructor is no place to learn and is unfair to you and your dog. Find a class that teaches by positive reinforcement. Stay away from an instructor that teaches by yelling and jerking the dogs by their collars. Borzoi are sensitive and do better with positive training methods.

You, the owner, should train the dog. Do not send her away for obedience training. Teaching your own dog helps develop a bond between you and your Borzoi and increases your enjoyment of owning a well-behaved companion. It is important to practice what you have been shown in class daily. Practice in an environment with little distraction until your Borzoi can respond on your first command. Then slowly add distractions to increase her confidence and reliability on each command. A distraction can be a stuffed toy on the ground next to her when she is doing a down stay, or merely another person standing in the room. The sighthound is alert to each and every change in her environment and it is only fair to increase the level of difficulty slowly and fairly. Be patient. Borzoi seem to work best with short (10-15 minute) but frequent (2-3 times a day) sessions. Training can be included in your daily routine. Have her sit for her food, have her sit while you put on her leash or have her wait while you open the door.


Being comfortable in a crate is relatively easy to teach your Borzoi. Borzoi usually come to enjoy their own little haven. Begin by putting the crate in the room in which you spend the most time with your dog, with the door always open. At meal time, place her food dish in the crate, give your command (i.e., "crate," "kennel up," etc.) and allow her to go in the crate and eat. Don't close the crate door at all initially. After about a week of this procedure, start offering treats throughout the day, combined with your command. As she enters the crate, give the treat. Make sure you praise each time she enters the crate. Begin closing the door when she seems comfortable entering on her own. She must go in on her own; don't force her. Always be consistent with your command and praise. In a short time, she will enjoy her crate time and you will have the peace of mind that she is safe while you are not at home or while traveling with your Borzoi.


Having your Borzoi come when called is one of the most important lessons she will ever learn. To accomplish this, your Borzoi must think that running to you is the most fun she's ever had. To begin, get yourself a long line and a pocketful of really tasty treats. Your choice of treats should be something she doesn't get at any other time, reserved for training time only. Put her on the long line and let her wander and investigate her surroundings. Call her with a very happy "come" and, if necessary, bring her to you with the long line. Each and every time she arrives (whether on her own or with coaxing from the line), it's party time, with praise and goodies. Patience and consistency are very important. Don't be tempted to remove the line for quite some time in your training as Borzoi are very smart at figuring out when a command can't be enforced. The end result of this careful training is a dog that not only comes when called but can't wait to get there. It's well worth the time spent.


The stay concept should be introduced early in your Borzoi's training. Keep in mind, however, she must be old enough to have physical control of her legs and the mental control to handle the stress of this somewhat demotivating exercise. Begin the sit-stay with your Borzoi sitting squarely in heel position. Make sure she is in a comfortable sit position. A Borzoi usually prefers to sit with her tail out behind her. If she is sitting with her tail tucked under her, she is sitting on her tail, which is uncomfortable for most Borzoi. Give the stay command and pivot directly in front of her, standing toe to toe with her. Count to three and, if she has not moved, praise and treat. After you give her a treat, immediately release her. Use a release command, such as "Okay". Make sure you give the food for sitting and staying, not for the release; otherwise, you will only be teaching her to break the exercise. It is important that she be rewarded for maintaining position. You want your Borzoi to learn that she should not move until she hears her release command, so after three or four successful, brief stays, give her a treat but do not release her. Instead, pause a second or two, restraining her with your leash if needed, then give her another treat and release her. Do not continuously repeat the stay command when she is staying; instead, reinforce the good efforts with praise and treats. If she moves, a verbal "ah ah" correction and snugging up of the leash should stop the fidgeting long enough for you to use your praise and food for correct behavior. As your Borzoi becomes more comfortable, you can increase the time you require her to stay. Then you can increase your distance from her. Don't rush; time and distance should not be increased simultaneously. First one, then the other. The down-stay training usually goes much faster for Borzoi due to their enjoyment of that position! Again, make sure your Borzoi is in a comfortable down position before giving the stay command. Your Borzoi may prefer to lie down so she is resting on one hip, or she may prefer to go down and then lay over on one side.


Start with your Borzoi in a sit. Hold food in your right hand and slowly lure her forward just enough to get her to lift her rear. Your Borzoi should move no more than 10 inches. Praise as soon as she is up and give her the treat. Work on this phase until she stands quickly. If she takes more than a step or two forward, you are probably moving your hand too far away from her nose. Once your Borzoi has the idea of standing, you may want to teach the kick-back stand. Sit your Borzoi and stand facing her right side. Put your right foot in front of her front paws to block any forward motion. Hold a piece of food in your right hand by her nose. Command "stand", gently touching her rear toes with your left foot or tickle her tummy with your left hand. Keep your right hand still! Focus on her front feet and, if moving, block them better and move your hand less. Gradually reduce the amount of food you use and increase the number of repetitions before feeding. The kick-back stand, taught properly, is very efficient, presents a nice picture in the ring and eliminates the need for handler fussing and foot placing. Another method is to walk her and then say "stand" as you stop. Teach her to stand while you gently move and position each of her legs. (This is good training for conformation showing). Make sure she is comfortable standing, with all 4 feet placed directly under her. Teach her the stay command, as was done for the sit-stay. Again, first increase time, then distance. While introducing the exam part of the stand exercise, make sure to stay close to her until she is comfortable with people approaching. Add distance in small increments.


There are many ways to teach heeling and volumes have been written to cover this topic. The best way to begin is to find a good instructor, read the many good books on the subject, purchase video tapes and choose the method that seems right for you. One thing is certain; without first teaching your Borzoi to pay attention to you, it will be an uphill battle. Our breed is indeed a sighthound. The "sight" part almost guarantees there will be something interesting to look at in the next ring; the "hound" part may become evident in the "if I feel like it today" attitude. However, your Borzoi trained to be attentive to her handler is better able to overcome these distractions. Once she has learned to play the attention game, the actual heeling work can begin. Space does not permit a step-by-step "how to" in this pamphlet, but remember that heeling is broken down into many parts, as are all obedience exercises. Although heeling seems like a simple exercise, think of all the things a dog must actually learn to do a good job. Your Borzoi must learn where her head and rear should be; with Borzoi, these two parts often times seem unconnected. She must learn to maintain position while going slow and fast, turning left and right and doing about turns. She must learn to weave around a figure 8. She must learn to sit when you halt and sit straight. Each component should be taught separately, then put together as a whole exercise. Easy to see why you've got an advantage with a dog who is attentive. Heeling is the one exercise that will be performed in every level of competition obedience. The Borzoi that never truly understands heel position may get through Novice, but will have a very hard time in the upper classes. It's well worth the effort to teach heeling properly from the beginning.


Again, space does not permit the detailed steps required in training a dog for Open or Utility. Find a good instructor and practice, practice, practice. Training and showing your Borzoi in Obedience can be very fulfilling. Make training fun for your Borzoi. Remember to always be patient and consistent in all you do. Never shout commands; Borzoi seem to hear very well. Never jerk your dog around; Borzoi get their feelings hurt very easily. Never think your Borzoi can't do obedience; Borzoi are smarter than most breeds. Above all, never to too serious; Borzoi love the sound of laughter.


Goals may be different for each of us: a well-behaved companion or a dog who can compete for AKC titles in obedience. Many obedience classes offer a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test as part of their graduation after 2 or 3 eight week training sessions. The CGC consists of 10 tests demonstrating that your dog understands the basic commands and that you, the owner/handler are a responsible dog owner. Precision is not required, but control of and confidence in your dog are. Any class instructor or person knowledgeable in dog behavior can give the CGC test, an AKC licensed judge is not required. Upon passing the CGC test your dog will receive a certificate offered through the AKC. This is not an AKC title but a Certificate of Achievement.


Pre-Novice and Graduate Novice are "non-regular" classes that you can enter for practice and for fun. To earn AKC titles, your Borzoi competes in Novice, Open and Utility classes. Your Borzoi must be registered with the AKC and must be at least 6 month old to enter an AKC obedience trial.

Pre-Novice class is also called the Sub-Novice class, and is for dogs that have not earned a CD title. All exercises are done on lead. Heel on Leash and Figure 8; Stand for Examination, and the Recall are judged individually. The Long Sit (for 1 minute) and the Long Down (for 3 minutes) are judged with a group of dogs.

Graduate Novice class is for dogs who have earned a C.D. title, but who have not earned a CDX title. Exercises are done off-lead, and are similar to the exercises in Open. Heel Free and Figure 8; Moving Stand and Examination, Moving Drop on Recall, Dumbell Recall, and Recall Over Broad Jump are judged individually. The Long Down (for 3 minutes) is judged with a group of dogs and with the handlers out of sight.

AKC titles are earned by receiving a qualifying score (called a "leg") at 3 difference shows under 3 different judges. A qualifying score is a minimum of 170 points out of 200 possible points along with earning at least 50% of the available points for each exercise.

To earn the Companion Dog (CD) Title, enter your Borzoi in Novice. If you have never earned a CD title, you can enter the Novice A class. Otherwise, you must enter the Novice B class. Heel on Leash and Figure 8; Stand for Examination; Heel Free and the Recall are judged individually. The Long Sit (for 1 minute) and the Long Down (for 3 minutes) are judged with a group of dogs that are lined up in the ring with at least 4 feet between each dog.

To earn the Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) Title, enter your Borzoi in Open. A CD title is required to enter this class. The Heel Free and Figure 8, Drop on Recall, Retrieve on the Flat, Retrieve over the High Jump and the Broad Jump are judged individually. The Long Sit (for 3 minutes) and the Long Down (for 5 minutes) with the handlers out of sight are judged with a group of dogs that are lined up in the ring with at least 4 feet between each dog. The height of the jump is equal to the height of the Borzoi at the withers. The width of the broad jump is double the height of the high jump.

To earn the Utility Dog (UD) title, enter your Borzoi in Utility. A CDX title is required to enter this class. All exercises, the Signal Exercise, Scent Discrimination, Directed Retrieve, Moving Stand and Examination, and Directed Jumping are judged individually. The height of the high jump and the bar jump is equal to the height of the Borzoi at the withers with a maximum jump height of 36 inches.

Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) Title: A UD title is required. The dog must earn qualifying scores in both Open B and Utility B at 10 trials.

All the above titles go after the dog's registered name. The OTCH goes in front of the dog's registered name.

The Obedience Title Champion (OTCH) can be earned by dogs who have earned the UD title. The dog must win 100 points. Points are awarded for first, second, third & fourth placements, depending on the number of dogs competing in the class. The dog must also win 3 first placements (at least one in Open B and one in Utility B) under 3 different judges.


Even though the Borzoi is a "sighthound", Borzoi can be trained to recognize and follow human scent. Your Borzoi needs to pass a tracking test only once in order to earn a tracking title offered by AKC. The Tracking Dog (TD); Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX); and Variable Surface Tracking (VST) titles go after the dog's registered name. The Champion Tracker (CT) title, which goes in front of the dog's registered name, is awarded to a dog who earns all three tracking titles. Obedience clubs often hold tracking tests.


Information on obedience & tracking events and rules & requirements for obedience & tracking titles are available on the American Kennel Club web site or write the AKC, 5580 Centerview Drive, Raleigh NC 27606-3390.


This is just a small sample of books and videos that are available:


Arnold, Terry Steppin' Up To Success
Book 1 - Theory, Footwork, Handling and Attention ISBN 1-887290-05-1
Book 2 - Novice ISBN 1-887290-06-0
Book 3 - Open & Utility ISBN 1-887290-07-9

Bauman, Diane L. Beyond Basic Dog Training
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-409-2

Benjamin, Carol Lea Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way To Train Your Dog
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-666-4

Benjamin, Carol Lea Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-742-3

Burnham, Patricia G. Play Training Your Dog
St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-312-61689-9

Cecil, Barbara & Darnell, Gerianne Competitive Obedience Training for the Small Dog
T9E Publishing, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Also available in video - even though the title mentions small dogs, it is excellent reading for owners of any breed.

Fraser, Jacqueline & Ammen, Amy Dual Ring Dog
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-539-0

Monks of New Skete The Art of Raising a Puppy
Little, Brown & Company ISBN 0-316-57839-8
Also available in video

Volhard, Jack & Bartlett, Melissa What All Good Dogs Should Know
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-832-2

Volhard, Joachim & Fisher, Gail Tamsese Training Your Dog
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-775-X
Video also available: Novice, Open & Utility

Volhard, Jack & Wendy Open and Utility Training
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-755-5

Volhard, Jack & Wendy Canine Good Citizen (Second Edition)
Howell Book House ISBN 0-87605-452-1


Ruzzo, Patty Heal Your Heeling
334 Buckley Hill Road, Colchester, CT 06415

Ruzzo, Patty Introduction to Focus, Food and Fun
334 Buckley Hill Road, Colchester CT 06415

Yunck, Adele and Byron, Judy Positively Fetching
JABBY Productions
9794 Mountain View Drive, Waite Hill OH 44904