The purpose of the ASCA Stockdog Program is to preserve and promote the instinct of the Australian Shepherd to be a versatile stockdog, showcasing the natural working ability of the breed through the use of certification programs for challenging trialing disciplines on several classes of stock. ASCA has a stockdog rule book which is updated bi-annually; the rulebook may be ordered from the ASCA business office. ASCA also has a Stockdog Committee to oversee the program and questions can be directed to this Committee with regard to the function and purpose of this Program.
Divisions in ASCA sanctioned trials are offered for three levels of training on three classes of stock. The started division gives the dog and handler a place to begin and gain experience. Dogs must progress from started through open and then on to advanced on three classes of stock (cattle, sheep and ducks), earning two legs under two different judges at each level and on each class of stock, to earn a working trial championship. Started title is designated as a STD, open as OTD, and advanced as ATD. Small letters following a title of c, s, or d indicate cattle, sheep or ducks. A post advanced title for dogs earning two legs under two different judges is designated as PATD with, as applicable, small letters of c or s indicating the class of stock. Through yearly competition dogs may qualify to enter the National Finals, and qualifications are spelled out in the Stockdog rule book, along with opportunities to earn merit awards.
Trials also offer classes for Novice handlers, as well as the opportunity for any dog and handler to trial for exhibition only. ASCA has Trialing Guidelines and encourages participants in its Stockdog Program to order these; they are a great resource tool for the handler new to trialing.
Because ASCA remains dedicated to the original purpose of the breed, Australian Shepherds may qualify to earn the working title of Ranch Dog (RD) if they sufficiently demonstrate to an ASCA stockdog judge their capability to serve as a daily working ranch dog by assisting their owners with livestock on working ranches and farms. The ASCA trialing program also showcases the ASCA approved herding breeds in their sanctioned Ranch Trials, where these dogs have the opportunity to pick up a qualifying leg and earn a working title of Ranch Trial Dog (RTD) on sheep or cattle.
The Stockdog Program was established to promote the Australian Shepherd, recognize and reward these dogs as applicable in a structured working environment, designed to encourage the beginning dog and handler and to challenge the advanced dog and handler. The Program showcases, preserves, encourages, retains, challenges, and rewards the WORKING Australian Shepherd.
The ASCA stockdog program is also open to other breeds recognized as herding dogs by ASCA in their Stockdog rule book. These other breeds have the opportunity to earn ASCA titles at any ASCA sanctioned stockdog trial but may not qualify or compete for merit awards or the ASCA Stockdog finals.