American Working Terrier Association

Thank you for expressing an interest in the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA). The oldest working terrier organization in the US, the AWTAwas founded in 1971 by Patricia Adams Lent to encourage and promote the breeding, hunting, and ownership of terriers of the correc size, conformation, and character to perform as earth working terriers. In 1972 Dachshunds were accepted by the AWTA and quickly became regulars at the trials. From modest beginnings, the organization has grown to include over two hundred members and holds field trials across the country and throughout the year.
The main objective of the AWTA is to encourage terrier and dachshund owners to venture into the hunt field with their dogs. As an educational aid and to disseminate information to the membership, the quarterly magazine,Down to Earthwill post AWTA trial dates, the latest recipients of certificates, and any other information of relevance to the objectives of theAWTA. A sample copy of Down To Earth is available for $2.00.
By promoting the use of terriers and dachshunds for earthwork and above ground hunting, the American Working Terrier Associationhopes to encourage breeders to retain the hunting instincts that make these breeds so characteristically "terriers". Without the opportunity to test the instincts so vital to these breeds, dachshunds and terriers would cease to be the working dogs they were meant to be; something already too common in many terrier breeds selectively bred for dog shows alone.

AWTA Certificates The AWTA offers three types of Certificates: the Certificate of Gameness (CG), the Hunting certificate(HC), and the Working Certificate (WC). The Certificate of Gameness is issued to dogs qualifying at anAWTA trial in the Open Division. The Hunting Certificate is issued to dogs that are used regularly for hunting over the period of a year. The Working Certificate is issued to dogs qualifying by working approved quarry in a natural den.

AWTA Trials The AWTAholds terrier trials around the country to test dogs in a simulated working environment.Four class divisions are offered:
Novice A is open to dogs and bitches under 12 months of age that have not earned 100% in a Novice Class.
Novice B is open to dogs and bitches 12 months and over that have not earned 100% in a Novice class.
Open is open to all dogs and bitches who have scored 100% in a Novice class or have worked in a natural earth.
Certificate class is open to dogs and bitches that have earned the Certificate of Gameness.
All of the classes use a liner that measures 9" wide by 9" high and is buried in the ground. The length and difficulty of the tunnel increases as the dog moves up to the next level. Work is defined as barking, whining, digging, growling, biting or clawing the bars and or lunging at the cage. An intent silent stare is also acceptable. If this method of work is used the judge must be able to determine to their satisfaction that the dog was indeed working the quarry. The rats are always protected in a sturdy wire cage, with strong bars between the dog and the cage.

Novice Class
The tunnel is 10' long with one ninety-degree turn. The dog is required to reach the quarry within two minutes and must work for 30 seconds without encouragement. This is a class for novice dogs, with the objective being to introduce the dog to the idea of going to ground in a positive manner.
Because this is often the first time the handler or the dog has been exposed to this type of activity, the judge may allow the handler to encourage the dog to enter the earth if he is reluctant. This encouragement is primarily vocal. Never is the handler allowed to push or force the dog into the earth. Once the novice dog reaches the quarry he is sometimes unsure what to do. Again, the judge may allow the handler to encourage the dog, trying to awaken his instincts to work. Encouragement results in a slight loss of points.
Open Class
For dogs that have done some earthwork in a natural setting or have received a 100% score in the Novice Class. The tunnel is 30' long with three ninety-degree turns. The dog is allowed 30 seconds from the time of release to reach the quarry, and must work with no break for 60 seconds. No encouragement by the handler or the judge is allowed.
Because the dogs in this class are presumed to have an idea of what they are doing, the rules are very strictly followed. Once he has released the dog, giving only 1 command, the handler must silently remain at the release point until told by the judge to retrieve his dog. Once the judge has indicated that the handler is to remove the dog he must go to the end where the judge is observing the dog's work to get the dog. At that time he is allowed to praise the dog's work and enthusiasm. If the dog has gotten to the quarry, but not actually worked, the judge will often suggest the handler encourage the terrier, to try to make this a positive learning experience. In those situations the terrier would not qualify, but it is more likely to do better the next time. Each dog that qualifies in this class is awarded a Certificate of Gameness.
Certificate Class
Open to dogs that have earned their CG. This is primarily a chance for those CG dogs (and their owners) to enjoy the game. There are no further titles to be achieved at an AWTA terrier trial.

Other certificates awarded by the AWTA are:

Working Certificate
The WC is awarded to a terrier or dachshund who has worked in a natural earth, (not man made) to one of the following quarry: woodchuck, fox, raccoon, badger, aggressive opossum, or other quarry found acceptable by the trustees on review of an application submitted by a member for earthwork done to that quarry. The dog must enter the earth far enough to be out of sight, work the quarry, causing it to bolt, be drawn, or held at bay until dug to. The sette can not be enlarged by man in order to allow the dog to enter. The owner and witness must be members in good standing of the AWTA. (complete rules for the WC are available)

Hunting Certificate This certificate is awarded to a dog that is regularly used for hunting such game as squirrels, rats, raccoons, opossums, muskrats, rabbits or for flushing &/or retrieving upland birds. The HC can be earned by a dog regularly used to draw quarry from the earth or for working underground on game that does not qualify for a WC, such as rabbits, etc. The handler of the dog must be an AWTA member. The dog must spend a full season hunting and the hunting must have been witnessed by an AWTA member on at least 6 occasions. (Complete rules for the HC are available.)

More information on the AWTA, it's rules and regulations, contact information, and a membership application can be obtained by visiting our website
Whether you are new to the world of earth dog events and earth working or have been active in the sport for years the AWTA has something to offer you. From the quarterly newsletter, to the den trials and fellowship with other dog lovers you will find the AWTA an excellent resource.

New Jersey Beanfield Earthdog Club Website
Hosted by