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Developed in the 1930s, Obedience is one of the AKC’s oldest sporting events, and is open to all dogs.

Whether or not you want to compete, every dog owner should consider some form of obedience training.

Obedience training may just be the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and your pet. It teaches your dog appropriate social behavior with both people and animals and helps correct annoying behaviors like jumping, digging, barking, and chewing.

When to Start Training:

The sooner, the better! It’s easier to train a puppy how to act properly than it is to retrain an adult dog who may have already established less-than-ideal behaviors. Still, it’s never too late to train your dog. It just may take a little longer before they adopt new behaviors.


For the dog just getting started in Obedience that can work on- and off-leash. Exercises include:

  • Heel on Leash and Figure Eight — this exercise is performed the same as in the Beginner Novice class.

  • Stand for Examination — for this off-leash exercise the dog must stay in a standing position as its handler walks about 6 feet away. The judge will then lightly touch the dog on the head, body and hindquarters. Like in the Sit for Exam, the dog must not display any resentment.

  • Heel Free — dogs will heel off-leash doing the same routine as they did on-leash, except they will not perform the Figure Eight.

  • Recall — demonstrates that the dog will come to the handler on command.

  • Sit Stay – Get Your Leash — this exercise is to demonstrate that the dog will remain in the sit position, while the handler goes to get the dog’s leash.

  • Group Exercise – Sit & Down Stay — this exercise will demonstrate the dog’s ability to remain in the sit and down position, with other dogs in the ring and is performed on-leash.


This level includes more complicated exercises; the dog must be able to perform a variety of tasks and follow commands either by voice or signal. Exercises include:

  • Heel Free and Figure Eight — this exercise is performed the same as Novice, but the dog is off-leash.

  • Command Discrimination (Stand, Down, Sit) — this exercise is all about the dog responding correctly to the handler’s commands and/or signals. Handlers will be instructed by the judge to stand, down or sit their dog from varying distances. Handlers will be instructed by the judge to have their dog change positions three times. The second and third position change are with the handler 15 and 30 feet from the dog.

  • Drop on Recall — the dog must promptly come to the handler when called from across the ring and on the handler’s command or signal to drop and remain in a down position until on a command or signal from the handler to resume coming to the handler.

  • Retrieve on Flat — demonstrates a dog’s ability to retrieve an object from at least 20 feet promptly and return to the handler on command.

  • Retrieve Over High Jump — the dog must go out over a jump, in order to retrieve a dumbbell and then promptly return to the handler with the dumbbell going back over the jump.

  • Broad Jump — this exercise shows that the dog will stay in the position it is left until directed to jump. The dog must clear the jump on a single command or signal and return to the handler once the jump is complete.

  • Stand Stay – Get Your Leash — – the principal feature of this exercise is that the dog stand and stay in position until the handler has returned to heel position.


This is the next level of obedience competition. Exercises include:

  • Signal Exercise — shows the dog’s ability to understand and correctly respond to the handler’s signal to stand, stay, down, sit and come. No voice commands are given; only hand signals are allowed.

  • Scent Discrimination — this exercise is done twice. Showing the dog’s ability to find the handler’s scent among a pile of articles and promptly return the correct article to the handler.

  • Directed Retrieve — the features of this exercise prove the dog’s ability to follow a directional signal from the handler to retrieve a glove and promptly return it to the handler.

  • Moving Stand and Examination — for this exercise the dog must heel, stand and stay as the handler moves away. The dog must stay and accept an examination by the judge and return to the handler on command.

  • Directed Jumping — the dog must go away from the handler, turn and sit. Then, the dog must clear whichever jump its handler indicates and promptly return to the handler.

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