Levels of Obedience Competition
There are three main levels of obedience competition which are listed here, but there
are several optional titling classes or non-regular (non-titling) classes that you
can choose from if you want to try out different exercises or just for fun! You can
find a complete list of all obedience classes in the AKC Obedience Regulations.
NOVICE – For the dog just getting started in obedience. Exercises include:
• Heel on Leash and Figure Eight – show whether the dog has learned to watch its handler and adjust its pace to stay with the handler.
• Heel Free – The dog and handler perform a heeling pattern for the judge with the dog off-leash.
• Stand for Examination – The dog must stay in a standing position as its handler walks a short distance away. The judge will then lightly touch the dog on the head, the body and the hindquarters. The handler then returns to the dog.
• Recall – Demonstrates that the dog will come to the handler on command.
• Long Sit (1 minute) – The dog must remain sitting in the presence of other dogs while the handler stands across the ring.
• Long Down (3 minutes) – dog must remain in a down position in the presence of other dogs while the handler stands across the ring.
OPEN – The second 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 – Same as Novice, but off leash.
• Drop on Recall - The dog must come to the handler when called from across the ring and on the handler's command or signal drop into a down position and then on command or signal from the handler resume coming to the handler.
• Retrieve on Flat – Demonstrates a dog’s ability to retrieve an object on command.
• Retrieve Over High Jump – The dog must jump over an obstacle in order to retrieve an object and then jump the obstacle again to return it to the handler.
• Broad Jump – This exercise shows that the dog is able to jump a width that is twice as long as the dog is tall.
• Long Sit (3 minutes) – similar to the long sit in Novice, but the position must be held for a longer period of time with the handler out of the dog’s sight.
• Long Down (5 minutes) – dog must remain in a down position with the handler out of sight.
UTILITY – The third and highest 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 – shows the dog’s ability to find the handler’s scent among a pile of articles.
• Directed Retrieve – proves the dog’s ability to follow a directional signal to retrieve a glove and promptly return it to the handler.
• Moving Stand and Examination – 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.