The American Kennel Club’s definition of Obedience:   “Obedience training is the foundation upon which all canine activities are   based, whether conformation, agility, tracking, search & rescue, service   dogs, fieldwork, etc.

In 1933, when AKC Obedience competition began, the   concept behind obedience training was is to develop a very close working   relationship between human beings and dogs, while demonstrating the usefulness   and enthusiasm of dogs. This concept remains as important today as it was when   the program was developed.

There are several levels of obedience, such as the   long-standing classes of Novice (CD), Open (CDX) and Utility (UD). A higher   level of competition was added in recent years, which includes Utility Excellent   (UDX) and Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH). The newest title is to be awarded to   the winning dog at the National Obedience Invitational. The dog that wins this   AKC National Obedience Invitational becomes the National Obedience Champion   (NOC) for the year. This is the only dog that can carry that   distinction.

AKC Obedience Trials were developed to foster   training, as well as, to demonstrate dogs’ willingness, capabilities and   enjoyment of working with and very closely with humans.

The Sport of Obedience


Obedience Trials demonstrate the usefulness of the purebred dog as a human companion and showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to properly behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs.


Mrs. Helen Whitehouse Walker is credited as the founder of American obedience. To prove the intelligence of her Standard Poodles, Mrs. Walker created a series of obedience exercises based on tests patterned after those held in England under sponsorship of the Associated Sheep, Police Army Dog Society. The first obedience test for all breeds of dogs was held in October 1933 in Mount Kisco, New York.

The Obedience Trial:

In 1936, approximately 200 dogs were entered in 18 licensed tests. In 1997, there were over 2,200 trials, with more than 100,000 dogs competing. Over 10,000 titles were earned by dogs of nearly all breeds.

There are three levels of obedience training, each with their own prescribed sets of exercises:

Novice Class

This is the beginner level. For the Novice level, the dog must do the following:

  • Heel on leash   and complete a figure eight.
  • Stand for examination.
  • Heel free (off the leash).
  • Recall: After staying on command while the handler walks away,   the dog must come and sit facing the handler, then go to heel position.
  • Long Sit: While a dog sits, the handler leaves the dog and walks to the other side of the ring to face the dog. The dog must then stay for one minute, until handler is back in heel position.
  • Long Down: While the dog lies down, the handler leaves the dog and goes to the other side of the ring to face the dog. The dog must then stay for three minutes, until handler is back in heel position.

Open Class

This is the intermediate level, where the dog must:

  • Heel free and complete a figure eight. Drop On Recall: From the heel position, the handler commands the dog to stay, then leaves the dog and walks to the other side of the ring to face the dog. The handler calls the dog to come, then halfway to the handler, the dog must drop down on command. Finally, the handler recalls the dog, who sits and faces the   handler as in the Novice Recall.
  • Retrieve On Flat: On command the dog must retrieve a dumbbell and return to the handler.
  • Retrieve Over High Jump: Dog must go over jump, retrieve dumbbell and return with it, again over the jump.
  • Broad Jump: Dog must stay where left until signaled to jump over two   to four hurdles (depending on the size of the dog), then dog must return to handler as in Novice Recall.
  • Long Sit: Similar to above, except handler walks out of sight and the sit period is longer.
  • Long Down: Similar to above, except handler walks out of sight and dog must remain down for more time.

Utility Class

This is the advanced level, where the dog must:

  • Signal Exercise: Handler signals dog to Heel, Stand, Stay, Drop, Sit and Come.
  • Scent Discrimination: Dog must select handler’s article from among other articles by scent alone, then promptly return the right article to the handler. The dog performs this exercise twice. Once with a metal article and again with a leather article.
  • Directed Retrieve: The handler instructs the dog to stay until directed to retrieve, then the dog must go to   the designated glove, and retrieve it promptly.
  • Moving Stand And Examination: Dog must heel, stand, and stay on command andbe   examined by the judge. The handler then calls the dog to heel position.
  • Directed Jumping: Dog must go away in the direction indicated by the handler, stop, jump as directed, and return as in Recall.

Obedience Links