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Getting started with dog obedience events

Entering your dog into one of the many local, state, national or even international obedience events is a great way to show off your dog’s talents. These events are often sponsored by breed associations, dog product companies or even marketing firms and agencies. The great thing about these events is that they are usually not limited to only registered or purebred dogs, but rather anyone can enter. Most classes or groups within the competition are either broken down by breed or breed crosses as well as size. This helps keep the competition fair and equal for all types of dogs entering the events. Children can even enter their pets and often special classes for junior handlers are offered. The cost to enter these events is usually very minimal, especially at local level events.

Basic level

Depending on the country you are competing in the events may be slightly different. Overall the basic level of obedience training includes the dog being able to walk on and off a leash with the handler, coming on command, sitting, changing directions while walking without brushing the handler or not paying attention, as well as being able to stand while the judge does a examination of the dog. The dogs will also be required to do a sit and stay exercise as well as a down and stay exercise for a set period of time.


An open level class becomes more challenging to test the ability of the dog to work with the owner completely off the leash. The dogs will work together as a group for some of the exercises and alone for others. The basic requirements are to heel in a figure eight, retrieve an item and drop it on recall, retrieve an item by going over a jump and dropping it in recall, jumping over a broad jump as well as following the sit and down command.

Each dog will also have to do a lengthy three to five minute sit and down with a stay component with the handler out of the ring and out of the dog’s sight.


This is the most challenging of the classes and adds to the above requirements by adding finding specific items touched by the handler in a pile of things, bringing back a specific item on command, following hand signals with no verbal component and complete both a broad and high jump component.

Each obedience class is judge by each dog having a full score when entering the competition. Each variation or mistake by the dog results in a decrease in the score. For most kennel club sanctioned events all dogs start with 200 points and then work with the deductions. The dog that makes the fewest mistakes is considered the champion for that event.

Obedience training is time consuming but highly rewarding for both the dog and the owner. Many owners train their own dogs for events and if you are interested in this fascinating sport plan to attend a few competitions to get a feel for the event and then get involved.

Kelly Marshall

Kelly Marshall is a popular writer - where you can find dog beds, dog steps, pet ramps, and more unique dog gear.

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