Dog Obedience Clubs
   of Florida

What is Competition Obedience all about?

Competition obedience is first and foremost about having a dog that lives well in the home and in public. Developed in the 1930s, Obedience is one of the AKC’s oldest sporting events. From walking on and off-leash to retrieving and jumping, or demonstrating your dog’s ability to stay, Obedience trials feature dogs that are well-behaved at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. It is essential that the obedience dog demonstrates willingness and enjoyment while it is working with the handler.

Whether or not you want to compete, every dog owner should consider some form of obedience training. It’s the best way to establish good communication skills between you and your dog and to make sure that your dog is the most well-behaved one in your neighborhood!

Competition Obedience begins with training. In American Kennel Club Obedience from which almost all the DOCOF Clubs and organizations derive, there are three main levels or titles that owners and handlers seek. In each level there are exercises that the team must perform. The team begins with 200 points and errors result in points deducted. In order to qualify at a show (called a Trial) the team must keep more than 170 points and more than 50% of the points available in each exercise.

The Regular Classes are:


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 — done off leash.
  • Stand for Examination — is of great benefit when the dog needs hands-on care by a veterinarian.
  • Recall — provides the handler with the ability to call the dog and get an immediate response at all times.
  • Stay Get You Leash - The dog must stay while the handler retrieves and attaches its leash.
  • Long Sit (1 minute) — allows the handler to have control of the dog when visitors come to the home.
  • Long Down (1 minutes) — dog must remain in a down position.


The second level includes more complicated exercises, which teach the dog to do a variety of tasks and to follow commands either by voice or signal. Exercises include:

  • Heel Free and Figure Eight — Same as Novice, but off leash.
  • Drop on Recall — can be a lifesaving command for a dog, since it gives the handler control in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Retrieve on Flat
  • Retrieve Over High Jump
  • Broad Jump
  • Command Discrimination - the dog must stay and the handler goes 15 ft away and on the judges order, commands the dog to sit, down or stand. The handler then goes 15 more feet and the handler commands the dog to sit, down or stand.
  • Sit Stay Get You Leash - The dog must stay while the handler leaves to a designated spot and remains there for 1 minute and until the judge order them to return to their dog.  The handler then leaves the dog and retrieves and attaches its leash.


The third and highest level of regular 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.
           Click Here to see a Utility Performance

Role of the Judge

The judge must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the class. Judges are not permitted to inject personal variations into the exercises, but must see that each handler and dog execute the various exercises exactly as described in the AKC Obedience Regulations. The judge must carry a mental picture of the theoretically perfect performance in each exercise and score each dog and handler against this standard.

A qualifying score in the judge’s book is his or her certification that the dog has satisfactorily performed all the required exercises. The judge will not disclose the scores until the conclusion of the judging, but will immediately inform a handler after the group exercises (or immediately following the last exercise in Utility) if his or her dog received a qualifying score.

Click Here to see an example of a judge's score sheet.

At the end of the judging and after all scores have been recorded, the judge will call qualifying dogs back into the ring and will announce the scores of each of the four placements.

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