Downeast Dog News

Training Your Performance Dog

Agility, Obedience, Tracking
By Carolyn Fuhrer | Jan 01, 2018

New Obedience Rules in 2018

There are quite a few new rule changes to the Novice and Open classes in Obedience. The overall general theme that has come to the forefront in the rules is that all dogs be under control. The handler is required to enter and exit the ring with the dog under control and without jumping, pulling or tugging on the leash. Handlers will be penalized according to the seriousness of the misbehavior whether it occurs during or between an exercise or before or after judging. The judge may release the dog from further competition in the class. This, hopefully, will help assure that any dog attending a trial can expect to be in the company of well behaved dogs.

The big changes to the Novice classes are the inclusion of a new exercise – “sit, stay, get your leash” – and the modification of the group exercise. The “sit, stay, get your leash” will occur after the recall. The dog will be in a sit. The orders are “sit your dog” “leave your dog to get your leash”, and “back to your dog”. The handler and dog will be positioned at least 30 feet away from where the leash is placed and facing the gate entrance. The group exercise of Sit, Down, Stay will be performed with dogs spaced 6 feet apart and on a 6-foot lead. There will be a one-minute sit and a return to the dog and then a 1 minute down and a return to the dog. Dogs maybe positioned in 1 row or in back to back rows with 6 feet in between the rows.

Some of the most challenging changes have been put into the Open A, B, and Preferred classes.

The out of sight long sit and down exercises have been eliminated. In place of this is the Stay, Get Your Leash (sit, down). For the first part of this exercise, the judge will have the handler leave the dog in a sit or down. The handler will go at least 30 feet away to a mark and stand and face the dog. After 1 minute, the judge will order “back to your dog”, and the handler will return for the second part of the exercise; the judge will have the handler sit or down the dog, leave the ring to get their leash, and remain at the ring gate facing the dog until told to return.

The most challenging addition to the Open classes are the command discrimination exercises. For Open A, the handler will leave the dog in a stand, go 15 feet away, face the dog, and on the judge’s signal command and/or signal for the dog to down. The handler will then go 30 feet away, turn and face the dog, and upon the judge’s signal command and/or signal the dog to sit. Then, upon the judge’s command, return to the dog. In Open B and Preferred, the order of the positions sit, down, and stand will vary depending upon the order the judge chooses.

The complete description of the new exercises is available at the AKC website.

These rules take effect May 1, 2018. Winter will go quickly with so much to practice!


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 100 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 2 Champion Tracker titles. Carolyn is the owner of North Star Dog Training School in Somerville, Maine. She has been teaching people to understand their dogs for over 25 years. You can contact her with questions, suggestions and ideas for her column by e-mailing