In the first level of obedience, called novice, the dog is expected to do a heeling pattern on and off lead, a recall off lead, and a stand for exam, an exercise where the dog must stand still while the judge “pets” the dog with the handler standing six feet away. The last exercise is a sit-stay for one minute, and a down stay for three minutes, with the handler in the ring 30 feet away. To earn a novice title, called a CD, the dog and handler must earn 170 out of 200 points under three different judges.
In the second level, called open, the competition gets more complicated as every exercise is done off lead. A heeling pattern, including a figure 8, is done first. A recall is performed with the dog being asked to do a down stay part of the way back to the handler and then return to the front of the handler. Next is a retrieve of a dumbbell on the flat and over a jump. Finally the dog must jump a “broad jump”, which is a series of flat boards which increase in height, and then must turn and come back to the handler. The dog must successfully complete the exercises under three different judges. Again, the team must earn 170 out of 200 points to pass at each trial. Three successful tries and the team earns a CDX.
In the next level the dog and handler must also perform all exercises off lead. They include a signal exercise, which is a heeling pattern with only hand signals. After heeling the dog is asked to stand, stay, lay down, sit, and come to the handler. No voice signals are used. A directed retrieve is the next exercise. The dog and handler face away from three gloves distributed along the back gate. The judge then indicates which glove the dog is to retrieve. The team turn and face the gloves and the dog is sent to retrieve the glove. The next exercise, called scent discrimination, involves the dog selecting a leather and a metal article out of a pile of articles that has been scented by the handler. In another exercise the dog and handler are also asked to perform a moving stand; the dog heels, the judge says “stand your dog”, and the handler keeps going after signaling the dog to stand. The judge then examines the dog similar to a conformation exam, and the handler asks the dog to come sit by his/her side in a heel position. Finally the dog is sent to a gate and directed to jump either a solid jump or a bar jump and then return to the handler. The dog is sent out to the gate again and then sent to the other jump. Again the team must earn 170 out of 200 points under three different judges to earn a UD title (utility dog).
To earn the next title, the second highest obedience degree, the UDX, the team must pass both Open B and Utility B at ten trials. At this level the exercises can be asked for in any order in each open and utility class. The highest obedience title is called an Obedience Trial Championship. The team must earn 200 points through placements. Like conformation the number of points earned at a show depends on the number of dogs showing. The team must also earn a 1st place in open, a first place in utility, and another first place in either open or utility.