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Obedience Rule Changes Coming Soon!

July 2, 2020

Source: Karen Shivers, UKC Program Manager
Email: kshivers@ukcdogs.com

We are pleased to announce highlights for the latest revisions to the UKC Obedience Program. You will find the actual rule changes identified in bold and italic text within the rulebook when it is published. All changes will go into effect January 1, 2021. The entire rulebook has been re-formatted and updated to make it easier to use.


  • Allowance for clubs to schedule a Limited Obedience Trial to be held on the same day as a Rally trial without having to apply for a full Obedience trial under certain conditions.
  • Change to how High in Trial is earned.
  • Addition of Optional Titling classes. These classes are required at all trials except for the Elite class. They are called Optional Titling classes because exhibitors do not have to enter any of the Optional classes. The Optional classes do not require any pre-requisites and have no class divisions (A, B, or C) like the Novice, Open and Utility classes do.

1. New Optional titling classes that will be offered at all trials:

  • Pre-Novice
  • Beginner Novice
  • Advanced Novice
  • Advanced Open
  • Master

2. New Optional titling class that may be offered but not required:

  • Elite Obedience

3. New Non-Licensed classes that may be offered but not required:

  • Veteran
  • Versatility
  • Precision Heeling
  • Pairs
  • Team

Equipment Changes

New Requirements for Clubs Include:

  • Required minimum ring size will be at least 40 x 50 feet for all classes except Elite and Team which will require at least a 50 x 70 feet ring
  • Send away box (like the agility pause box)
  • Pylons or cones: 3 to 5 regular and at least one 18 inches tall
  • Scent boxes (like those used in Nosework)
  • Scent cloths
  • Position cards
  • Stopwatches
  • Food distractions for the Elite class

New Changes for Handlers Include:

  • 6-foot leash required for Pre-Novice, Beginner Novice, Novice, and Advanced Novice classes.
  • Gloves and/or personal scent items will be required for handlers in some upper level classes.
  • Collars may be fancy but must not have any kind of studs (spikes).
  • Dumbbells may be of any color and a stamped/engraved design or initials on the end(s) is allowed.
  • Allowance of metal, leather, or wood for Utility Articles.

Performance Changes

  • Command and/or hand signals allowed for all exercises except the Utility Signal Exercise.
  • Hand position for heeling updated.
  • Addition of a Mandatory 10-point deduction for specific exercises.
  • Allowance of Standard and Minimum Jump height for any dog entered.
  • Removal of all Group Sit exercises.
  • Addition of the Greeting Exercise in Novice, Advanced Novice and Open to replace the Group Sit Exercise.
  • Modifications to the Honor exercise in Novice and Removal of the Honor Exercise in Open.
  • Addition of the Socialized Heeling exercise to replace the Honor exercise in Open.
  • For all Non-Licensed classes except Precision Heeling, handlers may use verbal encouragement, praise, and/or give extra commands during and between exercises.

Optional Titling Classes, Regular Obedience Classes

We are very excited about the revisions and updates to the UKC Obedience program. A sincere thanks and acknowledgement to all the judges, individual exhibitors, and clubs who sent ideas and contributions for consideration as we move forward into 2021.
All exercises performed on a 6-foot leash. Handlers may give extra commands, praise, and talk to their dog between and during all exercises.

  • Heel on Leash
  • Serpentine Loop 3 Cone
  • Sit for Exam
  • Down Stay
  • Straight Recall

    Beginner Novice
    All exercises performed on a 6-foot leash. Specific allowances of extra commands and/or praise during exercises.

  • Heel on Leash & Figure 8
  • Stand or Sit for Exam
  • Down Stay/Walk Away
  • Recall over High Jump
  • Sit Stay

    Greeting exercise replaces the Group Sit and is done individually. Heel on Leash and Honor are done on a 6-foot leash with the handler.

  • Greeting
  • Honor
  • Heel on Leash & Figure 8
  • Stand for Exam
  • Heel Off Leash
  • Recall Over High Jump

    Advanced Novice
    Greeting and Honor exercise like the Novice class.

  • Greeting
  • Honor
  • Heel off Leash & Figure 8
  • Moving Down with Recall
  • Recall over Jump with Dumbbell
  • Recall over Broad Jump

    Greeting exercise like the Advanced Novice class. Addition of Socialized Heeling in place of the Honor exercise.

  • Greeting
  • Heel Off Leash & Figure 8
  • Drop on Recall
  • Retrieve on Flat
  • Retrieve Over High Jump
  • Broad Jump
  • Socialized Heeling

    Advanced Open
    The following new exercises are in this class:

  • Heel Off leash with Moving Exercise
  • Figure 8 with Down Stay
  • Retrieve of an Object
  • Scent Discrimination
  • Directed Retrieve
  • Send Away to Box

    Except for changes to the scoring of certain exercises, all Utility exercises will remain the same.

    The following new exercises are in this class:

  • Seek Back
  • Positions with Recall
  • Send to a Cone and Return
  • Send Away with Dumbbell Retrieve
  • Handler Discrimination

    This is not a required class due to the larger ring size of at least 50 x 70 and can be offered as a stand-alone event. The following new exercises are in this class:

  • Signal Heeling with Moving Stand for Exam
  • Food Refusal
  • Recall with Down and Stand
  • Advanced Directed Retrieve and Jumping
  • Unfamiliar Scent Discrimination

    Non-Licensed Classes

    Brace: Dogs must be coupled together and be similar in size. Exercises will be identical in performance and scoring to the Novice class except that the recall exercise will be performed without a jump.
    Versatility: Will consist of a judges choice of 4 different combinations of exercises from all the Regular and/or Optional Titling classes.
    Precision Heeling: This is strictly a heeling class. Handlers may not use additional praise, commands and/or signals in this class.
    Exercises include:

    • Diagonal Heeling
    • Circle Heeling with Stand
    • Rectangle Heeling
    • Circle Heeling with Down
    • Pattern Heeling

    Pairs: Two handlers and dogs will perform the Novice class exercises except there will be no Greeting or Honor exercise and the Recall over the jump will be replaced with the Drop on Recall exercise as outlined in the non-licensed Team class.
    Team: Ring size for this class must be at least 50 x 70. This class is performed with four dog and handler teams. Exercises will be the same as for the Novice classes except there will be no Greeting exercise and the Recall over the High Jump will be replaced with the Drop on Recall from the Open class. The Stationary Exercises will replace the Honor exercise.

    Complete rules and regulations will be posted in their entirety in the coming days.

  • Guided by the belief that dogs make a difference by being the best partner a human can have in the field, on the job, or in a competition event, UKC is a community for people and dogs to pursue excellence together. Founded in 1898, UKC has been dedicated to enhancing the lives of Dogs That Do More, and their owners, by providing essential resources to help owners and breeders make informed decisions. The dog-human bond is celebrated through family-friendly programs highlighting the instincts and heritage of purebred and mixed-breed dogs alike at over 15,000 licensed events annually.

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