Search Menu

Obedience: Get Started

Take Your First Steps

The best advice is to START TRAINING EARLY! Training a puppy is easier than training an adult dog because a puppy is more open to new ideas and has not yet developed “bad habits.”

While it’s best to start young, the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is only partially true. It is never too late to train your dog, although it may take longer to retrain it to eliminate undesirable habits.

Most AKC clubs conduct a variety of classes instructed by trainers who have won awards in obedience competition with their own dogs, and they make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest training techniques. They have experience training all breeds of dogs and can help solve behavior problems. Most clubs accept all types of dogs, mixed breeds and purebreds, and prospective students are usually welcome to observe a class before signing up for a training course.

When you attend classes with your dog, instructors will show you how to teach it and will expect you to practice at home. The younger the dog, the shorter the practice sessions should be. For the best results, both you and your dog should enjoy frequent short sessions, combined with some play and rewards.

To find AKC clubs in your area that offer training, please visit our Training Resources section.

  • What to Do Before Your First Event +

    • Register your dog with the AKC.
    • Be sure your dog is current on all inoculations and health check-ups.
    • Visit the AKC website to find a local obedience club.
    • Attend obedience classes with your dog.
    • Become familiar with the AKC Obedience Regulations.
    • Attend obedience trials, and become familiar with the ring procedures.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of experienced exhibitors.

  • Tips for the First-Time Spectator +

    • However tempting, do not pet a dog without first asking for and receiving permission.
    • Many obedience trials have vendors and an information booth with helpful information for the general public. Browse, gather information and ask questions.
    • Arrive early, and bring a chair! Obedience often starts very early in the morning.
    • If you have not as yet purchased your dog, speak to exhibitors about their breeds to gain knowledge of the best dog for your family. Also visit the “Buying a Puppy” section of the AKC website.
    • If you bring a baby stroller to an obedience trial, be careful not to run over any dog’s tail. Be sure your child respects the dogs and does not grab or poke at them. Due to space requirements some trials do not allow baby strollers.