Bridging the Gap: An Introduction to Obedience

What's next after basic training with your dog?

Want to take that training to the next level and have fun?

Going forward there are lots of games to learn that are core skills using shaping, targeting, heads-up heeling, turns on the forehand, kickback stands, come when called, drops, backing up and tidy sits. All of them are included here in the Bridging the Gap class, an introduction to Obedience. 

Whether for fun or for future competition, Obedience helps to fine-tune a dog's basic skills and manners as well as developing a long lasting relationship between dog and handler. 

Limit 8 teams

Pre-requisite: Family Manners Foundation

Beginner/Intermediate Level Rally

This class will introduce handler/dog teams to the fun and challenging sport of Rally as well as continue the development of more experienced students.  All exercises in AKC Rally Novice and Intermediate and WCRL Rally Level l, which are performed on leash, will be covered.  You will also learn the rules and regulations of the sport and have fun practicing on real rally courses.  Whether or not you plan to rally on toward your Rally Novice or Level l titles, you and your dog will improve your teamwork and enjoy working together. It is strongly recommended that teams complete Bridging the Gap, Building Blocks, Pre-Competition/Pre-Novice or equivalent before enrolling in this class. Class limit: 8

Building Blocks for Obedience

A lot of attention is paid to the "finished product" of a perfect Obedience or Rally performance. But what are the skills handler and dog need to develop as they work toward this goal? It all starts with the relationship that has been developing between you as you have started training together. Going forward there are lots of games to learn that are really core skills using shaping, targeting, heads-up heeling, turns on the forehand, kickback stands and drops, backing up, tidy sits. All of them are included in the building blocks of Competition Obedience and Rally. Limit 8 teams
Prerequisite: FM Skills or equivalent skill level.

Building Blocks and Beyond

Open to handler and  dog teams which have completed Building Blocks for Obedience or equivalent and want to continue to work toward an Obedience career.

Heel to Success

Attentive heeling is crucial for successful AKC Obedience competition at all levels. In this class, you will lay a solid foundation for Novice and beyond, grounded in attention at heel. Each week we will build on the previous week´s lessons. All Novice exercises will be covered and some exercises from Open and Utility will be introduced.

Skills Introduced: Heeling, Figure 8, Stand for Exam, Recall-fronts & finishes, Group Stays (Sit & Down), Dumbbell retrieve.
Pre-Requisite: FM Skills or equivalent with Instructors approval

Novice Competition

This class will cover Beginner Novice, Novice, and first-level Rally-O competition training. We will work on distractions with stays, distance stays, proofing in heeling, as well as improved heeling techniques. Introduction to dumbbell, if time allows. This is a very fast-paced class, and dogs MUST have good focus and pretty reliable stays. Last day of class we will have a Novice and Beginner Novice run-thru.
Please bring a tug or motivational toy that your dog LOVES and a short, thin leather lead (two or three feet in length) in addition to a six-foot lead. Bring your dumbbell if you already have one.

Prerequisites: Pre-competition/Pre-Novice, or Family Manners Foundation and above.
Exceptions at instructor's discretion.


Starting up a young dog or retraining your current obedience/Rally dog for competition? Emphasis on skills needed for Beginner Novice, Pre-Novice, and Novice Rally competitions. We work on skills to enhance your heeling, dog's attention, and work with Stays. Play training is also incorporated to get the most out of your dog. Training is based on individual´s skills and dog's level. We have tons of fun in this class!

Prerequisite: Must have been through Puppy class and/or FM Foundation or higher level.
Exceptions are made with instructor's approval.


In Competition Obedience, the Novice Class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. This class will prepare you and your dog to compete at the Novice* level, and to earn the title of Companion Dog (CD).Class limit 8.
*AKC also offers the Beginner Novice titling class, which tests a simpler form of these exercises.

Skills Introduced: Heeling, Figure 8, Stand for Exam, Recall, Group Stays (Sit & Down), Dumbbell retrieve.
Pre-Requisite: Introduction to Competition Obedience or Pre-Novice / Pre-Rally

Rally Freestyle

Try out canine musical freestyle, the sport that mixes elements of obedience, rally and agility with creative tricks, all while the dog/handler team moves in harmony to music.  This is a great class for dogs of all ages.  Learn to combine tricks with moving exercises and transitional moves.  Limit 8 teams. 

Skills Introduced: moving together to music; working the dog on different sides of one's body; spins, circles, flips, weaves; simple transitions and combinations. 

Prerequisites: Family Manners Foundation or equivalent.

Rally Freestyle: Novice Courses

This class will prepare you and your dog for Novice Level Rally-FrEe video and live competitions. Learn to string heel, tricks and freestyle moves together as you navigate a rally-style course of 15 signs. Emphasis will be on precision heel positions, fading hand signals, strengthening verbal cues, and keeping your dog motivated while fading food rewards. Novice level signs 1-32 will be used: Rally FrEe Sign Descriptions 

Prerequisites: Rally Freestyle class, Intro to Rally Freestyle, Canine Musical Freestyle 1 class.

Canine Musical Freestyle Drop-in Class

Working on a new routine? Or just hoping to work out the kinks on an old one? Drop in to this class and dance your Saturday nights away with your canine partner! 

Saturdays at 6pm with Jenn, contact Jenn (jenn_michaelis@yahoo.com) about class pricing and registration.

Competition Rally

Each team will work on skills involved with handling both AKC and WCRL courses.

Prerequisite: Entry-level course (Building Blocks, Pre-Competition/Pre-Novice, Bridging the Gap) or equivalent.

Rally Signs and Skills

This is NOT a course work class.  Work on teaching individual sign execution and problems with ring performance (fading food rewards,etc.).

Prerequisite: Current or previous rally class enrollment or equivalent.


The Open Class in Competition Obedience presents a greater challenge to dog and handler. All exercises are performed off leash. Retrieving and jumping challenges are added. This class will prepare you and your dog to compete at the Open level and earn the title of Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)−or simply to enjoy the fun of learning and practicing these complex exercises. Class limit 8.

Skills Introduced: Novice exercises, plus Dumbbell retrieve, Jumps (High & Broad), Drop on Recall.
Pre-Requisite: Novice plus mastery of Dumbbell retrieve. 


The most challenging class in Competition Obedience is the Utility Class, which includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves and directed jumping. This class will prepare you and your dog to compete at the Utility level and earn a Utility Dog (UD) title. Or you can simply enjoy the challenge of training at a high level.

Skills Introduced: Signal exercise, Scent discrimination, Directed Retrieve, Moving Stand, Directed Jumping.
Pre-Requisite: Dog needs to be able to heel off leash and retrieve a dumbbell.

Perches and Platforms for Precision

This class will introduce and flesh out the proper use of training aids, namely perches and platforms, to create and build value in strong, fluent, and precise positions. Learn how to efficiently add verbal cues so that your dog can discriminate between tasks, shape behaviors without handler movement and prompting, and make sure you're using them correctly to get the most benefit out of these extremely valuable training tools. Students may use these tools to work on the behavior of their choice, such as heel, front, distance work, pivots, etc. Once desired behavior is achieved, class will cover how the training aids will be faded and eliminated. 

Breed Handling

This comprehensive class will cover many aspects of Breed Handling that will prepare you and your dog for the show ring.

Some topics to be covered are:

  • Proper ring attire

  • Equipment

  • Ring etiquette and sportsmanship

  • How to show your dog's best attributes to the judge

  • Stacking, gaiting, gait patterns, baiting

  • How to enter Match shows and Point (Dog) shows

  • How to get the best win photos

  • And lot's more

  • Some classes during the session will include "mock" dog show classes and training for wicket measurements. Clicker training is welcomed.

Either register for a full session of classes or drop-in as needed. PCOTC members and non-members are welcome to drop-in.

This class is for all levels of experience.