Please read the INTRODUCTION before you start working. Be sure your dog has passed the Level One behavioursLevel Two behavioursLevel Three behavioursLevel Four behavioursLevel Five behaviours, and Level Six behaviours before starting Level Seven.

This colour indicates behaviours that are mandatory.

This colour indicates behaviours that must be done without food, clicker or other training aid, in a ring or similar.

This colour indicates behaviours that are optional. In Level Seven a dog must pass 10 of the 16 optional behaviours. Pick your optional behaviours with an eye to what sports you’re aiming your dog for, or whatever looks like it would be a fun and interesting behaviour to teach your dog.

JUMP – HIGH Dog performs the full Retrieve Over the High Jump exercise. This is an optional behaviour that must be performed with no food or clicker in the ring or area. DISCUSSION: Here we have the complete, formal exercise just as it would be done in the Obedience ring.

ON THE ROAD The dog must pass the Level Five tests in a strange location.

RETRIEVE Dog performs an 80’ Retrieve of any object. Appropriate cues. DISCUSSION: At 80′ in grass, the dog might not even be able to see the object. She has to go a long way on faith to give you a solid, correct behaviour.

SCENT Dog finds a hidden article in the ring. Appropriate cues. This is an optional behaviour. DISCUSSION: Rainy, nasty days don’t have to be boring. Hide some food and toys around the house and entertain yourself AND your dog!

SIT The dog Sits from Down on signal in line. This is an optional behaviour. DISCUSSION: This is part of the official obedience Signal exercise. By “in line” I mean with other signal cues you’ve taught her. The entire formal Signal exercise goes: Heel, Stand, Stay, Down, Sit, Come, Finish. You don’t have to do the entire set here, but get in at least two signals before the Sit.

SIT STAY Dog performs a full out of sight Sit Stay for three minutes. Appropriate cues. This is an optional behaviour. DISCUSSION: The full competition behaviour. Many trainers put an enormous amount of work into producing an excellent working obedience dog, only to have them fail repeatedly at the out of sight SitStay. Maybe people with the energy to get to Open don’t want to bother working the duration?

STAND Dog Stands from Down with handler 10’ away, two cues only allowed. This is an optional behaviour. DISCUSSION: This behaviour isn’t part of any competition, but an interesting test of your ability to add distance to a cued behaviour.

STAND STAY The dog performs a full Group Examination for three minutes with the handler 20’ away. Appropriate cues. This is an optional behaviour that must be performed with no food or clicker in the ring or area. DISCUSSION: An easy continuation of the Level 6 behaviour.

TARGET Dog does a straight go-back to pawtouch a wall 40’ away with two cues maximum. This is an optional behaviour. DISCUSSION: A 40′ Go Back, fast, straight, and enthusiastic. You’ll get compliments for this one!

TRICK Tableau of at least 3 tricks, one following another to tell a story (eg, a “broken leg”, bad temperament, “shooting” the dog, followed by the dog “dying”). DISCUSSION: You might not even need to teach anything new to the dog for this Level, just use your imagination to put three tricks together. I saw a cute one recently. The dog had several good tricks, followed by the question “When you get to Hollywood, are you going to be a snob?”, whereupon the dog flipped his nose up in the air and held it there.

WATCH Dog holds contact for 15 seconds, one cue only, handler does not watch the dog. This behaviour must be performed with no food or clicker in the ring or area. DISCUSSION: This would be an easy behaviour as well, but we’ve added “no food” to the equation. By now, we’re expecting eye contact as a default behaviour. I enjoy having people tell me they have good eye contact, when they mean their dog will occasionally hold contact for five or six seconds. Then I give them Scuba and have them work her for a while. You can almost HEAR her eyes locking on. The response is usually “Wow, I had no idea!”

When you get this far, take yourself and your dog out to supper – you deserve it!