Dog Obedience

Description: Youth will learn how to care for, groom, and show their dog.

State Fair Entries: All Exhibitors must be enrolled by May 15 in the Dog Obedience Project to be eligible to compete in the Indiana State Fair 4-H Dog Show. Check State Fair website for entry information. ENTER ONLINE at Be sure to follow appropriate deadlines.

DOG POSTERS: Members may exhibit educational poster in addition to or in place of live animal. See Animal Education Project guidelines.

Exhibit Guidelines:

  1. Dogs must be at least six months old by county fair.
  2. All 4-H dogs must be accompanied by 4-H 671 Certification of Vaccination, signed by a licensed, accredited veterinarian indicating the dog has been vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, rabies, bordella (kennel cough) and parvovirus all administered within one year of exhibiting at county fair. The Certificate must accompany all 4-H dogs at all training sessions and at the Dog Obedience Show.
  3. Certain required vaccinations have not been proven effective in wolf-hybrids, therefore, because wolf-hybrids cannot meet the vaccination requirements of the Indiana Board of Animal Health, wolf-hybrid dogs cannot be shown in the 4-H Dog Program.
  4. A 4-H dog may not attend clinics or exhibit if showing signs of communicable diseases, or internal or external parasites
  5. A dog displaying signs of aggression, or unmanageable to the degree of injuring others, will not be able to participate in clinics or county fair. See page 9 for complete Indiana 4-H Aggressive Dog Policy.
  6. Female dogs in season should not attend clinics nor will they be allowed to participate at the county fair. 4-H members should still attend without their dogs and will not be penalized.
  7. Dogs must wear a well fitted slip or martingale collar made of leather, fabric, or chain to be exhibited in obedience classes. The leash may be of fabric or leather and shall be six feet in length. Gentle Leaders are acceptable for training but are not allowed at Dog Obedience Show or State Fair. All grooming supplies are the responsibility of the 4-H member. Dogs will not be permitted to participate in training or showing events if not accompanied by the proper equipment.  Financial assistance may be available for proper dog equipment.  Please contact Superintendent.
  8. All exhibitors, parents, and spectators are expected to conduct themselves in such a manner as to set a good example for others at the show. Impolite behavior, poor sportsmanship, and/or disruptive actions may cause disqualification and/or cause for removal from the grounds. Excessive and/or inhumane treatment of a 4-H dog by an exhibitor and/or family member will be grounds for disqualification of the 4-H exhibitor.
  9. A member is allowed to train 1 dog per calendar year. A dog being shown in the dog project must belong to the exhibitor or to a member of the immediate family or household, and cannot be leased. Dogs may only be shown by the 4-H member, their sibling, or their parent from May 15 through the Dog Show.  Exhibition by any other individual makes the dog ineligible for State Fair exhibition. See #11 for an exception to this rule.
  10. If a family only has one dog available to show, two or more family members may share a dog only if the members are in different levels. If a family has more than one eligible dog available, members cannot show the same animal.
  11. If for some reason a member cannot have their own dog perform in the show, he or she may complete the project with a poster.
  12. No exhibitor, parent, or dog may have contact with the judges prior to the show. Parents may not have contact with the judge during the show.
  13. A 4-H member may make a request to the dog committee in writing to have their obedience or agility level reevaluated in order to exhibit in a lower or higher division than what would be indicated by the normal classifications. If the committee approves one member, all like 4-H members will have the opportunity to have their level reconsidered by the committee. Committee decision is final.
  14. Special circumstances will be evaluated by the 4-H Dog committee. Written request required. Committee decision is final.
  15. Exhibitors should appear neat and well groomed.
  16. Exhibitors must participate in obedience. Other disciplines are highly recommended, but not required.
  17. No Double Handling. Persons outside the ring are prohibited from any intentional actions designed to affect the performance of a handler or dog being judged in the ring. This applies to persons attempting to improve or to impair a performance. This includes verbal or non-verbal actions.
  18. The Indiana State Fair 4-H Dog Show rules shall prevail for any discrepancies.

 Dog Obedience Classes: (Order of Show at the discretion of Dog Obedience Committee and judges)

  • 1A: 4-Her and dog have no experience.
  • 1B: 4-Her with previous experience and new dog. Or 4-Her without experience, and dog with experience.
  • 2A: 4-Her and dog which have completed Div. 1A or 1B.
  • 2B: 4-Her and dog which have completed 2A. (May repeat until ready to move up).
  • 3A: 4-Her and dog which have completed Div. 2B.
  • 3B: 4-Her and dog which have completed Div. 3A. (May repeat until ready to move up).
  • 4A: 4-Her and dog which have completed 3rd year.
  • 4B: 4-Her and dog which have completed 3rd year but not ready for fifth year work. (May repeat until ready to move up).
  • 5A: 4-Her and dog which have completed 4th year work.
  • 5B: 4-Her and dog which have spent a year in 5A but not ready for 6th year. (May repeat until ready to move up).
  • 6A: 4-Her and dog which have completed 5th year work.
  • 6B: 4-Her and dog which have spent a year in 6A. Division may be repeated.
  • Veterans (Repeatable): For 4-H members whose dogs are at least seven (7) years old or are physically challenged. The dog must have completed at least class 2B in previous years. Dogs that are physically challenged must be accompanied by a letter from a veterinarian stating that the dog is unable to perform jumping and/or retrieving exercises. A dog may not be shown in any other obedience class at the Newton County Punkin’ Vine Fair, once they have competed in the Veterans Class.

Showmanship - Grades determined as of January 1 of the current year. 

Junior Showmanship: Grades 3-5

Intermediate Showmanship: Grades 6-8

Senior Shomanship: Grades 9 and above

Agility – Agility is limited to levels 1B or higher.

  1. Dogs showing in agility at the Indiana State Fair are required to have shown in obedience at the current State Fair, and must be at least 1 year old on day of show.
  2. Agility section/classes will be entered as Beginning Intermediate, Advanced and Excellence. Dogs may be measured at the show to verify accuracy of height.
  3. Each class will offer four (4) divisions based on the dog’s height at the withers Dogs 7 years and over (Veterans) may jump one jump height lower than their actual height. 
  • Division Toy – dogs up to and including 10” will jump 4” hurdles (note: there is a 4-inch variance allowed on table height for Toy Dogs; so the table may range from 0-8 inches)
  • Division 1 – dogs over 10” and up to and including 14” will jump 8” hurdles.
  • Division 2 – dogs over 14” through 20” will jump 14” hurdles.
  • Division 3 – dogs over 20” will jump 20” hurdles.

The Pause Table will be at the hurdle height for each division.

  1. All agility work will be done on a flat, buckle or quick release collar.
  • Collar tags will not be allowed.
  1. Once all paws have touched contact equipment, the dog must either complete the obstacle or move to the next one. No additional attempts will be allowed.
  2. If a dog fouls in the ring during the walk through there will be a 10 point deduction in the agility score. If a dog fouls in the ring during the scored run, it will be excused immediately.

In Agility, dogs with qualifying scores will place ahead of dogs with non-qualifying scores.  In agility, dogs must successfully complete each obstacle on the course to receive a qualifying score.

 Just for Fun Classes. County level only. A member may participate in one or both Just for Fun classes.

  • Costume Class – Dress yourself and your dog to the theme of your choice.
  • Trick Class – Demonstrate a trick you have taught your dog.

 Indiana 4-H Aggressive Dog Policy: The safety and well‐being of 4‐H members and volunteers is a primary concern with all Indiana 4‐H Program opportunities. Families should err on the side of caution in selecting a dog for the 4‐H member to exhibit. A dog that has a known history of aggression or biting is not appropriate for involvement in the 4‐H Program. On occasion, the 4‐H member may have difficulty managing their dog within the 4‐H Program. The following guidance has been provided for the Indiana 4‐H Dog Program as the owner/exhibitor of the dog bears responsibility for the dog’s actions. In the subsequent policy, the term “4‐H Dog Personnel” will include County 4‐H Volunteers, County Extension Educators, State 4‐H Staff and appropriate County and State Fair Directors.

A dog that bites a human or another dog at any 4‐H Dog Event must be immediately removed from that event by the 4‐H member and will subsequently be excused from the 4‐H Program. The member should be directed by 4‐H Dog Personnel on‐site to remove the dog if the member does not do so willingly. If a determination is made by the 4‐H Dog Personnel that a dog bit in self‐defense, it may be allowed to remain at the 4‐H Dog Event.

 Dogs that display other signs of aggression, including but not limited to barking and standing ground, growling, lunging and snapping will be given one verbal warning. They will be removed from the event after the second violation at the same event. To be removed from a 4‐H Dog Event, there must be two violations at the same event.

 Any dog that is removed from a 4‐H Dog Event due to aggressive behavior will be placed on probation for 2 weeks. Written notification of the probation will be given to the 4‐H member. The 2‐week period will start upon written notification to the 4‐H member. While on probation, the 4‐H Dog Personnel and the 4‐H member and parents will work together to determine the best course of action for the dog. This may include (but is not limited to) working individually with the dog and 4‐H member, asking the 4‐H member to use a different dog or having the 4‐H member attend events without their dog. At the end of the designated probation period, 4‐H Dog Personnel will make a determination regarding the dog’s return to 4‐H Dog Events.

Dogs that are removed from a 4‐H Dog Event twice will be immediately excused from the 4‐H program and will not be allowed to re‐enter. Excusing a dog from the 4‐H Program is rare but could be necessary for the safety of 4‐H members, volunteers and other participating dogs. Should a dog be excused from the program, it must be remembered that the action is against the dog and not the 4‐H member. 4‐H Dog Personnel should look at many solutions and encourage the 4‐H member to attend classes without their dog while training it at home or potentially bringing another dog to 4‐H events. 4‐H members will always be welcome in every other part of the dog project.

In the event that a dog is removed from a 4‐H Dog Event or excused from the 4‐H Program, 4‐H Dog Personnel should report such to the State 4‐H Office so that the information is available to all county 4‐H dog programs and the Indiana State Fair.


The Ohio State University Extension - Dog Resource Handbook 4-H201R