Advanced Classes

After graduating from a Basic Obedience class, there are many fun things you can do with your dog at CTA. In addition to advanced Obedience classes and a series of Agility classes, CTA offers the following classes too:


Rally is the newest AKC dog sport.  Fun and energizing, Rally is often considered a stepping stone from basic obedience to competitive obedience and Agility.

A Rally course includes ten to twenty stations with an exercise at each station.  Handlers can communicate with their dogs through voice or signals as much as they want.  Judges look for a strong sense of teamwork as the dog and handler work through the course.  The main objective is to train dogs to behave in the home, in public, and around other dogs in a manner that will reflect well on the owner.

Beginner-level teams work on lead, while Advanced and Excellent level dogs are handled off-lead.  Rally stations include exercises such as heeling, halts, and turns, calling the dog front and finishing left or right, moving side step heeling, spiral, figure eight, moving down, stand, pivot, back up, progressing to jumps, and honor exercises. For more information about Rally, see the American Kennel Club’s Getting Started page.

Students who have completed a basic obedience class are eligible for the Rally class.  Whether you plan to compete or not, rally is a fun class that also improves communication between dog and handler.  Each week class will experiment with new exercises and courses.  Classes are often full because everyone enjoys them so much. Rally is offered at both the Beltsville and Davidsonville locations.

Canine Musical Freestyle

Canine Musical Freestyle (sometimes affectionately nicknamed ‘doggie dancing’) is a modern dog sport combining obedience skills, tricks, and artistic movement that allows for creative interaction between dogs and handlers.  The sport has developed into competition forms around the world and has been featured on Television shows and in videos.  Dogs love the experience of learning with an emphasis on fun, and the frequent adaptability to each dog’s physical and/or age-related status.  The goal is to actually illustrate the bond between the dog and handler as they develop a choreographed routine to music.
Freestyle behaviors and routines are ideal for entertainment (such as pet therapy and demos for dog education), competition, or just enjoying time teaching dogs new skills with the additional fun of working to music.
This class currently accepts beginners through advanced students.  The handler/dog teams participate in group exercises as well as receive individual assistance and advice with choreography and music.  Behaviors like spinning, backing, pivoting, weaving, moving laterally, and more are taught on a foundational basis according to the level of training for each individual team. Teams move on to putting these skills together when they are ready and are encouraged to proceed at their own pace.

Pre-requisite:  Dogs must be at least 6 months old and be able to demonstrate basic heeling, attention, and ability to work around other people and dogs.

New Students:
Please contact Darlene for important information before attending the first class at

Also, visit for more info regarding competition.


A dog whose structure and appearance conform closely to its individual written breed standard is said to have good conformation.  Dogs compete for the best conformation against other dogs of their breed in AKC conformation shows. Handling a dog in one of these shows looks easy, but is carefully calculated to show the best attributes of the dog. For more information about conformation shows, see the AKC Conformation website.

Handling Class

The handling class teaches students how to show a dog to its best advantage in the AKC conformation ring.  Students learn about etiquette and the rules of the ring.  Experienced instructors explain the complex AKC point system.

Students will learn the basics of posing their dogs squarely for the judge to observe. This includes “hand stacking” where the handler kneels next to the dog and gently moves the feet into position, and “free stacking”, where the handler stands in front of the dog and the dog is free to stand in a comfortable position.

Students will practice “Gaiting” so the judge can observe the movement and structure of their dogs while moving, and will practice holding their dog’s attention while they are being examined by a stranger.  The class will cover baiting, where food is used to hold the dog’s attention, and the importance of grooming.