Heelwork to Music competitions

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Once you are ready to start competing, you can find details of Heelwork to Music Competitions by emailing the Kennel Club to request a list of Competition dates from cat@thekennelclub.org.uk.

Be sure to plan your competition entries well ahead, as entries normally close weeks or months before the competition date.

What the judges are looking for

To give you an idea of what you should include in your Heelwork to Music or Freestyle routines, judges mark all Heelwork to Music performances using the following criteria (revised June 2010):

a. Programme Content - 10 marks

  • The programme content conforms to the definitions for Heelwork to Music or Freestyle and should be varied, with no excessive repetition of movement, and content being appropriate to the routine.
  • Movement should be appropriate to the structure and conformation of the dog.
  • The movements of the dog should have a greater impact than those of the handler.
  • Degree of difficulty of movements should be taken into account.

b. Accuracy and Execution of Movement - 10 marks

  • Movements including heelwork are accurately and smoothly executed.
  • The dog should work in a natural and willing manner.
  • The dog should respond promptly and appropriately to the cues given (including use of props).
  • Bearing and deportment of the handler is appropriate and should be appropriate to the routine; dog and handler should work as a team.

c. Musical Interpretation - 10 marks

  • Interpretation of the rhythm, phrasing and timing should be apparent; the choice of music should suit the team.
  • Choreography should be apparent, flowing and not a series of disjointed moves. The routine should include balance, structure and making best use of available space.
  • Primary emphasis of musical interpretation should be on the dog's movements although the handler should/may be expressive.
  • Handlers' dress and any props used should be suitable and applicable to the interpretation of the routine.


The definitions of Heelwork to Music and Freestyle used by judges are as follows:

a. Heelwork to Music. The principal element of the Heelwork to Music category will be the dog working off lead in the heel work position, on the left or right hand side of the handler, facing forward or backward, across the front or back of the handler, moving in any direction, at any pace. The dog's shoulder should be approximately level with, and reasonably close to the handler's leg. All other positions are defined as Freestyle. A minimum of two thirds of the routine should consist of heel work.

b. Freestyle. A Freestyle routine will be the dog working off lead and contain movements in any position. Heel work as described above is acceptable although such movements must not exceed one third of the routine.


Find more tips and advice on competing successfully on our Competing in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle page. 

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Related Topics

Dog ShowsHeelwork To MusicHTM

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