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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
- 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
b. Accuracy and Execution of Movement - 10 marks
- Movements including heelwork are accurately and smoothly
- 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
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
Find more tips and advice on competing successfully on our
Competing in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle page.