Obedience Show Administration

Open, Limited and Championship Obedience Shows are licensed by the Kennel Club and run by registered clubs and societies. Before running a Championship Show, at which Obedience Certificates ("tickets") are given out, the society must have applied to and been approved by the Kennel Club for Championship Status. 

Obedience Events

Limited Obedience Shows can have their entries restricted by the following conditions at the societies choice: entries from members of the society only, competitors from within a specific area only, entries from specific breeds only, a defined number of entries or by other conditions subject to approval by the Board of the Kennel Club. Societies running Limited Obedience Shows will be fully registered organisations.          

Championship Obedience Shows are the most prestigious show offered by KC clubs with the highest standards expected. Societies running Championship shows will be fully registered organisations only.               

Open Obedience Shows can have any number of standard or special classes, except for qualifying heats for KC competitions.  Societies running Open Obedience Shows will be fully registered organisations.

Special Events

When an Obedience show  is holding a non-scheduled final, and finalists have been invited to attend, special permission is required. This is to ensure that those competing in the final are safeguarded should any problems arise.  Applications for permission to hold Special Events must be made at least 6 months prior to the event, except when a series of qualifying heats are held prior to a Special Event Final, in which instance permission must be granted prior to any of the heats being held. For further information regarding the requirements for Special Events, please email cat@thekennelclub.org.uk.

Societies setting up and running Obedience shows need to address a number of main tasks:

  • Nominate a Show Secretary, Chief Steward and (optionally) a Show Manager as well as a Show Committee (the Chief Steward may not enter or compete at the show). The Kennel Club Obedience Chief Stewards Guidance Booklet is available to download.
  • Decide on a date, a venue and the number and type of classes to be run. Most Societies run their shows in the same week in each year. To avoid date clashes, a list of shows can be obtained from Canine Activities, or by phoning 01296 318540 Ext 295
  • Provisionally book the intended venue (for new venues consider venue size, surface, road access and availability of water, power and waste disposal).

Set up the show

  • Obtain a licence: first apply in writing to the Kennel Club's Show Diary section for the desired competition date (use club headed stationery), or email Canine Activities ideally 18 months or more ahead of the show date; once the date has been checked and agreed, a licence application will be issued to the club, which must be returned with the appropriate fee no later than 6 months before the date of the competition.
  • For any new club wishing to hold an Open or Championship Show or existing clubs or societies that have made changes to the structure of their committee, a  Guarantors' declaration must be completed and returned to the Kennel Club.
  • Confirm the venue and check any conditions of use and cancellation terms.
  • Advertise the show date.
  • Draw up a budget.
  • Book your show processors (if used) and online entries service (if used), and catalogue and schedule printers (if used).
  • Draw up a provisional ring plan, allocating classes to rings on the basis of estimated numbers of entries. Bear in mind the need for a stay ring of adequate size for the expected entry and consider whether dogs and bitches are to be split or mixed.
  • Identify suitably qualified and experienced judges for all classes.
  • Judges should be invited in writing, and asked to accept in writing; the club should then confirm the appointment in writing to form a three-part contract, except in Championship classes where Kennel Club approval must be obtained first - see the Obedience Judges Section  for details.
  • Book trophy, rosette and prize card suppliers, caterers and veterinary cover; order score sheets.
  • Book hired facilities if required, such as ring markers and ropes, signs, skips, toilets, PA system, 'walkie-talkie' radios, tables and chairs, marquees, score tents, fire extinguishers.

Administration before the Show

  • Prepare and distribute a show schedule, using the appropriate  Open, Limited or Championship Agility Show Specimen Schedule as a basis.
  • Distribute the schedule as widely as possible, using the dog press, Obedience websites, the Kennel Club Journal, and other Obedience shows.
  • Invite trade stands if applicable.
  • Prepare a risk assessment (see the Sample Risk Assessment  form for guidance) and develop a safety plan to minimise risks.
  • Arrange adequate public liability insurance - the certificate must be displayed at the competition, with the Kennel Club licence.
  • Appoint chief stay steward and ring stewards where needed. Allocate tasks such as parking control, PA system announcers, results processing, prize presentations, ring refreshments and judges and helpers lunches, car park checks for hot dogs, signage and equipment management.

After entries close

  • Once entries have closed, finalise the ring plan, splitting classes where numbers of entries make it advisable (50 or more except Championship Class 'C' which may not be split). Ensure no class exceeds 60 dogs.
  • (Championship shows only) Send final, checked lists of entries for the Championship Class 'C' Dog and Bitch classes to the WDA team at the Kennel Club for a running order draw to be made. Please send the lists in Excel by email.
  • Inform judges of their entries and the breeds entered, especially in classes 'B' and 'C', to ensure suitability of test design and retrieve article.
  • Prepare the show catalogue information including competitor details and classes and send information to the show's printers if used (including Championship Class 'C' running orders advised by the Kennel Club).
  • Conduct a random draw for running orders in relevant (non-Championship) classes, and notify all competitors by post of their running orders and the ring plan (show processors/printers will generally do this for you while preparing the catalogue).
  • Prepare a stewards list to ensure efficient use of club and volunteer helpers; ensure all rings have sufficient stewards where judges are not bringing their own teams and that enough stay stewards and scent decoy stewards are available.
  • Confirm to suppliers the numbers of trophies, rosettes and prize cards, catering and refreshment requirements, ring equipment etc.
  • Finalise ground plan for rings, parking, camping if applicable, trade stands and secretary's tent.

At the show

  • Ensure copies of the Regulations, all entry forms, copies of the show schedule and catalogue, the competition licence, insurance certificate, awards, neutral and decoy scent cloths, judges correspondence, spectator dog entry form booklets and an official Kennel Club incident book (available free on request via cat@thekennelclub.org.uk at the Kennel Club) are taken to the show.
  • Within 14 days of the end of the show, send a fully updated and accurate copy of the catalogue, with all awards marked in, to the Awards Department at the Kennel Club.
  • Within two weeks, report to the Kennel Club if there were any incidents requiring a report (for example biting/aggression incidents, formal objections/complaints, changes of judging arrangements, cancellation or abandonment.

These should be logged in the incident book and sent to the Kennel Club. More information on filling out the incident book can be found here.

NOTE: The above list gives an idea of general timescales but many individual tasks will be done in a different order from that above depending on circumstances.

Cancellation/Postponement of Event

If a society has to cancel its event the Secretary must contact the Working Dog Activities Department at the Kennel Club as soon as the decision to cancel has been made.  Contact can be made via email; cat@thekennelclub.org.uk or 01296 318540 (ext. 295 or 207). For more information about what is required when a society cancels/postpones an event, please click here.


Society Committees must ensure that they have adequate cover for all the Society's activities. Kennel Club Insurance cover is specifically designed for canine clubs or societies, including public and products liability and directors' and officers' liability insurance at a competitive price. For more information about insurance visit www.kcclubsandtrainersinsurance.org.uk


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