Judging obedience

Dog walking forward
Yulia Titovets © / The Kennel Club

Judges at Kennel Club licensed obedience shows are expected to maintain and abide by the highest standards, adhering to The Kennel Club's regulations and the Judges' Code of Best Practice as set out in the Guide for Obedience Judges and Stewards.

All judges should be appropriately experienced and must act honestly and impartially and judge in a customary fashion acceptable to competitors. The overall aim of a judge is to provide value for the time, training, effort and money which the competitors put into their rounds at the show.

How to become an obedience judge

Your first step towards becoming a judge at open and championship obedience shows is to gain experience of judging at a lower level - club matches and competitions, limited obedience shows, companion dog shows, or Young Kennel Club events (other than YKC classes at open obedience shows). You should also ensure that you gain experience of stewarding at obedience shows - acting as a caller or marker steward provides a valuable opportunity to observe an experienced judge at work.

Before you can embark on judging at open or championship shows, you must be fully conversant with the Obedience G Regulations and you must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • You must have won out of beginners at a licensed championship, premier or open obedience show as a handler
  • You must have acted as a caller steward or scribe on at least eight occasions at Kennel Club licensed shows with at least three of which must be as caller steward
  • You must also have attended one of The Kennel Club's obedience regulations and judging procedure seminars and passed the regulations and judging procedure examination (see details below)
  • You must also have attended an obedience test design and the practice of judging seminar

Note: A judge's first three appointments at open or championship shows must be restricted to novice.

There is no minimum interval between appointments to judge classes, other than open class C which a judge cannot judge at more than six shows in any calendar year (January 1 to December 31). Championship judges will be approved to judge only one Obedience Certificate for dogs and/or one Obedience Certificate for bitches in each calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

Obedience seminars and accredited trainers

Judging seminars are most usually hosted by registered clubs and societies, but any individual or group is welcome to organise and host a seminar. The seminar content must be presented by an officially appointed Kennel Club accredited trainer.

Societies, individuals or groups organising a seminar should contact one of the accredited trainers to invite them to conduct the seminar and arrange a suitable venue. Details of upcoming obedience regulations and judging procedure seminars can be found in the seminar diary, or you can contact an accredited trainer for further information.

How to become a championship obedience judge

Once you have been judging for a number of years you may be asked to judge championship class C and award Obedience Certificates. If this is the first time you have awarded Obedience Certificates, it is important to make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • Judges must have at least eight years' judging experience which must include 30 championship and/or open show appointments; of which at least 15 must be open class C and two each of beginners, novice, class A and class B
  • At the time of judging a first championship appointment, the judge must have attended one of The Kennel Club's obedience regulations and judging procedure seminar and passed the regulations and judging procedure examination
  • Judge must have been assessed by a Kennel Club assessor at a class B or open class C appointment
  • The Kennel Club is responsible for the approval of championship obedience judges. All nominations must be submitted to The Kennel Club by the society hosting the show at least nine months before the appointment using the official nomination form

Nominations of first-time championship judges must be submitted at least 18 months before the show date, and preferably even further ahead, accompanied by a completed championship obedience judges' questionnaire. Questionnaires must list future non-championship judging appointments, and the judge will be assessed at one of these before their nomination to judge a championship class is considered.

First appointments

All judging appointments at obedience shows licensed by The Kennel Club must be underpinned by a contract between the society and the judge. Forming a contract requires three stages:

  1. The society must invite the judge in writing, including the wording required in the obedience regulations, and request a written acceptance
  2. The judge should return a written acceptance of the judging appointment
  3. The society should then confirm the judging appointment, again in writing

Three-part contracts should always be in place, even for emergency replacement judges. In the event of a judge or society being in breach of their contract, and unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of the breach, the board of The Kennel Club may impose a fine.

Additional resources

There are a number of resources which you can purchase to help assist you with your judging. 

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