Attending your first obedience competition

Dog sat with head looking up
BeatMedia © / The Kennel Club

After you have attended training sessions, you may like to take the next step into entering an obedience show.

Once you are ready to begin competing in obedience, the first step is to fill out an entry form from a schedule. Find out more below.


A schedule is a small booklet of information which details the show information and includes the entry form. It will list all the classes available, the judges who are judging the classes, the secretary’s information, the class definitions, the venue address and much more.

Entry form

To enter a show, you will need to find your way to the right part of the schedule, which has the entry form. From there you will need to select which class, or classes, you would like to enter - the schedule will always offer detailed definitions of each class. The schedule will let you know how many classes you may enter your dog in at the show.

Signing the entry form is important as it forms the contract between yourself and the show society. If the dog is jointly owned, both owners should sign the entry form unless one of the parties has the written permission of the other to sign on their behalf. By signing, you are declaring that your dog is fit and healthy to take part in the show, and that you will abide by The Kennel Club's rules and regulations.

Before you attend your obedience show

Before you attend the show there are a number of things you should remember to do. 

Checklist of things to do
  • Request a schedule from the secretary or take a look at an online entry system to preview a schedule there and select the class(es) you wish to enter
  • Post your entry form together with your entry fee to the secretary before the closing date or enter your dog online via an online entry system
  • Record details of the show(s) and class(es) entered
  • If your dog is showing any signs of illness, do not take it to the show
  • Prepare a bag containing your leads, water bowls, poop scoop and bags etc.
  • Remember to take your show passes (if appropriate)
  • If you have made a friend at training or know someone who has competed before, ask them to attend with you so you can ask them any questions you may have
Things to take to the show
  • Water bowl and water
  • Food for yourself and your dog
  • Retrieve article, if needed
  • Waterproof clothing (if the show is to be held outdoors)
  • Clothes for the day
  • Money
  • Car park pass, if applicable
  • Entry ticket and pass - please be aware that not all shows issue tickets or passes so you will need to check the schedule to find out
  • Make sure you have made a note of what class(es) you have entered so you are prepared on the day
Booking in at an obedience competition
There will be a list of competitors on the table by the ring and you just need to put a tick by your dog’s name. It is very important that you do this within an hour of the start of judging for the show; otherwise you will not be able to compete. The start time for judging will be stated on the schedule. Next to your dog’s name there will be your competitor number; this will also be on a card on the table, though at some shows this card will be in the secretary’s tent.

This should be worn at all times whilst you are competing. At some shows you will need to write your own number on the blank card supplied.

If you have been selected to be in the running order it is important to be at the ring when judging starts. It may be that not everyone in the running order has booked in so you may have to go in the ring sooner than planned.

What to expect at the show

Here are our tips for ensuring you make the most of the day:

  • Arrive at the venue in plenty of time to find your bearings and book in
  • Keep an eye on the timings so you don't miss your class or running order
  • Speak to fellow competitors and learn more about obedience
  • Look around the event - you will find that there is so much to discover and learn
  • Always clean up after your dog
  • Always leave venues clean and tidy
In the ring
The first thing to remember is to have fun with your dog. You will need to listen to the ring steward’s instructions but make sure you concentrate on your dog. Food is only allowed in the Introductory Class and can only be given where directed. In all the other scheduled classes you are not allowed to take food or a toy in the ring. If you decide you would like to do a practice round in the ring you should ask the judge for permission, then you may take a toy in, but not food. If you do this, be aware of other dogs working in adjacent rings and try not to distract them. When your round is complete, reward your dog outside the ring, again being careful not to disturb others. When looking at your score, remember that judges mark differently, so look at what they thought you did well. Even if your dog did not do all you asked of him, try to see the positive things and know that you will both improve with practice.

Next steps - competing in obedience

So you've attended your first show and now you're a competitor. Learn more about competing in obedience.