Obedience secretary information

Dog laying down
Yulia Titovets © / The Kennel Club

Being an obedience show secretary requires a large amount of work and administration to be undertaken. This section contains the information and guidance that you'll need to help you. Secretaries should be aware that changes and developments are made to the activity throughout the year, so please keep an eye out for these. 

Notice to clubs/societies

Read more about the operational plan for the resumption of licensed events during Covid-19.

Obedience events

Limited obedience shows 

These 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

These are the most prestigious shows offered by registered clubs with the highest standards expected. Societies running championship shows will be fully registered organisations only. Societies must apply to The Kennel Club for championship status before holding a championship show.

Open obedience shows

These shows can have any number of standard or special classes, except for qualifying heats for The Kennel Club's 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 six 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 our society and show services team.

Award of Merit

Award of Merit Certificates were introduced in 2006 and can be issued to obedience competitors in introductory, pre-beginners and beginners classes. The awards were designed with the aim of attracting new competitors into the sport and to encourage those who don't lose too many marks, regardless of whether they are placed or not.

The certificates are signed by the judge and given out only on the day of the show to competitors who claim them. They involve a minimal amount of work for show management, but are often greatly appreciated as a mark of achievement by the newer competitors in obedience. Societies wishing to offer the certificates are asked to email our society and show services team. Please include details of whether introductory, pre-beginner or beginner certificates are required, as well as estimated numbers.

Register as an obedience club

There are two ways to run obedience competitions; the first is to register as an obedience club, the second is to apply for listed status.

How to run your show

Setting up the show
  • 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). Please download The Kennel Club's Obedience Chief Stewards' Guidance Booklet
  • 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 found on Find a Show
  • Provisionally book the intended venue (for new venues consider venue size, surface, road access and availability of water, power and waste disposal)
  • Confirm the venue and check any conditions of use and cancellation terms
  • All show dates must be applied for either in writing on club headed paper or by completing a show date application form online in the club profile.
  • Show dates must be applied for up to six weeks before the show
  • 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 approval from The Kennel Club must be obtained first - read more about judging obedience
  • Book trophy, rosette and prize card suppliers, caterers and veterinary cover; order scoresheets
  • 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
Selecting your judge

If you are looking for a judge for your competition, please visit Find a Judge to search for one who is available.

What administration should I do before the show?
  • Prepare and distribute a show schedule, using the appropriate open, limited or championship obedience 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's licence
  • Appoint a 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
What are the final preparations?
  • 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
  • For 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 email the lists in Excel
  • 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
What should I do 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 are taken to the show
  • Within 14 days of the show, send a fully updated and accurate copy of the catalogue for championship shows only, with all awards marked in, to the society and show services team
  • Within two weeks, report to The Kennel Club if there were any incidents requiring a report (e.g. 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. Read more about incidents at events

Please 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.

What should I do if I have to cancel my event/show?

It is important that the society and show services department is informed of a cancellation in writing by completing the cancellation of shows form as soon as this decision is made, giving the reason for the cancellation. It should not be assumed that because the licence application form is not returned to The Kennel Club by the due date, that the show will be removed from the show diary. 

If the cancellation is notified far enough in advance, this could free up a date for use by other clubs and societies, and in other instances it will prevent the office assuming the event is going ahead and therefore sending out unnecessary reminder letters for schedules and/or catalogues. 

Read further information about cancellation of events.

Does the society need insurance cover?

Society committees must ensure that they have adequate cover for all the society's activities. The 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.

Obedience show specimen schedules

The obedience regulations specify that shows must issue a schedule which conforms to the current specimen schedule issued by The Kennel Club. The specimens available below are regularly updated to take account of changes to the regulations or policy. Show secretaries are advised to download the most recent version of the specimen schedule before preparing any show schedules.

Chief steward information
General data protection regulation (GDPR)
Incidents at events

Anything that occurs at an event that is ‘out of the ordinary’ should be considered an incident and logged in the incident book, even if those involved do not wish to take any action. Read more about incidents at events.

Running a seminar

Societies and clubs are invited to run seminars in order for judges to meet the criteria and move further along the judging process. 

A list of accredited instructors and presenters can be found below. 

Obedience judges and presenters

Name

Address

Phone number and email

Ms Kay Allen

Plymouth, Devon 

 

Mrs Sue Garner

Fordingbridge, Hants

01725 511 117

Mr Robert Harlow

Sevenoaks, Kent

01732 457 199

Mrs Ellen Herries

Heathhall, Dumfries

 

Mr Richard Kebble

Ovington, Thetford

07802 737 867
01953 548 922

Mrs Kate McCartney

Lisburn, County Antrim

02892 622 992

Mr Michael McCartney

Lisburn, County Antrim

02892 622 992

Mrs Carole Patrick

Dumfries, Scotland

01387 259 783

Mr Steve Rutter

Bolton, Lancashire

01925 656 175

Mr Bryan Luckock

Burton-On-Trent, Staffordshire