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. 

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

The obedience championship show judges' nomination form must be with The Kennel Club nine months prior to the date of the working trial. For first-time appointments, this form must be accompanied by a completed questionnaire for proposed championship obedience judge which must be received at The Kennel Club to be approved, at least 18 months prior to the date of the show.

If you are looking for a judge for your competition, please visit Find a Judge to search for one who is available. All judges must be fully conversant with The Kennel Club Obedience G Regulations


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 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
  • The ring stewards can be appointed 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
  • 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.

What administration should I do before the show?
Societies are required to consider government advice, including DEFRA, in place at the time when planning an event. It is also worth noting that often advice is different for different parts of the United Kingdom and this needs to be taken into account when planning the event both in relation to the venue and expected participants.
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.

Do I need insurance cover?

One of the main concerns for societies is whether there will be adequate insurance cover. Kennel Club show regulations stipulate that insurance is required – otherwise the show licence is invalid. It is always best to check with the society’s own insurance provider in terms of the amount of and heads of cover. We have partnered with Pet Business Insurance (PBI) to provide specifically designed insurance cover for canine clubs or societies, including public and products liability insurance at a competitive price. It is unlikely that any Covid-19-specific insurance will be available but general public liability will be available.

You can contact them on 01284 736874 or visit their website.

A society should make best efforts to ensure that the venue/ground is Covid-19 safe, in line with government advice available at the time (including risk assessments). This will then help in demonstrating that the society has discharged its duty of care to participants and visitors. It is not possible to guarantee a no Covid-19 risk scenario, and there will be an element of assumption of risk by the participant/visitor. The society’s job is to minimise that risk. As always in the context of health and safety, there should be clearly documented instructions and role descriptions defining the clear delegation of responsibilities for the range of health and safety issues at the event.

A statement must be included in all schedules to state that if an exhibitor, or anyone in their household, has Covid-19-related symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19, they must not attend the event.

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.

Risk assessment

Every society must undertake its own individual risk assessment for every event.

Any particular measures or conditions that competitors need to be aware of prior to the event must be included within the schedule.


Written guidance should be sought from the venue hirer regarding any special measures the show committee must undertake during their hiring period.

Rings may need to be spread out more than previously to allow space between the rings for free movement of people and to ensure that those in adjacent rings are not too close to each other.

Indoor venues may need to have more space around rings to ensure there is adequate space and a separate entrance and exit should be encouraged,

Is your proposed venue therefore large enough to accommodate the above and any other special requirements?

Schedule of events
It is not necessary for any activity to schedule a full range of classes and therefore societies should consider carefully which classes/stakes to schedule to ensure the event is of a manageable size, taking into consideration any additional health and safety requirements. A statement must be included in all schedules to state that if a competitor, or anyone in their household, has Covid-19-related symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19, they must not attend the event.
Veterinary cover
For those events that do not have on-site veterinary cover, liaison must be undertaken with the on-call veterinary practice to ensure it is able to provide the required cover.
If a judge has been contracted for a future show/event and is no longer willing to officiate due to concerns relating to Covid-19, their age or health, the contract should be cancelled and a new judge appointed. It must be acknowledged that everyone’s circumstances are different and therefore The Kennel Club will not take any action against a judge not fulfilling their appointment in these circumstances.
Officials' meals
Hospitality and catering arrangements for judges, officials and stewards should be reviewed in line with relevant Covid-19 and food safety guidelines. If meals are being served, appropriate PPE should be worn by those serving.

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 accredited judges and trainers



Phone number and email

Ms Kay Allen

Plymouth, Devon 


Mrs Sue Garner

Fordingbridge, Hants

01725 511 117

Mrs Ellen Herries

Heathhall, Dumfries


Mr Richard Kebble

Heacham, Norfolk

07802 737 867
01485 779588

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 Bryan Luckock

Burton-On-Trent, Staffordshire


Ms Annette Benoist

Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

07702 469743

Mrs Hazel Troth

Diss, Norfolk

07708 028023

01379 669 026