Judging working trials

Dog walking alongside owner while out in a field
Barrie James © / The Kennel Club

Judges at working trials licensed by The Kennel Club are expected to maintain and abide by the highest standards, adhering to the Working Trial and Bloodhound Trial (I) Regulations and our Judges' Code of Best Practice.

All judges should be appropriately experienced and have suitable temperament, physical fitness and stamina.  

They must act honestly and impartially and judge in a customary fashion acceptable to competitors.

First appointments

Judges are invited by the society which is staging a working trial (it is not acceptable for judges to solicit for appointments). Before inviting a judge, the society must be satisfied that the judge is suitably qualified, and before accepting an appointment judges should ensure they meet the minimum criteria, which are described below.

All judging appointments at working trials 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 working trials 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.

You must have attended a Kennel Club Working Trial Regulations and Judging Procedure Seminar and passed the Regulations and Judging Procedure examination either at a classroom-based seminar or on The Kennel Club Academy.

Judging at an open working trial

Before you are appointed to judge at an open working trial:

  • You must have qualified a dog 'Excellent' in the stake you are going to judge, or in a higher stake
  • For a TD (tracking dog) or PD (patrol dog) appointment you must have previously judged the nosework section of a lower stake (excluding CD which does not include tracking)
  • To judge the introductory stake, you must have qualified a dog CD Ex
  • Prior to judging for the first time, you must have attended one of The Kennel Club's working trial regulations and judging procedure seminars and passed the regulations and judging procedure examination
Judging at a championship working trial for CD (companion dog), UD (utility dog) or WD (working dog) stakes

Before you can judge at a championship trial, you must have judged the relevant stake at an open working trial and you need to meet the additional criteria below:

  • For CD stake: you must have judged all groups in at least two open working trials and have qualified a dog 'Excellent' as a handler, in at least a championship CD stake
  • For UD stake: you must have judged all groups in UD, WD, PD or TD stakes at two open working trials, have judged CD stake at a championship working trial and have qualified a dog 'Excellent' as a handler, in a championship UD stake
  • For WD stake: you must have judged all groups in the UD stake at a championship working trial and have qualified a dog 'Excellent' as a handler, in a championship WD stake
Championship working trial judge for TD or PD stakes

Once you have been judging for a number of years you may be asked to judge a championship TD or PD stake and award Working Trial Certificates ('tickets'). If you are able to accept the invitation, your nomination must be approved by the board of The Kennel Club before it is confirmed.

If this is the first time you have awarded Working Trial Certificates, you must: 

  • Have five years' experience of judging at working trials licensed by The Kennel Club
  • Have judged WD stake at two or more championship trials
  • Have judged two or more open TD working trials for TD judges and open PD working trials for PD judges
  • Have qualified a dog 'Excellent' in the nominated stake
  • Have attended one of The Kennel Club's working trial regulations and judging procedure seminars and passed the regulations and judging procedure examination
  • Have attended a Kennel Club practical working trials seminar. In addition, PD judges must have attended a Kennel Club PD regulations and judging procedure seminar and passed the relevant examination
  • Have been assessed by a Kennel Club approved presenter at a TD open stake or WD championship stake for TD judges. PD judges must be assessed at a PD open stake

A person approved to judge a championship working trial certificate stake may not judge the same stake within a period of six calendar months (the relevant date being the last day of each trial).

Working trials 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 working trials regulations and judging procedure seminars can be found in the seminar diary, or you can contact an accredited trainer for further information.

Judging working trials - frequently asked questions

1. The control and agility judge at our forthcoming trial, who was named in the schedule, unfortunately had to withdraw from the judging appointment due to ill health. The committee has invited a replacement judge who has accepted. Do we need to take any further action?

You should notify The Kennel Club of any change of judge; either an email or a notification with the marked catalogue is fine except in the case of championship TD or PD judges, where the replacement requires Kennel Club approval.

Make sure that all competitors in the relevant stakes are made aware of the change - if they have already been sent their report times, you should at the least display a prominent notice at the base and if possible use the dog press, websites or other publications to let people know beforehand.

As long as the society accepts the judge's reasons for being unable to fulfil their judging contract, no more needs to be done. If the society does not accept the reasons, a report should be made to The Kennel Club, who will contact the judge and investigate.

2. Does a spectator dog form need to be filled out for each tracklayer, helper and judge who has a dog with them at a trial? Does the trials manager have to fill in a form and wear a number if their dogs are with them throughout the trial?

You should ask any non-competing helper (as well as any spectator uninvolved in the trial) who brings a dog to a trial to complete a spectator dog entry form. The numbered 'stickers' are for the convenience of the trials manager to enable them to identify an owner whom they don't know. The trials manager obviously does not need a sticker. Competitors who bring non-competing dogs should continue to use their entry form to enter those dogs 'not for competition'.

The aim of the spectator dog entry forms and the regulations about dogs at a trial is to provide a safeguard, ensuring that in the event of any incident, details of all dogs and owners present at a trial are available to the trials manager, so that trial insurance coverage remains fully effective. Like regular trial entry forms, the spectator dog forms include an agreement to abide by The Kennel Club's regulations for the trial and also include a health declaration for the dogs.