Attending your first working trial

Dog being trained
Eleanor Riley © / The Kennel Club

Once you have started training your dog and understand more about working trials, you may start thinking about entering a trial yourself. Below is information on the schedule and entry form.

Be aware that most trials span several days. You may find that all your exercises are scheduled on the same day, but you may sometimes find that your nosework exercises are on one day while your control and agility exercises take place at the end of the trial.


A schedule is a small booklet of information detailing the trial information and includes the entry form. It will list all the stakes available, the judges who are judging the stakes, the secretary’s information, the stake definitions, the venue address and much more. 

Entry form

To enter a trial, 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 stake, or stakes, you would like to enter the schedule will always offer detailed definitions of each stake. 

Signing the entry form is important as it forms the contract between yourself and the show society. 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 first working trial

There are a number of things you should remember to do before you attend your first working trial.

Checklist of things to do
  • Dress appropriately - plenty of layers of warm clothing, strong waterproof walking boots or wellington boots, hat, gloves and a jacket that is both windproof and waterproof. Even in British weather you may also need sunglasses
  • If you take a change of clothing, you will not face a cold and damp car journey home. Pack food and drinks, as you are unlikely to be near shops, though societies often provide snacks and hot drinks at the base. Judges' lunches are provided by the host society
  • Getting to a trial often involves a long car journey - a strong travelling cage and plenty of water will make your dog's journey more comfortable. Often working dogs are not fed before the day's work, but remember to pack food and bowls to enable you to feed your dog before returning home
  • Check the schedule/catalogue for details of where the trial is being held, and the time for reporting to the base
Things to take to the trial
  • Water bowl and water
  • Food for yourself and your dog
  • Walking lead
  • Waterproof clothing (if the show is to be held outdoors)
  • Clothes for the day
  • Money
  • Make a note of what stakes you have entered so you are prepared on the day

What to expect at the trial

Here are our tips for making the most of your first working trial.

What you can expect at the trial
  • Allow plenty of time to reach the base - if you run late, you will usually find a mobile phone number to call the trial manager
  • Book in once you arrive at the base. Take note of the briefing you will receive. It should contain information on where you will be working and how to get there, plus advice on parking, to avoid obstructing the work of farmers and landowners. Working trials are vitally dependent on the goodwill and generosity of landowners, farmers and their workers, so always treat the countryside with respect and be courteous to all those who live and work there
  • Keep your dog under control and be aware of its reactions. Give it time to adjust to the environment of the trial, and if it seems affected by the proximity of other competitors, give it some space and reassurance. If you feel your dog should not continue working, ask the judge's permission before withdrawing from that exercise
What you can expect at the end of the trial
  • At the end of the trial, join the other competitors at the base for the judge's summing up and the allocation of prizes. It is courteous and expected that you will attend regardless of your personal results. If you do wish to withdraw from any part of the stake, you must obtain permission from the trials manager
  • If you enjoyed competing in a working trial, it's likely that you'll enter another one in future, which could lead to eventually qualifying for a more advanced stake

Next step - competing in working trials

Once you've attended your first trial, you're now a competitor. Learn more about competing in working trials.