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Friday, 5 August 2011

How do I organise a doggie day out?

Dear Dogs Today

Over the past couple of months I’ve been to quite a few dog shows and have loved them. Skye, our Border Collie, is our first family dog (although I grew up with many dogs) and we’ve really enjoyed being able to take her for a day out with the kids. I’ve read Dogs Today for a about a year now and want to help out the smaller charities that really need help at the moment, and I thought organising a Fun Dog Show might be a fun way to fundraise, as well as providing a day out for the local community.

What is the best way to organise a dog show? Are there any health and safety things that need to be considered (I’m sure there are!). Would we need to register with the Kennel Club even if it was just a fun (not seriously competitive) thing? We’ve just enrolled Skye at beginner’s agility so I’m hoping to get our club involved too. I know its coming to the end of the spring/summer season now but I’m think ahead for next year as it comes around so quickly.

Any information or advice would be great.

Thank you.

Marie, by email


  1. you would certainly need liability insurance for an event like this, although you won't need to register with the KC to hold a fun dog day. first I would decide on a location then arrange your show around the size of available space, will you need portable toilets? food vans? trade stands? security? parking attendants? Lots to consider. good luck

  2. Fun Dog Shows’ are excellent social events for everyone, including the family’s pet dogs who can benefit from interacting with other dogs and their owners. They can also help build community spirit and are a great way of raising funds for local causes. Fun Dog Shows don’t need to be registered with the Kennel Club, but they do require a lot of logistical support which is why I decided to launch a free online toolkit to help organisers, with the minimal internet knowledge, plan their event.

    Take a look at which is packed with handy tips and practical advice on how to plan your show. Once you’ve chosen your classes, the site will automatically generate printable, personalised entry tags, publicity posters, show programmes, judging sheets and winners' certificates. Follow us on Twitter @fundogshow.

    Best wishes

    Joe Inglis

  3. Having organised and run Fun dog shows over the last 7 years I think I can speak from experience when I say that they are very well recieved by all dog owning and pet loving people.

    Firstly you need to consider a good location and venue, many recreation grounds are available for hire as well as local parks, and the hire prices are quite good, anything between £50- £100 a day.

    Look out for ones that are used regularly by people walking their dogs, it means that you can advertise your event with banners and posters at relatively low cost.

    Next is to choose a date, Sundays I find are better , and check that you don't clash with any other local events or Large dog shows.

    Find local Vets, Dog groomers, petshops or Dog food retailers/manufacturers to sponsor your event by means of prizes, rosettes and advertising, this means you are able to give more of your money raised to charity.

    Rosettes can be purchased for around £40 for 10 classes 1st to 5th places with Best in show and Reserve Best in show.

    Insurance is a must and you can get this from Vantage insurance, they have a policy designed specifically for dog shows and dog clubs, you must have public liability as a minimum.

    Volunteers, if you are supporting a local charity you can ask if they have anyone to spare to help you, but you need to have a couple of people to take money and note down entries on the day, Judge or judges and a steward, also a compare is great and will keep the crowd informed of what's going on in the ring and up and coming classes/running order.

    Judges don't have to be professional, they can be local celebrities, vets, or anyone that has a love of dogs if you are running a fun dog show, and of course, it's always nice to say thanks by giving them a gift for their time like a box of chocolates which always goes down well.

    Get yourself a website, facebook page and register your event on radio station 'whats on' pages, as well as Doggie day out sites.

    Advertising and getting the word out is key.

    Joe Inglis has a brilliant website called and is great for 'first timers' it has some ideas of classes and provides you with judging sheets, registration forms and competitor numbers, saves you lots of time.

    I would suggest that if you are going to make it an annual event you set up a seperate bank account and paypal account, very useful if you are going to allow businesses and charities to exhibit at your show, they can pay for pitches directly by cheque or paypal, I charge £40 for business and £10 for charities, and ask them to prepay in advance.

    It is lots of hard work, worrying if the weather is going to be dry, are people going to turn up, are dogs going to behave etc, every year we say at the beginning of the day, never again, but at the end of the show we always start talking about the next year and how we can make it better.

    Our show is on Sunday 25th September at Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, if you would like to come along and see how it all comes together then we would love to see you and your dog.

    WHAM Fun dog show

  4. Further to earlier replies, I would like to add that I found the best input for our fun day came from the kids themselves! As it's a day aimed at entertaining the whole family it's important to keep the kids happy - so ask them what they would like to see and do (they have some awesome ideas!).

    It's a good idea to get organised and keep it simple - you'll need toilets, food, drink, probably a good idea to invite a fire officer to inspect the venue, advertising, stalls (post your event on stall-finder websites), donations from local businesses and wonderful people for prizes and raffles etc...Judges and compares, insurance etc have already been mentioned in earlier posts..., water bowls & buckets for dogs on hot days, lots of rubbish bins and a program so that people know what's going on throughout the day.
    The most important thing to achieve is that you always have something going on in the ring that is entertaining to watch. If it goes quiet people will leave. We helped out something advertised as a fun dog show once, but it turned out to be an ordinary dog show with 'have-a-go agility’ thrown in! It was anything but fun as all you saw in the main ring was a load of dogs lined up and a judge wandering up and down the line clutching a clip board - the agility was pushed into a small corner of the field. It didn't work well unfortunately. I would also strongly advise someone on the microphone who never goes quiet and has a genuine interest in the subject. There's nothing worse than uncomfortable silences.
    I hope that helps and our event 'Picnic In The Dog Park' is on the 28th August (a Sunday) at 11am  This is a fun family & dog sports day type event raising money for rescue dogs in Guildford.