Rules for

Kennel Club Competitions



  1. Routines should demonstrate the dog’s athleticism, attentiveness, flexibility and training in conjunction with handler movements, complementary to the division.
  2. The dignity of the dog must be respected throughout the routine.
  3. Dogs must be entered in the lowest class for which they are eligible.
  4. Dogs may only be entered once in the same class.
  5. Routines may start and end wherever the handler chooses provided both handler and dog are in the ring.
  6. The ring must have a safe non-slip floor and the ring edge should be clearly defined.
  7. No dogs other than entered dogs are allowed in the ring or adjacent area.
  8. Routines should make good use of the available ring space.
  9. Costumes appropriate to routines are encouraged at spectator events.
  10. A dog may wear a dressed collar, but no other adornment is permitted.
  11. All props must be integral to the routine and not used as training aids.
  12. Props must not be removed from the ring at any time during a routine.
  13. The use of voice and body language is permitted.
  14. Dogs may make contact with the handler e.g. supported pose.
  15. Excessive barking and noise will be penalised.
  16. Food is not allowed in the ring at any time. Toys may be used in training rounds.
  17. There must be a running order for all classes.
  18. Handlers may enter more than one class or Division.
  19. A bitch in season must NOT compete or be taken to any show or event.
  20. All dogs must be kept under control at all times and in all areas of a venue.
  21. Entry fees are non-refundable except in the event of cancellation, when as much as possible will be returned to competitors once essential out-goings have been met.
  22. Each handler must provide their own music in CD format, clearly labelled with class and running order, together with a back up copy.
  23. The use of iPods, tapes, MP3 players and similar devices are used at the risk of the handler who should check if facilities are available for their use. The use of iPhones is not permitted, unless placed in Airplane mode to prevent incoming phone calls or text messages from interrupting the music being played.
  24. No person shall carry out punitive correction or harsh handling at any time.
  25. Any activity, which may pose a risk to the health and welfare of the dog or impugn its dignity is not acceptable and may result in elimination e.g. excessive jumping.
  26. Consideration must always be given to the dog’s age, individual fitness, flexibility and conformation when planning the content of any routine.
  27. Unacceptable risky moves, which must not be performed, are illustrated on page 7.
  28. Only dogs over 12 months are eligible for Heelwork to Music and Musical Dressage, whilst only dogs over 18 months are eligible for Freestyle and Dances with Dogs.
  29. All dogs must be registered with the Kennel Club.


The show schedule will contain details of show entry requirements and rules for the event. Handlers are also advised to be aware of and comply with Kennel Club Rules L, found in the Kennel Club Red Year Book and in the HTM Rules and Regulations booklet. Every competitor should be in possession of this booklet (up-dated annually) that pertains to all general show rules and regulations.

At Paws n Music shows there are scheduled classes for Starters, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced in four Class Divisions.


Musical Dressage (Division A):

Movements of the dog will show a continuous natural rhythmic movement reflecting the timing of the music. It may be at more than one gait, i.e. walk, trot or canter and in any direction provided a balanced and continuous rhythm is maintained throughout each element, and elements are smoothly linked. Dressage moves should be performed off lead in both heel and free positions.

Heelwork (Division B):

In a heelwork routine, the dog is worked off lead in recognised heelwork positions, (illustrated on p5) on the left or right hand side of the handler facing forward or backward, across the front or back of the handler facing left or right, moving in any direction, at any pace.  The dog’s shoulder should be approximately level with and reasonably close to the handler’s leg.  All other positions are defined as Freestyle.  A minimum of two thirds of the routine should consist of heelwork.

Freestyle (Division C):

A Freestyle routine will consist of the dog working off lead in a range of positions, demonstrating movements designed to show the dog’s athleticism and flexibility whilst allowing for the dog’s personality to be displayed through its movement.  Heelwork as described above is acceptable although such movements must not exceed one third of the routine.

Dances with Dogs (Division D):

This routine must be recognisable as dancing on the part of the handler. The dog will carry out moves from heelwork, dressage, freestyle or a combination, in a range of positions. All movement for both partners should be appropriate for the music and chosen dance style. In this division the movement of the handler is as important as that of the dog and will be marked accordingly 50/50.

Divisions B and C are both official Kennel Club (KC) recognized classes, held at KC licensed shows, under the KC HTM Rules and Regulations.

Divisions A and D are both “additional” classes, designed and held by the PnM Association, also held using KC rules but both with their own set of Judging Criteria (see pages 5 and 6).


Other clubs/societies may apply to the PnM Association to hold Divisions A and D “additional” classes, at licensed, unlicensed and Fun Shows (For more Information and application details see Committee Contacts List or email The same points system applies to these classes for progression and titles.



Judges may enter the same event they are judging at but in a different class.

Content & Flow – 10 marks

  1. The programme content conforms to the definition of Freestyle and should be varied with no excessive repetition of movement and content being appropriate to the routine.
  2. All movements should be appropriate to the structure and conformation of the dog.
  3. The content should flow naturally and be formulated in order to create an interesting routine that makes good use of ring space.
  4. Degree of difficulty of movements should be taken into account.

Accuracy and Team Performance – 10 marks

  1. Movements from the team including heelwork should be accurately and smoothly executed.
  2. The dog should work in a natural, willing and committed manner.
  3.   The dog should respond promptly and appropriately to cues given.  Signals from the handler should be subtle and form part of the handlers’ movement.
  4. The dog and handler should work as a team, presenting a captivating performance for the audience and judges, giving an overall appearance of harmony between dog and handler.

Musical Interpretation – 10 marks

  1. Interpretation of the rhythm, phrasing and timing of the music should be apparent; the choice of music should suit the team.
  2. Choreography should be apparent with the story or theme being inspired from the music.  The choice of moves by both handler and dog should be well represented by the chosen music.
  3. Primary emphasis of musical interpretation should be on the dogs’ movements although the handler should/may be expressive.
  4. Handlers’ dress and any props used should be suitable and applicable to the interpretation of the routine with all props integrated into the performance.

*In the event of a tie, the Accuracy and Execution of Movement mark will determine the result for Heelwork to Music Classes, and the Musical Interpretation mark for Freestyle classes.


Programme Content – 10 marks.

  1. The content conforms to the class definition i.e. the dog demonstrates flowing natural rhythmic movements, reflecting the musical timing.
  2. A range of heel and free positions, directions of movement and speeds should be included, with no unnecessary repetition.
  3. The programme should showcase the movements of the dog, appropriate for its age, structure and conformation.
  4. The degree of difficulty should be taken into account e.g. complexity and distance.

Accuracy and Execution of Movement – 10 marks

  1. Movements of the dog should be accurate, rhythmical and flowing, with elements of the routine smoothly joined.
  2. The dog should be focused, responding to cues promptly and appropriately.
  3. The dog should work in a natural and willing manner, moving freely.
  4. Both partners should demonstrate balance and poise, the handler’s bearing and deportment being appropriate for the routine.

Musical Interpretation – 10 marks

  1. Interpretation should reflect timing, rhythm, phrasing and nuances of the music.
  2. Choreography should show balance, structure, variation and spatial awareness.
  3. A strong partnership should be evident, between dog, handler and music, with emphasis on the dog’s flowing rhythmic movement.
  4. Props and costumes should enhance the programme and be appropriate.

*In the event of a tie, the Accuracy and Execution mark will determine the result for Musical Dressage classes.


Judges may enter the same event they are judging at but in a different class.

In all 3 sections, up to 5 points are awarded to the handler and up to 5 to the dog. Making a total of 10 points available in each section.

Programme Content – 10 marks.

  1. The programme should conform to the definition i.e. be recognizable as a dance on the part of the handler throughout.
  2. The handler should demonstrate a range of appropriate footstep patterns, arm and body movements.
  3. The dog should perform a range of moves including synchronization and smooth transitions, all appropriate for its age, structure and conformation, with no unnecessary repetition.
  4. The degree of difficulty should be taken into account e.g. complexity and positioning.

Accuracy and Execution of Movement  – 10 marks

  1. Handler footstep patterns, arm and body moves should be varied, show quality and fluidity and suit the style of dance.
  2. Dog moves and sequences should demonstrate quality and be smoothly executed.
  3. The dog should work in a willing and natural manner with the handler, responding to cues promptly and appropriately.
  4. Both partners should be able to move freely, demonstrating balance and poise.

Musical Interpretation – 10 points.

  1. Interpretation for both partners should reflect the timing, rhythm and phrasing of the music and its nuances e.g. change of mood or speed.
  2. Choreography should be apparent throughout, demonstrating balance and structure, creativity and spatial awareness.
  3. Props and costumes should be appropriate, enhancing interpretation of the dance.
  4. The harmony and relationship of dog and handler should show the strength of the dance partnership and image of oneness with the music.

*In the event of a tie, the Musical Interpretation mark will determine the result for Dances with Dogs classes.


PnM discourages the use of moves that may be considered injurious to the dog. Judges at both KC licensed shows and other PnM events may deduct marks, or if warranted stop a routine, if they feel the dog is at risk of injury.

The UK Kennel Club have set out a number of moves that are NOT permitted during any routine at a Kennel Club Licensed event. PnM do not allow these moves to be used at any of its events.  If any of the following moves are included in a routine, the dog and handler will be eliminated from the competition or participation in an event.


The following points will be awarded in all Kennel Club official classes and PnM additional classes:  1st place: 10 points; 2nd place: 6 points; 3rd place: 4 points and; 4th place: 2 points.   On entry to the next level of competition, points return to zero.

In Kennel Club official classes, once a dog has progressed to the next class it is entitled to use the previous class award after its name on entry forms and catalogues. Only the highest award may be used, with separate awards indicated for Heelwork and Freestyle – HTM St, HTM N, HTM I for Heelwork and FS St, FS N, FS I, for Freestyle. Once a dog has gained 24 points in an Advanced class it will be entitled to have HTM.A or FS.A after its name.

All dogs must be in possession of a Kennel Club HTM Points Record book, detailing the points gained, the show, date and under which judges.  It is the handler’s responsibility to keep a full and accurate account of this. These books are on sale on the PnM stand at shows, online through the KC website or directly from the Kennel Club.

KC Excellent Certificates and Awards

Excellent Certificates are available for the two Kennel Club official classes. This award is gained once a first place has been awarded together with the required number of points at each particular level. The dog will be awarded an Excellent Qualification and the title ‘Ex’ may be used after its name, for example: HTM St Ex, HTM I Ex, or FS N Ex, FS A Ex.

To apply for an ‘Excellent Certificate’, your HTM Points Record Book must be submitted to the Awards Department at the Kennel Club, detailing the certificate for which you are applying. Your book will be returned but it is recommended to keep a copy in case of loss in the post.

PnM Excellent Certificates

Competitors are eligible for an ‘Excellent Certificate’ in Musical Dressage and Dances with Dogs, once a first place has been awarded together with the required number of points for that particular level.

Please submit the points gained, dates and show details to, stating the certificate for which you are applying. Points Record sheets for the ‘additional’ classes are for sale on the PnM stand at shows or ordered by emailing