Working Trials: La Crème de la Crème of Dog Sports

What is Working Trials?

🐾Dating back to the early 1920’s when the Association of Sheep, Police and Army Dog Society organised their first event, Working Trials was basically designed to test the ability of working dogs.

🐾Today Working Trials is the civilian equivalent of Police Dog work. The following sections are required to be trained to the highest standard and tested at a Trial:

📍Heelwork (on and off lead) no vocal commands or hand signals may be given. The dog must stay by your side in all paces and in all directions and sit when the handler halts.

📍Sit and Down Stays out of sight of 2 minutes and 10 minutes duration respectively

📍Nosework – must retrieve at least four articles by smell from a 25 yard search square

📍Agility – Clear jump 3 foot, long jump 9 feet, and scale 6 feet, all under the control of the handler

📍Formal Recall with present and finish. The dog recalls from a sit stay position and sits in front of the owner, returning to heel on command.

📍Dumbell Retrieve with present and finish. The dog should retrieve a dumbbell thrown by the handler and hold it until hander is instructed to take it.

📍Send-away – this is where your dog is required on command to run in a straight line to a designated spot on command and wait there until released (advanced sendaways require redirections left and right)

📍As you get to higher stakes in Working Trials other elements are brought in such as Tracking, your dog must follow a track laid by human scent, steadiness to gunshot pursuit and detention and speak.

EASY RIGHT? 😜

🐾As with all Barking Mad Rickmansworth training we make it FUN FUN FUN!!!

🐾To us we are training our dogs to do certain things, to the dog each element should be fun and perceived as a game!

That is how we get to where we want to be!

🐾Working Trials is true Teamwork and involves so many fun elements that you and your dog can learn to progress in together. 

🐾 Working Trials is open to all breeds of dog no matter what breed or size. Your relationship with your dog will be amazing.😍

😀Fancy joining us? The next Monthly Working Trials Club is meeting Saturday 26th August at 12:30pm with Mark

Come and take the challenge!!! There is no other dog sport like it!!

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Platforms, Puppies & Pesky Pooches

Wow! What an action packed weekend it has been, we are all thoroughly tired not least Monty our very youngest addition to the Barking Mad gang. Monty joined Annie’s 13:30 puppy class today and despite being small in stature he made a big impact! 


Sarah’s puppy class is now on week 4 and everyone is doing brilliantly. The Border Terrier Brothers Billy & Alfie are wowing us all with their lovely focus and heelwork, Daisy the Golden Retriever and Sammie the Cavapoo are our Trick Queens with fab displays of ‘Touch’, ‘Spin’ and ‘Paw’. Phoebe has fantastic drive for a toy and her owner Claire is building on that drive to work on retrieve and recall. Alfie our clever and curious Staffordshire Bull Terrier has shown that he has the edge in competition, he performed for his owner Andy to help his team come from behind to clinch the half time competition🏆 It is brilliant to watch the pups grow (so quickly Sammie!) and progess. Well done everyone 👍🏻


Lovely Annie hosted our very first Platform Taster Session yesterday. Both handlers and dogs tackled the training with gusto and did amazingly well. Platform Training has a range of benefits, ranging from improving your dogs position for heelwork, helping your dog to stay in one place when performing distance commands and as a low impact exercise for when your dog may be recovering from illness or injury. Karen, with Millie, a blond Labrador, found it ‘very interesting, with challenges and good fun!’ Further sessions will follow in the future – so watch this space 👀


Lots of obedience classes took place today. Annie’s 11:30 class ventured to Chorleywood House Estate to incorporate some Out & About training into the regular lesson. Incorporating what we learn in lessons when you’re out on a walk is an invaluable way of proofing your dogs training. We often hear that dogs can ‘do it at home’ which is brilliant. The next step is to work on him being able to do it when he is outside and faced with a myriad of distractions, whether it be on the training field or out on a walk. To achieve solid reliability and focus from your dog practise what you learn in training when you are out and about… and don’t be shy! Your dog will love it and you will soon be the star in your class! 🌟 
Annie’s class faced all manner of distractions this afternoon…from a football tournament, with children and footballs passing close by ⚽️, a burger van with a very tempting aroma 🍔 and one or two pesky pooches who obviously realised that we were having so much fun that they wanted to join in… Nonetheless everyone’s heelwork, distance work and recall & focus was brilliant (almost brilliant if your name is Mikey 🙈).

The gang also worked on shaping exercises – sending their dogs out around a tree and  search and retrieves for small articles such as toothbrushes, spoons, socks and bizarrely a tourniquet 🤔


Thank you to everyone who trained with us this weekend, we hope you had as much fun as we did!😊

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Better Pivots than the English Netball Team 😁

Beginners and Advanced Agility met today, on what turned out to be a glorious spring day.

The Beginners Agility group welcomed three new members, a very clever cockapoo called Rue, a brave and dashing cocker spaniel and a beautiful Gordon Setter, Georgie. The class was held by Lovely Annie and it started by introducing  the dogs and their handlers to some warm up exercises, including stretches, light massage and an introduction to foot placement and spatial awareness. Luckily Mark, one of our trainers, and his two year old Dobermann Zeus were on hand to show everyone how it is done. Zeus wowed the class with his fabulous pivots, gamely rotating around the bucket with two legs on the ground and two on the bucket.  Mark cued the direction that he wanted Zeus to move in by moving his body around the bucket and without luring with food.

The class then went on to introduce their dogs to the various pieces of agility equipment. All dogs did extremely well and tackled each obstacle confidently. 

More experienced members of the groups went on to perform more complex tunnel work and redirections.

The advanced Agility class met later  and after a similar warm up spent some time practising the welcome art of sending dogs over jumps without the need to run with them. This involved working on impulse control and ensuring that the dogs understood handsignals and directions. Much of the redirection work that we learn in obedience classes comes into play during Agility training and as a handler you become very aware of how important it is that your hand is in the right position, otherwise you watch in dismay as your dog races around the wrong course….😩

🌷🌞Spring was definitely in the air, and in the dogs paws… it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. 🌞🌷

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Dedicated kids train their dogs in the rain ☔️ Junior Dog Handler

Junior Dog Handler Training

The hardy gang at KidsClub braved the elements on Saturday to practice their junior dog handler training skills in chilly Chorleywood.

Molly and her Beagle puppy Bailey battled  the flooded lanes and highways from Watford to get to training. Adam and his Border Collie Jake travelled from Hemel Hempstead to ensure they made their fortnightly training session. Having taken a couple of weeks off over Christmas both children and dogs could be forgiven for being less than enthusiastic.  But everyone was in high spirits and raring to go.

After a warming round of heelwork to get us going Adam and Molly persuaded their dogs to perform impressive recall exercises.

The children have been working very hard on developing their relationship with their dogs and this was fantastic to see during this exercise.

Both dogs are immature males, but their focus on their young handlers was fabulous to watch.

Working on the sit/stay command has been a gradual process, keeping both kids and dogs calm has been a challenge in itself! However Adam and Jake made this look effortless this week. Adam was able to leave his Border Collie using the stay command. Molly and Bailey the baby Beagle worked a short distance away. Both handlers have worked a great deal on the focus they get from their dogs and this is becoming increasingly obvious.

The picture below shows both handlers and dogs weaving through bowls of food. No mean feat considering the bowls contained chicken livers. Both dogs performed this brilliantly and gave the children an opportunity to work on the ‘leave it’ command. The dogs did leave it, which we were ALL relieved about! We celebrated by revising our trick routines. Both dogs are now spinning, twisting and weaving through legs. Adam and Jake spent a great deal of their time giggling too! Didn’t our junior dog handler Jake do well!

Both children are working towards a achieving their Bronze Star award.

junior dog handler

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Doggy Christmas Party 🎄

🎄Great fun was had by all that attended our  Doggy Christmas party. There was something for everyone, including Flyball, Agility, Steeplechase, Party Games and a Fun Dog show including best fancy dress costume.

😀It was absolutely fabulous to see so many people there including dog training clients, doggy daycare clients and also some new faces, from Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Watford, St Albans and Northwood.

🐶The dogs were brilliantly well behaved and looked marvellous in their outfits.

☀️The weather was kind to us too and our fully secure training field looked beautiful in the winter sunshine.

💐Many thanks to Natalie Greenbank for attending and taking some truly beautiful pictures of our dogs.

📆We are already planning next years extravaganza so keep your eyes peeled – it’s going to be better than ever!

See what other events we have going on here!

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Bruisers Birthday Photos🎂

Happy 9th birthday to Bruiser, everybody’s favourite Dobermann. Bru, our resident pocket detective, took a break from sniffing out treats to share his Birthday Cake made by the very Talented Victoria Neale of Treat Loaf (https://m.facebook.com/treatloaf/) with his friends.

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Croxley Green Charity Dog Show

Every year we are asked to run the agility competition at the Croxley Green Dog show and this year was no exception. It was a lovely day, with the occasional heavy shower. Our very own Sarah was invited to help judge, which was particularly difficult with such a huge variety of dogs. Karen & Millie came third in Best Bitch and Karen with Joey won the agilty, so all in all it was a very successful day.

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