If there is one event that most dog lovers can get behind in the UK it is Crufts, with this year’s Best in Show winner a gorgeous Lagotto Romangnolo named Orca. But, despite Crufts being the best-known dog show in the world, it isn’t the only event to celebrate our four-legged friends in all their glory.
According to the American Kennel Club, there were 2,000 speciality breed shows held across the United States alone, while the UK is enjoying a rise in popularity with local events being held across most regions of the country.
If you have been dreaming of hosting your very own dog event then there is no better time with the UK’s dog population booming. Here are some essential tips to ensure that you can host a fun dog event safely while still wowing the crowds.
1. Getting insurance
Let’s get the boring part out of the way first, insurance. You will need to ensure that your event is properly covered starting with public liability insurance, which is a standard policy to take out for any form of public event. This will cover any accidental injury that may be obtained at your event, and you may need to tailor the finer details of the insurance coverage with your policy holder.
For example, most public events would have a minimal risk of dog bites but you could argue that at a Crufts-like show that this risk is greater, and so the insurance policy will have to be adjusted accordingly. If you intend on hiring staff for your dog show, then you will also need employers’ liability insurance to protect those who are simply doing a job to help your event run smoothly.
To further protect yourself, other insurance policies you may wish to take out include event cancellation insurance and equipment insurance in case there are some failures. Bespoke animal event insurance companies are a great place to start looking as they will have all of the relevant policies in one place, this saves you time trying to weave a patchwork of policies together from multiple companies.
2. Choosing your venue
While insurance might be a boring but essential part of putting on a dog show, choosing your venue or event space is where your excitement can start to build. There are several considerations to make when choosing your venue.
Besides the main presentation area, or areas, you will also need to consider how much space is required for visitors and spectators, and whether things like catering need additional room or if there are facilities there which can be used.
Once you have an idea of the venue size, the next hurdle to overcome is availability. If it’s an outdoor event then the time of year will be critical, with spring and summer months likely to book out quickly. You then must estimate the costs involved, from the outlay of hiring the venue to additional costs such as staffing, marketing and security.
3. What activities will you host?
Firstly you need to find an event space that is the right size, which means you will have to consider what types of displays and competitions you wish to host. Will it be simply a parade, or perhaps you would like to have agility and flyball too? You could also include some fun competitions such as cutest puppy, best smile, coolest walk, etc.
The number of events and types dictate how much space you will need. But there is a fun side to deciding which competitions or activities you intend to have at your event and that is the rosettes. Will you try to emulate Crufts or design something fresh to pass to ecstatic handlers and owners?
4. Security detail
Some event spaces will happily run with their security team while others may insist that this is part of your responsibility. If security falls to you there are a few important points to consider and this may require enlisting the help of a security expert with security qualifications or licensing.
Crowd and traffic control are going to be major security requirements, from creating a safe and orderly queue to traffic control and security guards. Some events may not allow organisers to use public roads, for example, and so secure measures must be in place to ensure queues do not build up in restricted spaces or pathways. Furthermore, your insurance may insist on a certain level of security for your event, and failing to match these expectations could see you liable for damages.
5. Are you allowed to host a dog show?
If you are looking to organise your event on council land, you may need to apply through the Outdoor Events Office to obtain the appropriate permission to host a dog show.
Gaining permission from the appropriate local authority will not only ensure that your event isn’t closed down due to a lack of permission, but the council will put in place some infrastructure to help you. This is where you may subsequently gain permission for things like road closures or improved signage so that your visitors can find your event.
6. Marketing your event
You don’t want to put on a fun dog show and have no one turn up so how you market your event is essential to getting two-legged and four-legged visitors. This is also the stage where you can let your creative juice run wild as you design your posters and tickets for the big day.
Spreading the word through social media is a cost-effective way to reach as many people as possible for little cost. Setting up a profile for your event is just the first step, and you will have to create a strategy to ensure people know when and where your dog show is taking place.
You may wish to create an event website so people can find your show themselves and listing your dog show to directory websites can also bring in visitors who are looking for things to do in their area.
Whether you are looking to run the event with volunteers or paid staff, you will also need to advertise these roles well enough in advance so that you can complete the hiring process. Of course, no dog show would be complete without the judges, so make sure to have these in place too.
7. Other essential logistics
A public event must be compliant with health and safety regulations, which can require the presence of first aid-trained people or potentially an ambulance. But what about the dogs? You may wish to partner with a local vet to look after animal welfare on the day – shows can be stressful for some animals, and if you include active events like flyball then injuries may occur.
You will need a method for processing guests, whether this is a simple paper ticketing system or a digital process depends on your budget. Setting ticket prices is important as you don’t want to price people out of attending but you will also wish to maximise the money you raise, whether it’s for profit or charity, every penny matters.