A guide to dog sport clubs and courses in London

Despite the snow of the past week, March has come, Spring is approaching and hopefully you will soon be able to spend more time outdoor with your dog at a more pleasant temperature. Did you know that March also happens to be a great time to start a dog sport or a sport with your dog in London, with many courses coming up and clubs calling for new members to join? This is all you need to know and how to find the club or training course that best suits your and your dog’s needs!

Why picking a dog sport or a sport with your dog?

“Who is tired of London is tired of life, for that in London there is all that life can afford”, once said Samuel Johnson. It is curious to see that this also applies to a dog’s life in London, if you just consider the number of dog events running every week in town. Add all the parks to explore and the pleasant walks, and you could pretty much consider your canine life sorted.

But, if you have an active dog, you may find something is still missing from the equation, as you struggle to find an activity to release its energy and help flourish its potential. Different dogs adjust differently to city life, and while some may be happy with some off-leash runs at the park or even just a stroll, others will crave additional sources of mental stimulation. In these cases dog sports come in handy and will help you give your dog the means and activity they need to thrive, while also reinforcing the bond between you two!

But how do you to approach dog sports in London? If you already started having a look around for courses, you will know that it can be challenging to find all information: while out of town clubs seem to flourish, in the city options are a bit more limited and also when you find a club, websites often don’t list all the information you would like to know. This is why we thought to do some digging and provide you with a collection of information about dog sport courses and clubs, as well about sports you can do with your dog (without claims of completeness). We will aim to update the post and add more as we go; please feel free to suggest any favourites we may have missed for the benefit of the community.

Dog Sports in London: finding a club or course

Agility, obedience, flyball, heelwork to music, working trials, rally, canicross, trick training, are only some of the dog sports you can do with your dog. Without getting into the details of all the benefits for our four-legged friends, we

Please note that this is a collection of information that comes from online searches and .. but having not tried the courses ourselves, we do not endorse any of the courses listed.

  1. Agility
  2. Hoopers
  3. Flyball
  4. Canicross
  5. Working Trials and Scent Work
  6. Trick Training and Dancing

Agility

Dog agility London

A dog sport that does not need introduction, agility involves the dog completing an obstacle course in the least time and having collected the less penalties (in other words what count are time and accuracy). Equipment include A-frames, tunnels, weaves, jumps, etc.

There are a number of public agility trails in London where you can have a go. However, if you want to have a solid start, learning the fundamentals (and importantly learn how to approach the obstacles so that your dog does not get injured) and maybe compete in this discipline, you have the option to attend a course and/or join a club. These are the ones we found in London:

1. Friendly Creatures

Friendly Creatures offers dog training services in East London, including agility courses, taught by dog trainer Lydia Burke, MSC BSc PGCE, who has been training and competing in agility with her dogs and uses positive reinforcement methods.

i) Beginners Agility Course
What: 6 weeks course for dogs who would like to start agility.
Where: Lee Valley Ice Centre (E10 7QL) (outdoor, next to it) (about 10-15 minutes walk from Clapton Overground station)
When: Sunday mornings 10.30am. Next courses: 18th February – 25th March; 8th April – 13th May; 20th May – 24th June
Cost: £90
ii) Agility Training Sessions
What: 10 weeks course for experienced dogs over a year old, who are good with other dogs and people.
Where: Aldersbrook Riding School (E12 5HW) (indoor venue) (from Leytonstone station on the Central line or from TfL rail Manor Park station, bus W19 and 7 minutes walk)
When: Thursday evenings 7.15pm; next course: 19th April – 21st June
Cost: £80

Contacts: Lydia 07754155286, lydia@friendly-creatures.co.uk, website

2. Trent Park Dog Agility Club

Where: North London, Trent Park (10-15 mins walk from Oakwood on the Piccadilly line, zone 5)
When: Monday nights. Classes are split in two, 8pm-9pm and 9pm-10pm. Attendees to the first class are asked to arrive a bit early to help setting up the equipment and the second to help to tidy up. There is a waiting list to join the club, and you will be contacted when a new pre-beginners class is starting (or, if you are not a beginner, they will tell you if there are any available spaces).
Courses and costs: Pre-beginners course (3 weeks, £30); Beginners course (8 weeks, £80); Club: if dog and handler do well, they can become members and train in the normal classes (divided in levels; £150 per year pro rata).
Trainer: The club is run by volunteers
Contacts: Graham at graham.roystondoghouse@gmail.com

3. Mudchute agility classes with Angus McFarlane

Where: East London, Mudchute Equestrian Centre, Mudchute Park, E14 (outdoor) (less than 10 minutes walk from Mudchute or Crossharbour DLR stations, although you have to walk through Mudchute Park, which can be dark at night)
When: Monday nights (7.30-8.30pm and 8.30-9.30pm)
Courses: two classes, Beginners and Advanced
Cost: £155 for 8 weeks course (1 hour per class)
Trainer: Angus Macfarlane, competing in agility
Contacts: Angus 07973 830075

4. City Paws Club

Where: South London, Chessington World of Adventures Resort Leatherhead Road, Chessington (KT9 2NE) (15 minutes walk from Chessington South train station, South Western rail)
When: Saturday mornings; starting 7 April 2018 for 7 weeks
Courses: 3 levels: Beginner Class (start time: 9:00am); Improvers Class:  (start time: 10:20am); Master Agility (start time: 11:40am)
Cost: £180 for 7 group classes
Trainer: Chantal Karyta, BSc. (Hons) in Psychology, member of COAPE, MAPDT 1068 and IMDT. Regularly competes in agility at Crufts and Olympia with her Shelties.
Contacts: Matt matt@citypawsclub.co.uk; website City Paws Club

5. Elmtree | Happy Dogs Training School

Where: North London, Elmtree Canine Country Club and Training Centre, Tyle Kiln Cottage, Burnt Farm Ride, Theobalds Park Estate, Waltham Cross (EN2 9DY)(from Crews Hill train station a bit more than 15minutes walk)
When: 1 hour classes, currently confirming dates
Courses: Just for Fun Agility, Foundation Agility (groundwork and foundations for young dogs or dogs that are new to the sport), Agility Club (for those wishing to compete in agility, max 6 dogs per course)
Costs: awaiting confirmation
Trainer: awaiting confirmation

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625; website

6. Alpha Dog Training

Where: North London, Finsbury Park ()
When: April to September, fair-weather only, Saturdays 4-6pm
Costs: First session £20 or £30 for not-Alpha clients, then £2.50 per session
Trainer: Sue Evans, UDip CTBM, PPDTI Adv, KCAI (CD* GCDS), QIDTI, FIAS, MIACE, LCGI, MBIPDT, PTLLS, and Agility Club Approved.

Contacts: Sue or Ceri Evans 020 8809 6762; website

Agility pug

More about agility

You can find more information about agility, including its rules and regulations, at this Kennel Club page.  For competitions and more the go-to website is Agilitynet.

Hoopers

A tweaked version of agility, without jumps. Suitable for older dogs, dogs with joint problems, etc.

1. Elmtree | Happy Dogs Training School

Where: North London, Elmtree Canine Country Club and Training Centre, Tyle Kiln Cottage, Burnt Farm Ride, Theobalds Park Estate, Waltham Cross (EN2 9DY)(from Crews Hill train station a bit more than 15minutes walk)
When: from 7th May 2018, Mondays 7-8pm
Costs: £60 for 5 weeks course

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625; website

Flyball in London

Flyball London dogs
Womballs Flyball dogs display at Chiswick House Dog Show in London

Timed sport. The dog must run and jump over a number of hurdles, get the ball placed at the end of the course and run back through the same course as fast as possible, before another dog starts the race (teams include four dogs and handlers racing and two reserves). These are the clubs training in London (if you want to know more about the team’s scores etc., you can search for them on the British Flyball Association here or have a look at the alternative UK Flyball League website).

1. Womballs Flyball Club

If you attended the Chiswick House Dog Show last year (or the previous one), you may have seen the Womballs’ display. A jolly lot having fun with their dogs, they are.
Where: Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields on Wimbledon Common (SW15 3DU) (the closest stations are Putney, Southfields and Wimbledon)
When: Most Saturdays (9.30am-12.30pm)
Groups: Newbees and Intermediate (who run in netting), then “open dogs” session (without netting for more experienced dogs)
Costs: Member fee £24 individual or £36 family + training course £60 for 6 weeks
Contact: Jenny Jepp 07939 306871; website Womballs Flyball Club

2. Ruff Diamonds

Where: South West London, Wimbledon Sports Extension Grounds (SW15 3QF)
When: Regular training: Saturdays 9.30-11.30am;
New starter course: 24th February- 31st March,  11.30am-12.30pm
Cost: £60 for the six weeks starter course (including a tournament at the end); afterwards, club inclusive of training and tournaments: £50 every 3 months (includes tournament fees)
Trainers: Sara French (has been in flyball for 11 years and experience with reactive dogs) and Leila Richardson (works full time at dog kennels, has been instructing flyball for 5 years)
Contacts: Selina 07974921138; Sara 07962404482; Leila 07932789468; website: Ruff Diamonds

3. Four in the Fast Lane

Where: South London (Wandsworth), Battersea Ironsides Sports Club, Earlsfield (SW17 0AW) (the closest stations are Wandsworth Common and Tooting Bec)
When: Friday evenings. Lessons are 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the number of dogs in the class. All classes are split into people and their dogs just wanting to run for fun and people who want to run their dogs in competitions.
Courses: Starters (7pm-7.50pm); Intermediates (7pm-7.50pm); Advanced/Competiton (8pm onwards)
Cost: First class free, then £6 per class
Trainer: Claire Lucioni, who has been in flyball for 11 years
Contacts: 07939 367972 Fastlaneflyball@outlook.com ; website: Four in the Fast Lane

More clubs and One-off sessions

One-off sessions and workshops are also provided by Friendly Creatures in London. Happy Dogs Training will be holding a course starting on 7th May 2018, Mondays 7-8pm, cost £60 for 5 weeks course.

In the outskirts of London you can find the Racing Herts (training in Wickford, Essex and Hertfordshire) and the Hotshots club (training at the RSPCA in Southridge).

Competitive obedience

Kamal Fernandez obedience
Kamal Fernandez (photo courtesy of Kamal)

Competitive obedience is a dog sport that emphasises precision and accuracy in the exercises and a strong dog-handler harmony. Heelwork, present, retrieve, stay are some of the exercises. You can participate to competitions recognised by the Kennel Club, or under BCOS (British Competitive Obedience Society). The go-to website it Obedience UK, and with a cheap annual fee you have access to the website’s listing of all competition dates.

We used to go to Kamal Fernandez’s Monday nights obedience classes in East London (and they were absolutely superlative!). Unfortunately the classes ceased in 2017 due to Kamal moving out of London.

We are unaware of any competitive obedience courses currently running in London (we checked the ones listed by the Kennel Club, but were told that those trainers/clubs don’t actually offer competitive obedience training).

Update: Happy Dogs Training is holding a 6-weeks course starting on Wednesday 9th May 2018, 7-8pm (cost is £60 and you can email training@elmtreepethotel.co.uk to reserve a space).

Canicross

Canicross is a discipline consisting in cross country running with dogs, attached to the runner by means of a special harness.

1. DogFit

Where: West London, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common
When: Dates are normally publicised on their Facebook page
Cost: Introduction, which includes hire of kit, basic commands and etiquette along with a gentle 5k in a group costs £20. Courses range from £72 to £120. Alternatively you can drop in to a session that is within your and your dog’s capabilities for £12 or buy a pack of 10 for £100.
Trainer: Sarah Norris
Contact: You can get in touch through their Facebook page

Working Trials and Scent Work

1. Elmtree | Happy Dogs Training School

Where: North London, Elmtree Canine Country Club and Training Centre, Tyle Kiln Cottage, Burnt Farm Ride, Theobalds Park Estate, Waltham Cross (EN2 9DY)(from Crews Hill train station a bit more than 15minutes walk)
When: currently confirming dates
Courses: (class description here)
Costs: currently confirming
Trainer: currently confirming

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625; website

Trick Training and Dancing

Canine Circus Dog Nanny London
The Incredible Canine Circus by The Dog Nanny (photo credits: photos courtesy of The Dog Nanny)

To teach tricks you may not need a course, considered how many books (and online tutorials) you can find on the topic. However, if you prefer the guide of a human instructor, there are some interesting alternatives:

1. The Incredibly Clever Canine Circus | by the Dog Nanny

Where: Hampstead Heath, North London
When: Twice a week, from 2 May to 6 June. Courses last 6 weeks and classes are 1 hour each, for up to 6 dogs and their owners.
Fabulous Foundation course: Wednesday mornings 11-12pm; Tuesday evenings 7-8pm.
Levels: 3 levels of class for participants to progress through (no prior training needed): Fabulous Foundation; Ingenious Intermediate; Astoundingly Advanced
Cost: £150 per course (6 weeks), early booking discounted cost is £120
Trainer: Deborah Colella, The Dog Nanny
Contacts: Deborah 07900 897708, fetchthedognanny@gmail.com; website The Dog Nanny

2. Doggy Dancing and Tricks | by Elmtree Happy Dogs Training School

Where: North London, Elmtree Canine Country Club and Training Centre, Tyle Kiln Cottage, Burnt Farm Ride, Theobalds Park Estate, Waltham Cross (EN2 9DY)(from Crews Hill train station a bit more than 15minutes walk)
When: from Monday 7th May 2018, 6-7pm, 5 weeks course
Courses: Doggy Dancing and Tricks (full class description here)
Costs: £60 for 5 weeks course
Trainer: currently confirming

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625; website

3. Superdogs | by Surrey and South London Dog Training and Behaviour

Where: South London, Battersea (Kathrine Low Settlement, 108 Battersea High Street, SW11 3HP) and Penge (St John’s Church, 20 St John’s Road, SE20 7EQ)
When: Starting Friday 4th May, 6-7pm, in Battersea, and Monday 7th May, 8.15-9.15pm in Penge
Courses: “Superdogs” 4 week course, to teach your dog to help around the house with laundry, tidying up, opening and closing doors, turning the lights on and off and more. Limited places.
Costs: £100 for the 4 weeks course
Trainer:  Adele Tuttlebee, BSc in Animal Science (Behaviour and Welfare)

Contacts: 07581199724 / 07703790825, website, link to book the Superdogs courses here.

Sports with your dog

If you want to take the chance to get fit too, there are also a few alternatives where you get more physically involved. There are some sports that you won’t be able to experience with your dog in London, like for instance indoor swimming (although we would love to see that some day!), but apart from classic jogging with your dog there are some other great chances to get your dog involved.

It is lovely to see that dog-friendly sport classes are finally available in London and, if you are into fitness or yoga, you will be interested to hear about the courses below, that allow you not to leave your dog at home while you go and work out or relax!

Fitness with your dog

Power Paws Fitness class
Photo courtesy of Power Paws Fitness
1. Power Paws Fitness

When and where: Wandsworth Common (half way between Bellevue Road and Routh Road) twice a week; Tooting Bec Common (Tooting Triangle) once a week
What: Workout focussed on the human, however, it tries to incorporate the dog whenever possible. Classes are 50 minutes long and structured as a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This means being constantly on the move (shuttle run set up with cones) but stay in the same safe area so dogs can be let off-lead.
Cost: Free trial class, then £10 per class, or £45 for the discounted class pack for 5 classes, or £85 for the 10 classes pack.
Trainers: Amber, personal trainer from LA who has been working at a PT in London for the last 5 years; Klara, with a corporate background in digital products.
Contacts: powerpawsfitness@gmail.com; website Power Paws Fitness

Dog Yoga | Doga

Doga

1. Doga Mahny

Dog yoga, or doga, is a human yoga practice that involves dogs in the classes, working on the bond between handler and dog.
Where: various venues in London (dates are added to our Dog Events Calendar as soon as they are out)
Cost: £22.50/£25 per class, £50 for 3 sessions , £75 for 6 weeks course
Teacher: Mahny Djahanguiri, certified Kids and Adult Yoga teacher, teaching diploma obtained through the British Wheel and Yoga Alliance
Contacts and website: doga@dogamahny.co.uk; website Doga Mahny

Dog sports online courses

What if all the courses are too far away or don’t fit your schedule? Or simply you cannot find a suitable course? You can still use online courses. There are some good ones out there. I have never personally used them, but I heard speaking good things about Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.


We hope to have given you some “food for paws”! Are we missing any courses? Let us know and we will add them to the list!

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