Dog-friendly LondonThings to Do

A guide to dog sport clubs and courses in London

By March 3, 2018 January 21st, 2019 One Comment

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!

Dog sports in London: from agility to trick training, finding a course near you

“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.

Agility, obedience, flyball, heelwork to music, working trials, rally, canicross, trick training, are only some of the dog sports you can do with your do. If, instead, you are looking for an indoor fitness activity for yourself, check out our guide to dog-friendly gyms and studios in London.

We are currently updating this guide with 2019 information, so you will find a mix of 2018 and 2019 information at the moment.

DOG SPORT COURSES

  • Agility
  • Hoopers
  • Flyball
  • Canicross
  • Working Trials and Scent Work
  • Trick Training and Dancing

Agility courses in London

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’ agility classes

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 – course dates for 2019
Cost: £90 (for 2018; currently confirming 2019 rates)
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-8.15pm
Cost: £80 (for 2018; currently confirming 2019 rates)
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) (currently confirming 2019 rates)
Trainer: Angus Macfarlane, competing in agility
Contacts: Angus 07973 830075

4. City Paws Club agility course

Where: Fulham
When: Starting 17th February 2019 for 4 weeks course
Courses: classes 10am, 11am, 12am
Cost: Currently confirming 2019 rates
Contacts: Matt matt@citypawsclub.co.uk; website City Paws Club

Agility pug

5. Alpha Dog Training agility classes

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

6. Super Hounds agility course

Where: South London, Kingston Riding Centre, 38 Crescent Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT2 7RG
What: fun, non-competitive agility classes
When: Monday Evenings, from 7th January 2019
7pm – 8pm Beginners
8pm – 9pm Intermediate
Costs: £15.00 per class payable as a block of six £90; classes can be taken over a period of 8 weeks.
Trainer: Diane Kasperowicz – APDT 01250, IMDT 8013, PPG, Cert. TPTD Dog Trainer and Behaviour Counsellor 

Contacts: diane@superhounds.co.uk; website

7. Dog Stories fun agility classes

Where: South London, Staines upon Thames TW18 3LX​ (at Dog Stories’ daycare facility)
What: fun, non-competitive agility classes, maximum 6 dogs per class, all levels welcome (same class), end of term ceremony and BBQ
When: 8 classes of 75-minutes each
Costs: £160 for 8 classes
Trainer: Panos

Contacts and more info: 07943 701 706 or email panos@dogstories.co.uk; bookings on the website

8. Agility at 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, dates TBC
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: TBC
Trainer: TBC

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625

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. Happy Dogs Training School’s hoopers classes

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: TBC
Costs: 2018 rates were £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: TBC
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.

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).

Canicross in London

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

2. Canicross London

What: A group organising free canicross social runs
Where: Around Hampton, Richmond and surrounding Thames path areas.
Cost: Social runs are free
Contact: You can join the Facebook group here.

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: TBC
Courses: (class description here)
Costs: TBC
Trainer: TBC

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

Where: South London, Battersea (Kathrine Low Settlement, 108 Battersea High Street, SW11 3HP), Penge (St John’s Church, 20 St John’s Road, SE20 7EQ) and Streatham
When: Friday night tricks club 6pm in Battersea (except the second Friday of the month); Superdogs 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, location: Penge and Streatham

“Friday night tricks club”: 50 minutes per week, open to all dogs of all levels.
Costs: Friday Night Tricks Club £25 per class; Superdogs £100 four weeks
Trainer:  Adele Tuttlebee, BSc in Animal Science (Behaviour and Welfare)

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

2. Super Hounds’ trick training classes

Dates and location: TBC (South London)
Cost: £130 for a 6 weeks course
Trainer: Diane Kasperowicz – APDT 01250, IMDT 8013, PPG, Cert. TPTD Dog Trainer and Behaviour Counsellor 
Contacts: diane@superhounds.co.uk; website

3. 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: TBC
Courses: Doggy Dancing and Tricks (full class description here)
Costs: 2018 rates were £60 for 5 weeks course
Trainer: TBC

Contacts: Head office 0208 367 4625; website

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

The Dog Nanny’s  Incredibly Clever Canine Circus is currently suspended due to her move overseas, but she will be back in a few years.

Sports with your dog in London

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!

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!

One Comment

  • The Essex Dog Training Centre based in Brentwood have created an ELITE SUPER DOG TEST for dogs that are trained to a very good level of overall control.
    18 unique exercises and a course of special equipment which will includes open staircase,barrels,high ramp,40m dark tunnel,wobble floor,tyre walk,maze,low swing bridge,seek , bite/manwork off ground. High A frame.
    Control in heelwork and recall is paramount over all exercises.This test has been carried out by a number of dogs successfully.
    180 POINTS ARE POSSIBLE, BUT HANDLER AND DOG ACHIEVING 165 POINTS AND ABOVE WILL RECEIVE A CERTIFICATE.
    No dog or handler will be allowed to take part unless they train for the exercises in the test area on no less than three occasions,these training sessions will be free of charge, entry fee on test day will be £10. No dog under 1 year of age may take part.
    IF YOU FEEL YOUR DOG IS UP TO THIS SPECIAL TASK and you wish to attend for practice training sessions, Sunday mornings are ideal from 9am
    Please inform us by email if you are attending as places will now be restricted. Entry forms/Rules can be collected in person at the centre on first training session
    Please note. THE ESSEX DOG TRAINING CENTRE HAVE NO AVAILABLE PLACES FOR OUR NORMAL TRAINING CLASSES,AND IS NOT LOOKING FOR NEW MEMBERS.

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