Kennel Club Code of Conduct

The Kennel Club publishes new code of conduct


The Kennel Club has published a new Code of Conduct to remind exhibitors and competitors of their responsibilities whilst taking part in all canine activities and also when discussing shows, trials and events online.

Whilst the Kennel Club believes that the overwhelming majority of people taking part in dog activities do so in a responsible and sportsmanlike manner, it is concerned at the increasing number of complaints which it has received about incidents of abuse, in particular through the negative use of social media.

The guidance offered in the new Code of Conduct is included to help ensure that everyone participating in dog activities is free to do so in an enjoyable and fun way, especially the dogs themselves. The code is intended for use primarily as a guide, but does outline some of the penalties which the Kennel Club has at its disposal to deal with serious cases of transgression. As such, it should be read in conjunction with relevant regulations as listed in the Kennel Club Year Book.

Over recent years, there has been a rapid growth in the use of social media as a form of instant communication and there is a need for those who use Facebook, blogs and chat rooms etc to understand their responsibilities. For this reason, there is a specific section within the Code of Conduct giving general guidelines on participation on social media websites.

A word from the Kennel Club
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Communications Director, said: “Thousands of people take part in a wide range of canine activities, week in week out, because they are a fun way to spend time with their dogs and they get to meet others who share common interests. Undoubtedly, the vast majority do so in a well-mannered and sportsmanlike manner, however rarely a week goes by without the Kennel Club being contacted by someone who feels that they have been abused or slighted in some way by a fellow competitor, either at an event or more frequently through the internet.

“As a result, we felt that the time was right to remind everyone involved in the world of dogs that it is essential that anyone who wishes to attend a show, trial or other event should be free to do so without fear of anything which might spoil their enjoyment. The world of dogs is still under great scrutiny and it is important that we continue to show unity in our enjoyment of our hobbies. We hope that the code will be seen in a positive light and will be of benefit to all.”

Copies of the new code will be available on the Kennel Club stand at the Bournemouth, Welsh Kennel Club and Darlington championship shows over the coming months as well as the International Agility Festival, and at all future events which the Kennel Club attends. Copies can also be obtained by contacting Hayley Swann-Ross in the Canine Activities Team on 0844 463 3980 ext 319 and is available to download from the Activities and Events section of the Kennel Club website.


The Kennel Club Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct has been developed to set out the Kennel Club’s
expectations for all those taking part in or attending events under its jurisdiction
along with general guidelines on the use of social media.

Why do we need this Code?
We are all under intense scrutiny in terms of the pedigree dog world and dog
breeding generally. The advice and guidance offered in this document are not
meant to penalise or cause difficulty but are there for the protection of all of us
and particularly the dog – unity and co-operation is therefore vital.

What we expect from you
As with all sports, the Kennel Club expects all exhibitors and competitors to
conduct themselves in a responsible manner and to ensure that their dogs are
properly taken care of throughout the period of the event and do not become
a nuisance to other dogs or to other attendees. Below are expectations which
should be followed. These are not exhaustive and should be read in conjunction
with relevant regulations as listed in the Kennel Club Year Book. A breach of
these provisions may be referred to the General Committee for disciplinary
action under Kennel Club Rules and Regulations.

• Conduct - participants have a duty both to their dogs and to others to make
licensed events friendly and welcoming, and are expected to be co-operative
and above all create a safe environment for all to enjoy their time at licensed
• Sportsmanship - participants should conduct themselves at all times in an
appropriate fashion and should display good manners and respect towards
other participants, show officials and to the judges.
• Any verbal communication with a judge should take place after judging has
taken place and must be conducted in a polite and professional manner.

Code of Conduct
• Abusive or aggressive behaviour towards anyone at the show – including the
judge, other participants, show management or other officials - will not be
tolerated under any circumstances (further information appears later in this
publication regarding harassment).
• Do not interfere with any dog whilst it is being judged.
• Smoking is not permitted whilst exhibiting or whilst a dog is under test or in
breach of the law.
• Mobile phones should be turned off whilst exhibiting or whilst your dog is
under test.
• If you have children, do not allow them to touch any dogs unless you have the
permission of the owner for them to do so. Be aware of where your children
are, and what they are doing, at all times. Take special care around benching
areas where dogs may react to an unexpected approach.

• All dogs must be of the correct temperament to enable the judge to examine
the exhibit, independently of the exhibitor’s assistance.
• Sparring between dogs is discouraged.
• Dogs are not permitted to wear muzzles of any kind whilst being judged.

A Zero Tolerance approach
No-one should be subject to intimidation or made to feel alarmed or distressed
or put in fear of reprisal. Harassment is a criminal offence. To that end the
Kennel Club adopts a zero tolerance towards all type of harassment activity.
Harassment may be defined as causing alarm, distress and anxiety and fear
of physical violence or other threat, offensive statements, verbal abuse and

Conduct may include speech, obstruction and so on. As such conduct may
involve a criminal offence the police may be involved and it may be that the
Kennel Club will defer any action pending the outcome of such investigation
and/or prosecution.

It goes without saying that the Kennel Club expects courtesy and co-operation
to be shown towards all staff and organisers at any Kennel Club licensed event.
Whilst the pressures and tensions which arise at competitive level are understood,
any aggression or abuse towards those who are simply undertaking their jobs
for the benefit and interest of the exhibitor/competitor and the audience and
ultimately the dog itself cannot be tolerated.

Use of Social Media
The rapid growth of social media technologies combined with their ease of use
and pervasiveness make them attractive channels of communication. However,
these tools also hold the possibility of a host of unintended consequences. To
help you identify and avoid potential issues we have provided some examples
of best practices which are intended to help you understand, from a wide range
of perspectives, the implications of participation in social media.

General Guidelines
Maintain Privacy

Do not post confidential or proprietary information. Do not discuss a situation
involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their
permission. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present
in any public forum. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the
newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or ten years from now?
Does it Pass the Publicity Test
If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face
conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it will not be acceptable
for a social networking site.
Think Before You Post
There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up
posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded
or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you
feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are
calm and clear-headed.
Understand Your Personal Responsibility
You are personally responsible for the content you publish on blogs or any
other form of user-generated content. Be mindful that what you publish will be
public for a long time—protect your privacy.

Use of Social Media
Be Aware of Liability

You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of
others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be
copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined
by the courts). Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt
Be Accurate
Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It’s better to verify
information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction
Correct Mistakes
If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If
you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make
it clear that you have done so.
Respect Others
You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you
are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing
with a concept or person.
Respect Your Audience
Don’t use personal insults, obscenity, also show proper consideration for others’
privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive. Users are free to discuss
topics and disagree with one another, but be respectful of others’ opinions. You
are more likely to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while
discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
Take the High Ground
Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss
ideas and situations civilly. Don’t pick fights online.



Clarification of the operation of the Kennel Club social media policy


Following the recent publication of the Social Media Policy as part of the introduction of its new Code of Conduct, the Kennel Club would like to clarify the intended operation of this policy in relation to the use of social media.

Within the Kennel Club Code of Conduct is a separate section entitled ‘Use of social media’. This section is intended as a general guidance policy with a simple message reminding users of social media that they should treat other people with the same courtesy as they would wish to be treated. There is a minority who currently use the distance and/or anonymity of online interaction to insult or offend others. Some of the complaints received have given us an indication of how a small minority is hurting all of us by indulging in what can only be described as spiteful, time wasting and very disappointing conduct.

However, the Kennel Club, along with many other companies and governing bodies, has no direct remit or authority to censor material on the internet, or to censure those involved. It is presently unable to intervene directly, except in certain serious circumstances, where the person involved holds some official capacity recognised by the Kennel Club such as an approved judge, and their conduct is considered to incompatible with their standing.

Breed clubs may feel able to apply the social media guidance to officials and members at club level and through their own internal procedures, and request that inappropriate content be removed and not repeated. Through this option, it is hoped that peer pressure might prevail within individual breeds as to what is and is not acceptable when discussing either people or dogs online.

If necessary, and in appropriate cases a complainant may need to seek the advice and protection of the law, particularly in cases of extreme harassment or defamation.

Ultimately the most effective and practical way to deal with offending material is simply not to read it and to remove those seeking to offend or insult from Facebook pages or groups and never to engage in exchanges which you feel are inappropriate either to yourself or dogs in general.





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