The endurance test is designed to test a dog’s fitness and willingness to run 20kms in less than two hours. Dogs run with a handler who either runs or bikes the course. A pace keeper rides up the front of the pack with the dog and handler teams in single file behind them. There are time keepers out on the course, making sure that the dogs and handlers aren’t going too fast or too slow.
The ET is run in three stages—8kms in the first stretch and 6kms in the two remaining legs. Dogs and handlers are allowed a break between each leg to have a drink and a short rest. Dogs are also checked over by vets in the break to make sure that they are well enough to continue and check that the dog hasn’t done itself an injury in the test. Vets also take the temperature of the dog to make sure that no dogs overheat. Any dog that is deemed unfit to go on to the next leg of the test (or if it is at the end, complete the willingness test) is disqualified from the event.
A willingness test is performed by all dogs at the start and end of the trial to make sure that the dogs are still willing to work with the handler. It is a simple obedience exercise of a small amount of heel work, a sit and a recall on lead.
Though some breeds of dog tend to be more suited to the ET than others, all breeds are eligible and with a bit of fitness work, most dogs can complete the test and earn the ET title.