Rally is a super fun way of taking your dog’s training forward. Rally mixes the cues taught in an obedience class with some aspects of agility. There is a designated course that dog and handler need to follow, but the team can move at their own pace. This dog sport includes a little of everything in dog training. From “sit-stay’s” where the handler moves behind the dog, to jumps, right or left turns with your dog, changes in speed and many more.
Due to the more relaxed environment at rally trials verses obedience trials, many regular dog owners take part in these competitions. The judges are looking for communication and team work between the dog and you (the handler), both during the numbered exercises and in between them. Though perfect “heel position” is not required, your dog should remain by your left side. The beginner levels of rally are with your dog on leash, as you and your dog become more proficient your dog will be off leash for most exercises. You are allowed as many verbal cues and hand signals as necessary throughout the course. You are allowed to talk, praise and encourage your dog throughout, but you may not touch or physically correct your dog. Any harsh, loud or intimidating signals are penalized.
A rally course will usually have between 10 and 20 stations, depending on the level you are competing at. The judge or dog trainer will provide you with the course design, so you can do a walk through and learn the course before you bring your dog into the ring. Some of the basic signs in rally are: turn right, turn left, 360 Right, sit, down, etc. And as you move forward in dog rally, the signs get more complex: down walk around dog, weave, jump, take steps back, etc.
A rally class for dogs is a great step to take after your dog has earned a Canine Good Citizen Title. Rally is a fun way to practice the basics your dog learnt in past dog training classes and learn more complex behaviors. Most dogs and handlers really enjoy this sport and can get quite competitive. The physical demands on both dog and handler are less strenuous than agility which makes it a great fit for most dog and handler teams. Make sure to look up dog Rally competitions and classes near you.