If you have never heard of rally obedience, you are in for a treat. Rally obedience, or “rally O” for short, is a fast-paced, fun sport for active dogs and their pet parents. The sport consists of a variety of obstacles that people and their dogs must negotiate as quickly as possible.
In addition to providing physical exercise, rally obedience also presents a fun platform for dogs and their people to get out, meet new friends and learn new things. If you are interested in getting involved in rally, this article can help you learn the basics.
What is Rally?
Rally is quite a bit like a regular obedience class, except for the fact that the course is much more freeform and dogs and their handlers proceed through the course’s stations without waiting for a judge’s instruction. The course features anywhere from 10–20 stations designed to test a dog’s responsiveness and training. Although the stations vary with the difficulty of the course, a typical station requirement may ask a dog and handler to turn 270° to the right or for the dog to reverse directions, sit, stay or make a full circle.
There are three different levels of rally obedience: Novice, Advanced and Excellent. In the Novice courses, the commands are generally simple and tailored to younger dogs or dogs without much obedience experience. In the Advanced and Excellent classes, however, pets and their parents may be required to navigate jumps or other difficult obstacles.
How to Learn Rally
The best way to get involved in the rally community is to locate a club in your area. Five sanctioning groups govern the sport: the American Kennel Club; World Cynosport; Canines and Humans United; Canine Work and Games; and the United Kennel Club. The sport is open to mixed dog breeds and anyone can participate.
To get started in the sport, locate an AKC club in your area and register yourself in the level of class in which you feel most comfortable. A local club will be able to teach you the basic steps of rally and ensure that you and your dog are prepped for the heat of competition. Keep in mind that it’s important to practice what you learn in rally class at home. Because rally is a judged event, it’s possible for dogs and their handlers to lose points for breaks in obedience or sub-par commands. That being said, take your new rally tricks and practice them at home in short, frequent sessions for the best possible training results.
When you are ready to register for your first class, ensure that your dog is up to date on all shots and that you’ve registered with any governing body required for the competition in question. After that, go out there and have fun! Rally is a sport designed to promote partnership between dogs and their handlers and, when you have done your homework and practiced your commands, the sport can be a great way to learn new things and have fun together.