WHAT IS RALLY?
In Rally, the dog and handler perform exercises as indicated on a written sign at each station. The team moves through the stations as quickly and accurately as possible while having as much fun as possible!
After the Judge’s “FORWARD” command, your team is off. The exceptional feature of Rally Obedience is that handlers may talk to their dogs, praising them, and giving repeated verbal commands and/or hand signals at any time and as often as desired throughout the competition.
When arranged in the ring in preparation for a trial, the signs are numbered sequentially to indicate the course the handler must take during the performance. The team of dog and handler heel from sign to sign and perform the exercises indicated by the sign at each location. Except for giving the handler clearance to begin the performance, the Judge gives no further orders or directions as the team continues throughout the performance with no breaks in the activity.
WHO CAN DO RALLY?
Rally was designed with the average pet dog owner in mind, as a way to introduce them into the world of dog sports and for people to just have fun with their dogs.
Whether you've just completed your CGC or are looking for something else to do, or you want to hone up on your obedience skills, Rally has something to offer you and your companion.
Rally is a wonderful sport for dogs and handlers who experience "ring stress", or for whatever reasons, would not be successful in traditional obedience. The Novice level is all on leash, you are allowed to use multiple hand and verbal cues, and you can talk to and encourage your dog throughout the performance. This makes it a great place to work through both of your ring nerves and to have some success in the ring.
Rally also makes a great entry-level class for both obedience, agility and freestyle.
But don't be fooled! Rally is not as easy as it looks. You must work closely as a team, as you negotiate the course, heeling from sign to sign, performing one of the many different exercises, some quite complex (there are 50 different exercises to chose from).
My Feelings About Knowing If You are Ready For Rally
For the inexperienced handler/owner who has never trained a dog before:
Dogs who can sit & down when walking with you on your left side, dogs who can come to front (face you), dogs who can stay on a sit/down while you walk around them, would do well in a Beginning Rally class. There are Rally Classes at most Dog Training Clubs. (These clubs help anyone to learn how to train their pet dogs to become Good Canine Citizens).
For the experienced handlers:
Most experienced handlers can work with a beginning dog and do well in Rally. Understanding the signs is the most difficult part of Rally. Usually your trained dog will do just fine if you understand what you're doing on a Rally course.
Portrayed are some of the exercises and signs that are in Rally. Exercises incorporate turns, pivots, fronts, finishes, jumps, sits, downs and stays, and of course, heeling (forward & backwards!)
270 Right Turn: This is basically a ? turn to the right. A round-about way of making a left turn.
Spiral Right – Dog Outside: You and your dog spiral around like a paperclip around to the 3rd cone to the right, back up around the second cone, then around the first cone, then you exit. (Hint: you'll get dizzy if you look at your dog while doing it!)
HALT-Down-Sit: Remember your puppy pushups from puppy kindergarten?
Offset Figure 8: Performed around the cones like a normal Figure 8 in Obedience, except there are distractions on either side. They may be toys or bowls of food. Better brush up on your "Leave It"!
HALT-180 Pivot Left-HALT: With the dog sitting in heel position, you pivot 180 in place to the left. Your dog moves with you and sits in heel position.
To get a complete list, check out the resources listed here.
WHAT MAKES RALLY DIFFERENT?
You can talk to, encourage, and praise your dog throughout the entire performance
Each run is a different series of exercises (you never know what the course will be until you get there)
Having fun is more important than precision; emphasis is on teamwork
More relaxed atmosphere; great place for nervous dogs (and handlers) to get their feet wet!
No group sits or downs, or out of sight stays; lower jump heights (great for retired obedience dogs)
Something for dogs and handlers at all skill levels