Rally Obedience Trial Training Information
dog must run through an obstacle course of signs that dictate the exercise to be performed. The goal is to get through the course as quickly as possible while performing all the exercises correctly. Unlike in traditional obedience, handlers may give multiple commands, praise their dogs, and talk to their dogs throughout the course, and judges never touch the dog or give extensive commands to the handler in any of the exercises.
Rally is very similar to Obedience in the training requirements. Levels range from Novice, which is completed on a loose leash, through Advanced, which is off leash, up through Excellent, which is off leash and also requires a brief stay exercise at the end of the course. Dogs must be able to heel well on leash, perform a variety of commands without hesitation, and work under distractions. Jumps are also included in all Rally courses, although the jump heights are much lower than in traditional Obedience or Agility.
The Right Dog for the Job
Just about any dog can do Rally-O. Those that really enjoy it are highly motivated to please their owners and enjoy working in an excited environment. Rally dogs also need to be able to focus for a long period of time since Rally courses usually take between one and two minutes to complete, longer than any of the Obedience individual exercises. Rally dogs need to enjoy challenges and need to be physically fit enough to make it over small jumps.
The AKC's site, www.akc.org, is the go-to place for finding training clubs; show schedules can be found under the "events" tab. Good show schedules can also be found at www.infodog.com under show information. You can search events by state at this site. All dogs must be registered with the AKC to compete; mixed breed and non-pedigreed dogs can be registered in the Canine Partners program. The best place to start for guidance on training is a local All Breed club (the all breed clubs in my area are Cleveland All Breed Training Club and Akron All Breed Training Club, for example). These clubs have knowledge about AKC events and can teach the prospective owner and their dog how to train for AKC Rally Obedience. Otherwise, ask prospective training clubs whether or not they have helped train competing AKC Obedience or Rally dogs.
Also, be prepared to memorize the Rally signs! There are 300 of them total, 100 for Novice, 200 for Advanced, and 300 for Excellent. Look on the AKC's website under the Obedience Rule Book for the complete list of Rally signs.