Rally obedience is neither traditional obedience nor traditional agility, but something between the two. In traditional obedience, the sequence of the exercises is specified in the rule book and is the same for each exhibitor. In rally obedience, like agility, the sequence will vary at individual trials but each exhibitor runs the same course. In rally classes, the dog and handler move continuously through a course of 10 - 20 numbered stations, performing the exercises indicated by a sign at each station. After the judge’s command to start, the team is on its own to complete the sequence correctly.
Unlike traditional obedience in which the handler cannot talk to the dog during an exercise, in Rally Obedience unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is encouraged. Traditional obedience skills such as heeling, sits, downs, fronts, finishes and the stand are used as well as combinations of turns and changes of pace. It is permissible for the handler to talk, praise, and give encouragement to the dog, however the handler may not touch the dog or make corrections with the leash. The judge scores each team. Individual scores are determined based on the total points for the performance of all the exercises. Each run is timed, but the timing is only used as a tie breaker if there is a tie in scoring for placements. At the first level, Rally Novice, the dog is on lead; at the next two levels, Rally Advanced and Rally Excellent, the dog is off lead and low jumps are included.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) currently offers rally obedience as regular, titling classes with some newer, non-regular classes also being offered. Rally obedience competition is also offered by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), the United Kennel Club (UKC), and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Contact your local obedience club to see if they offer classes in rally obedience. Many traditional obedience classes cover the skills needed to succeed at rally as well.
Rally is one of the several areas from which points can be accumulated in order to achieve the VIP Versatility Certificate or Versatility Certificate Excellent award.
To learn more about all things Poodle, and to support health research for this wonderful breed, please consider becoming a member of VIP.