Rally Might be the Perfect Starter Sport for your Primitive Dog!
Is traditional obedience a bit too structured for you? Are you just starting out with obedience and want to be able to reward your dog with verbal cues and “atta boy/girl” and possibly food? Do you want to build on that teamwork and bond between you and your dog and possibly earn titles? Then Rally Obedience might be just what you are looking for!
For those not familiar with Rally-O; it was created about fifteen years ago from what obedience instructors and competitors call “doodling”. Doodling is what is used to practice pivots; right turns; left turns and even beautiful straight sits for traditional obedience. You can “doodle” in a small space and it doesn’t require renting a building to practice. The tighter your pivots and turns are the better and who doesn’t love a perfect straight sit in front? Everyone was having so much fun that signs and courses were created and voila! Rally obedience was born!
There are several venues that offer Rally and most now offer the competition to all breeds; including mixes. The most popular are AKC and World Cynosport Rally Limited (WCRL formerly APDT) but UKC, ASCA, and C-Wags also offer Rally as well. I personally have competed in AKC, WCRL and a bit in UKC. My Australian Cattle Dog Aloha has titles in AKC, WCRL and UKC and my other ACD, Squeak, achieved the highest title available in WCRL as well as his Rally Excellent title in AKC which were some of my proudest moments as he is dog reactive/aggressive!
All the venues use signs that you have to follow in a certain order. Each venue starts a team with a certain amount of points: AKC is 100; WCRL is 200. The only direction you will receive from the judge is at the start and he/she will ask if you are ready and then it is up to you to follow the signs until the end. Deductions can be taken for a multitude of reasons so it is best to read the rule book depending on the venue you wish to pursue. In AKC you can give multiple commands but in WCRL each extra command is a 3 point deduction so you need to be familiar in the venue that you are entered in. The higher levels have more difficult signs and may include jumps; serpentines; figure eights with and without food bowls; etc. All beginning levels start with your dog on-leash. The higher levels such as Excellent in AKC and Level 3 in WCRL may include signal exercises similar to traditional obedience. The run is also time based and you can actually “time out” in some venues. When Rally was first introduced it was likened to obedience with an agility twist!
It is one of my favorite competition venues and has helped build great teamwork with my dogs. I highly recommend that you give it a try. Take a class and see if you and your Couch Wolf can spend some time in the ring and learning something new!
Does your dog compete in Rally? Share your brags in our forum!