Rally obedience, or “Rally-O” as it has been termed by enthusiasts, is the latest American Kennel Club event to hit the show circuit. Rally-O combines characteristics of sports car racing, dog agility, and traditional obedience into a new fun sport. Not to be left out of the fun, Field Spaniel owners have entered this new sport with much enthusiasm and placed many titles on their dogs in these inaugural years of the sport.
Rally is timed, includes 12-20 performance stations, depending on the level of participation, and is scored by judges who watch for a smooth performance as well as skill in following the directions at each station.
As it does with obedience and agility, AKC offers titles in three Rally levels: Novice, Advanced and Excellent, with each one become progressively more difficult to achieve.
As in agility, each course is different every time and a layout is posted at ringside. Handlers also receive a printed copy of the course and can walk it without their dogs prior to the start of the class. Judges have more than three dozen stations to choose from when designing their courses.
Handlers may not use treats or toys in the ring, but may do anything else to encourage their dogs except physically touch them or make corrections with the leash.
Signs instruct teams to go fast or slow, to halt (dog must sit at heel), to make turns and circles, to reverse direction, to do a sit-stay-recall, or other basic obedience exercises.
Each team has a starting score of 100 points from which points are deducted for such faults as missed or incompletely performed stations, touching the dog, leash corrections, etc. The team with the highest score, (i.e.: fewest number of faults), wins first place, followed by the next highest score for second place, and so forth.
Getting Started in Rally
Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience.
The team of dog and handler moves continuously at a brisk, but normal, pace with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during the numbered exercises and between the exercise signs; however, perfect "heel position" is not required. Any faults in traditional obedience that would be evaluated and scored as a one-point deduction or more should be scored the same in Rally, unless otherwise mentioned in the Rally Regulations. After the judge's "Forward" order, the team is on its own to complete the entire sequence of numbered signs correctly.
Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Unless otherwise specified in these Regulations, handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, clap their hands, pat their legs, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler's arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.
Rally provides a link from the Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) program to obedience or agility competition, both for dogs and handlers. In addition, rally promotes fun and enjoyment for dogs at all levels of competition.
What is Rally?
AKC Rally is the new dog sport that is taking the nation by storm, a successful stepping stone from the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program to the world of obedience or agility. Rally offers both the dogs and handlers an experience that is fun and energizing. The canine team moves at their own pace, very similar to rally-style auto racing. Rally was designed with the traditional pet owner in mind, but it can still be very challenging for those who enjoy higher levels of competition.
A rally course includes 10 to 20 stations, depending on the level. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience. Communication between handler and dog is encouraged and perfect heel position is not required, but there should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler. The main objective of rally is to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport of rally at all times and under all conditions.
Levels of Competition
The three levels of competition in AKC Rally:
- All exercises are performed with the dog on leash.
- There is a requirement of 10-15 stations to complete with no more than five stationary exercises.
- The exercises performed vary from turning 360 degrees to changing paces during the course.
- Exhibitors at this level may clap their hands and pat their legs through the course.
- – this is the first level for those just getting started in competition.
- All exercises are performed off-leash.
- There is a requirement of 12-17 stations with no more than seven stationary exercises.
- Exercises include a jump as well as calling your dog to the front of you instead of to a heel position.
- – this is the second level, which includes more difficult exercises throughout the course.
- – this third and highest level of AKC Rally is the most challenging.
- Exercises are performed off-leash except for the honor exercise.
- There is a requirement of 15-20 stations, with no more than 7 stationary exercises.
- Handlers are only allowed to encourage their dogs verbally. Physical encouragement is not allowed at this level.
- The Excellent-level exercises include backing up three steps, while the dog stays in the heel position and a moving stand, while the handler walks around the dog.
A qualifying performance indicates that the dog has performed the required exercises according to the AKC Rally Regulations. Each performance is timed, but times are only counted if two dogs earn the same score.
All dogs and handlers begin with a perfect 100. A dog and handler team is awarded a qualifying score if it retains at least 70 points after the course has been completed. Once the team has completed the course, their score will be posted ringside.
The dogs must earn three qualifying scores under two different judges in order to receive a rally title. The titles that can be earned are:
Rally Novice: RN
Rally Advanced: RA
Rally Excellent: RE
Rally Advanced Excellent: RAE
The requirement for the RAE title is that the dog must qualify ten times in both the Advanced B class and the Excellent B class at the same trial.
Information about AKC Rally Trials
Contact AKC Customer Service at 919-233-9767 or Orderdesk@akc.org to inquire about rally information and the following resources: