Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rally On!

First, let me just say... I love Rally Obedience! Love, love, Love It!
What is Rally, you may ask? (and you may!)
It's an event that has been described as a cross between Agility and regular Obedience. The handler and dog navigate a course (like Agility) but instead of tunnels and weave poles and such, the "obstacles" on the course consist of Obedience exercises. Signs on the course tell the handler what exercise is required. The signs are numbered in the order the handler and dog are to perform them, and (as in Agility) the handler has the opportunity to walk the course before the class starts without the dog, in order to become familiar with the course.

For example, this sign directs the handler to come to a halt with the dog sitting in Heel position. Then the handler directs the dog to lay Down (still in Heel position). The handler tells the dog to Stay, and walks completely around the dog and back to Heel position. Once back in Heel position, the handler pauses to release the dog from the Stay and they proceed to the next exercise.

Also like Agility, throughout the course the handler is permitted to talk to the dog, give hand signals, use body language etc. in order to communicate what the handler wants the dog to do. This is one of the reasons Rally has become so popular, because in regular Obedience the handler is strictly limited in what you can say to the dog during the exercises, or what hand signals you can use.

The ability to talk freely to your dog during a Rally course makes it easier to keep the dog "up" and also is more relaxing for the handler!

I've been teaching Rally classes since the summer of 2004, and in 2005 Rally became an AKC titling event. I love how Rally is at once a great option for novice dogs and handlers just coming out of a basic Beginner obedience class; and at the same time is a fun option and stress reliever for advanced dogs and handlers. Since it is easier than regular obedience - and although some jumping is required at the Advanced and Excellent level, it is minimal - Rally is also a terrific option for a veteran dog who can't compete any longer in regular Obedience or Agility but who is too healthy to be happy just sitting at home.

For more information, go to RallyObedience.com or to the AKC Rally Regulations

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