Rally Obedience: the next best thing to dog training?

Ever heard of Rally Obedience? This team sport for dogs is gaining popularity. The reason? Dogs of all breeds can practice it! Because the focus of Rally Obedience is not the physical strength, to team up with your dog you don't have to be an athlete. Still, there are a few things to know before starting.

Ever heard of the Rally Obedience dog training? This team sport for dogs is gaining popularity. The reason? Dogs of all breeds can practice it! Because the focus of Rally Obedience is not the physical strength, to team up with your dog you don’t have to be an athlete. Still, there are a few things to know before starting.

Rally Obedience (aka Rally-O) improves the communication with your dog. During practice, you learn that this sport is all about giving your dog the right motivation to perform the right command at the right time.

The team (dog & handler) focuses on developing communicative strategies to fulfill tasks and complete a course. Rally-O can be practiced at agonistic level. No matter the level at which you practice Rally Obedience, the key to success is to learn how to sync your pace with your dog’s.

Rally Obedience dog training: how does it work?

Rally Obedience is the mixture of classical obedience training and agility training. When your dog practices Rally-O, he or she learns how to obey to commands (typical of classical obedience training) while having good fun (typical of agility training). Unlike agility trainings, speed is not the focus of Rally Obedience. The real core of Rally-O is the chemistry between dog and handler

Rally Obedience begins with a pool of signs which, if combined, build a course. A course can be considered a complete exercise only when it consists of a certain number of signs (10 or 20 signs depending on the classes).

If you practice Rally-Obedience with your dog or if you train somebody else’s dog, you are a handler. If you are a handler you know that a well-designed Rally-O exercise includes at least one sign for each of these commands:

  • Basic commands (e.g.: sit, stay, come..)
  • Turns (90° – 180° – 270° – 360°)
  • Jumps
  • Slaloms/Spirals
  • Others

An example of a training session

Because there are around 50 signs to choose from, exercises always change to ensure that neither your dog or you will get bored. Rally Obedience is quite an easy training for you and your dog. You walk your dog through the course at a brisk pace and stop at appointed stations where there are signs with instructions on the skill to perform.

The difficulty of the course changes according to the team’s experience, for which you and your dog are categorized in classes. The American Kennel Club recognizes the following classes:

  • Novice
  • Advanced
  • Excellent

All three classes include A and B levels. Also, a separate class is dedicated to jumps.

An example of five signs

The handler interprets the signs and instructs while the dog keeps the heel position. Discover these five examples and remember that the difficulty increases from number one to five.

Example 1

Rally Obedience parcourThis example of a 90° turn to the right it is one of the easiest sign to perform. It looks the same in the traditional obedience training.

 Example 2

Rally Obedience parcour

This example of a 270° turn to the left is well performed when the team makes a small circle while always looking at the handler’s left, bearing in mind to keep heel position and not turning around the sign itself.

Example 3

Rally Obedience parcourThis is a more complex example. The handler takes three steps backward and changes directions. During the performance of the task, the dog never sits and the handler performs the change without any stops. After the change of direction, the handler continues walking the dog while keeping heeling position.

 Example 4

Rally Obedience parcourThis is a jump example. The handler conducts the dog to the jump while he or she passes by the obstacle. After the jump has been completed, the handler walks the dog keeping heel position.

 Example 5

Rally Obedience parcour
This is an exercise which begins with three pylons standing in a straight line. The explanation of the exercise is found on the first pylon. There the handler goes around the pylons while keeping the right.

These are official examples to be found in the AKC Rally Regulations which is courtesy of the American Kennel Club.

Rally Obedience: more than just dog training

The examples you have read about are representative of Really Obedience’s focus. To get better it is always advisable to work on the dog’s heel position and always communicate with your dog. Treats and encouraging words will make a dream team out of your dog and you! Really Obedience can serve the higher purpose of training your dog’s obedience in daily situations while keeping you and your pet fit and healthy.


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