Starting Rally Obedience

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No matter how fast your dog is and how much agility training you do, a good grounding in obedience will help.  Like many dogs, Sasha gets very excited and wound up around anything agility and it can really benefit this type of dog to do some work away from the exciting stuff and to be more controlled in a calmer environment.  

What is Rally Obedience?

Rally Obedience is a relatively new sport in Britain.  It consists of a number of exercises which are set out in a course, much like an agility course.  The dog and handler work their way round the course completing each exercise as they go. Each exercise is clearly set out using a standard set of rally signs like the ones shown below.

In rally there is no harsh handling or constant correction and no choke chains or slip collars.  All dogs work in a flat collar or a fixed harness.

Up until now the Association of Pet Dog Trainers has had responsibility for the rules and the running of rally events and training.  However, the sport has become so popular that they felt it was time for it to be taken forward by the Kennel Club.  The APDT will continue to give advice and support for the next 6 months (up until April 2013) so that any competitions that have been organised under their aegis can still go ahead. 

There is also another organisation called Talking Dogs which has their own rally obedience rules. This is much like the situation with agility where you can compete under a different set of rules from different organisations. 


If you would like to join a rally class you there is a list of rally clubs on the APDT website which may be able to enrol you in training classes. Alternatively, some other dog clubs are now teaching rally and sometimes individual trainers will also offer classes.  If you do a search on the internet you may be able to find a trainer near you, if not then a local dog club may be able to help you find a rally trainer.  

If you can't find a trainer but you'd like to have a go there's no reason why anyone you shouldn't be able to start training at home.  The individual exercises for level 1 are relatively simple and if you currently train in obedience, Good Citizen, agility or any other discipline then it should be fairly straightforward to train for

At level 1 dogs are worked on a loose lead.  rally is not quite as strict as formal obedience in that heelwork and exercises such as sit can be a bit looser.  For example, a slightly crooked sit won't lose you marks but if a sit is very crooked it will.  You can talk to your dog and give hand signals and a dog can receive praise and encouragement. 

Harsh handling forms no part of rally and a person would be excused from a show if they handled a dog in this way.  Kindness and consistency in training is the key. 

If you want to find out more about rally the Kennel Club website has lots of information.  As we progress with our training I'll add some videos to show the individual exercises.  In the photo on the right we're having a bit of fun in the garden and I've set out a mini course.  Sasha is just completing a spiral right exercise and is working on a nice loose lead.  It isn't long before Jamie wants to join in.  He does lovely heelwork off lead but the trouble starts when Sasha hijacks his lesson and then they both want a titbit.  Have fun!


Update April 2012
At our first agility show on 1st April the rally training proved to be well worth the effort.  Sasha was still just as daft in the ring and very excited to be at the first outdoor show of the season.  For the first time since I can remember though people said they couldn't hear her!  We were actually able to wait our turn quietly near the ring while Bernie queued for us.  We had a perfect sit and wait until it was our turn....and only then was all hell let loose!

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