Don't Dally, Try Rally!
I'm so excited to take the time to talk about one of my very favorite dog sports, Rally Obedience! One of the fastest-growing competitive dog sports today, Rally combines dog obedience with an obstacle course, and is loved by dogs of all ages, breeds, and levels of training experience, and their handlers.
In a Rally competition, a judge will set up a unique course in a large training ring with around 15 signs. Each sign will show a task, and your goal as a handler/dog team is to heel through the course and follow the instructions on each of the signs as you pass them. Many signs will simply tell you which way to heel: “Fast Pace,” “Slow Pace,” “Left Turn,” “U-turn,” etc. Other signs will require you to stop and do an obedience behavior: stop and have your dog sit, cue your dog to lay down and stay while you walk all the way around him, etc.
You and your dog are judged on everything from how closely the dog heels with you between signs (does he pull forward and drag you around the ring?), to how fluently he completes each sign (does he stop and sit directly beside you or does he try to go say hi to the spectators before he sits?), and given a score based on your performance. If your score is high enough its considered a “Qualifying” score, or “Q;” get three Qs and your dog will earn a Title in Rally!
My collie, Keegan, and I started competing in Rally a few years ago. In our very first trial we earned a Second Place, and in only two weekends we had earned our first Rally Obedience title!
In honor of the fact that Keegan is now Seven years old, I present to you...
Elizabeth Morgan, trainer and owner of Alabama Dog Academy, has always found leash walking to be the most fun behavior to train.