What is Rally, anyways?
Rally Obedience, or Rally-O, is one of the newest dog sports on the block. Like agility, this sport emphasizes dogs and handlers working together to complete a timed course. These courses are made up of different numbered signs which tell the handler what they need to do at each stop. Signs can be as simple as asking your dog to sit or advanced as moving downs and jumps! Because the sport is based in heeling, many Lucky Dog students learn Rally to prepare for therapy work and to keep their loose leash walking skills sharp. Watch this highlight video from the first AKC Rally Nationals to see Rally-O in action:
I've heard of formal obedience, is this the same thing?
Kind of! Rally-O was originally designed by Charles Kramer with the goal of updating formal obedience to be more fun for people and their dogs, whether they had 50 years of competing under their belt or just wanted to do something more with their pets. Because of this, Rally-O emphasizes attitude over precision in the ring. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong! Rally-O encourages communication, praise, and a great relationship between dog and handler.
Who can do Rally?
Anyone can compete in Rally! Dogs must be at least 6 months old to compete in most trials, but it's never too early to start learning. In fact, most Rally-O skills are the same things we want our dogs to learn anyways- things like walking nicely beside us, paying attention when we ask them to sit or lay down, and listening even in distracting situations. Dogs of all breeds, mixes, shapes, and sizes are eligible to compete, and disabled dogs and handlers are eligible to compete as well!
How can I get started?
Just like any other dog sport, Rally requires a good working relationship between dog and handler. At Lucky Dog, we require completion of Basic and Advanced Manners or instructor approval before enrolling in our Intro to Rally class. To learn more about this fun and engaging sport, check out the Cynosport and AKC websites.