So you’re a junior like me, and you want to show your dog every opportunity you get. Conformation is nice, but despite your terrific handling, you can only make your dog look so good, and it all comes down to how well your dog fits the breed standard. Agility and obedience are great, they show a bond between you and your animal and you can also help your dog look better. The best thing with these venues is that even if your dog isn’t performing its best one day, you can always train more and fix it for the next day.
But what if agility and obedience are too stressful, competitive and the training is too time consuming for you, like it is with many juniors. If this is the case, Rally-O is the sport for you.
I have shown in juniors for 7 years, obedience for about 5 years, and agility for about 3 years. When Rally-O (Rally for short) became a recognized titling class last year, I learned the rules right away.
There are three levels of rally: novice, advanced and excellent. The titles are RN, RA, and RE. Each title is earned with three qualifying legs in that level. There is also a RAE title which can be earned after the RE. My Golden Retriever, Treasure, has a RN, RA, and RE. I won 1st place at the 2005 Golden Retriever National Specialty with Treasure out of the excellent B class over 34 dogs. She had a perfect score of 100 points. It was the 2nd time she had earned a perfect score in rally. My two Siberians, Jasmine and Fancy, both have a RN titles, with Jasmine working on her RA.
The basic idea behind rally is that you have fun with your dog while performing various obedience based exercises. The judge makes a course with exercises unique to rally (such as a sit-down, or a 270 degree turn). Signs are set out in the ring which tells the handler what is required at that station. On average there are 13-16 stations. The handler and dog heels from sign to sign, in order, and performs the obstacle correctly. The unique part of rally is that you can talk to your dog and give as many signals to your dog as you want, without losing points. Smart handlers and quick thinkers excel in rally, even if their dogs aren’t perfect, because they know how to help their dogs get through the course even if they are having problems.
Novice is done entirely on leash, advanced and excellent are done off leash. In all the classes you are never further than a few feet from your dog at any time.
For juniors who want to try obedience or agility, or would just like
to put a title on their dog, this is a great class. Many training
schools offer classes in rally. In about ten weeks almost any dog
and handler team can be ready to show. Give Rally a try. It could
be exactly what you are looking for to form that special bond with