If you’re looking for a fun sport to engage in with your dog that’s physically easy and emphasizes building a strong relationship with a positive spin, Rally may be the event for you!
Rally comes in many forms and is offered by several venues but most operate along the same general principles. You follow through a course with numbered signs that indicate different behavior for you and your dog to perform. As you advanced through the program, the behaviors will become more difficult and increase in number. Some typical signs you might see are heeling, making turns, walking in a figure eight pattern, and combinations of sit, down and stand. As you move up there is even some agility that involves jumps.
Why is Rally great for dogs?
What makes Rally different from “traditional” competitive obedience is the emphasis on fun and your interaction with your dog. You cannot reward your dog with treats, toys or other items during the course, but you can talk to your dog and encourage him along the way. Another great thing about Rally is that all dogs can compete, including mixed breeds. All ages of dogs and people are encouraged as well. Many venues even allow accommodations for dogs and people with disabilities, and it’s a fairly low impact sport so you and your dog don’t need to be prime physical specimens to excel.
Sarah Filipiak, CDBC, of Best Pets Dog Training (Athens, OH), and an active Rally trainer and competitor, encourages dog guardians to give Rally a try: “Rally is a fun way to sharpen your dog's obedience skills and to practice high-stakes behaviors, like recall and stay, in a supportive environment. You don't need to invest in any expensive equipment or fancy gear to participate in Rally. You only need your dog, a collar, leash, and some treats -- a clicker is optional. My dogs are more focused on me in public, and more eager to offer appropriate behavior, as a result of our Rally training."
If you find you enjoy Rally and want to take the plunge into competition, Rally can be good option for the first-time, intimidated competitor. “Rally trials are friendly events where there is a real sense of camaraderie among competitors. Dog/handler teams can even retry exercises and still qualify, and teams can stay in any level as long as they like until they feel comfortable moving up,” says Ann Allums, Rally Coordinator for World Cynosport Rally.
Where can you take Rally classes?
To find out where you can take classes in Rally and maybe even enter a competition, you can contact the various venues that run Rally trials. Some of these include:
- World Cynosport Rally
- American Kennel Club
- United Kennel Club
- Australian Shepherd Club of America
- Canadian Association of Rally Obedience
Rally-FrEe for dogs
A new type of Rally has recently emerged called Rally-FrEe, which differs from traditional Rally in that it involves more tricks and adds musical freestyle elements into the courses. Canine Musical Freestyle (http://www.worldcaninefreestyle.org/, http://www.musicaldogsport.org/, and http://www.canine-freestyle.org/) is a sport involving complex moves with your dog that resemble “dance” routines and often are paired with music. If you decide to become involved in Rally-FrEe you may eventually find yourself getting the freestyle bug and moving on to that sport as well!
So if you’re looking for a fun and friendly sport to take your dog to the next level and maybe even looking to join a competition or two, consider joining a Rally class to build your bond and communication with your dog!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.