Rally-Obedience is considered being the little sister of obedience. But how can one imagine what it is about, and why is it called Rally?
What is Rally-Obedience?
The team of handler and dog masters a course that comprises of various completely different exercises. Most of them are exercises combined with heelwork, but also jumps, figures and distractions through treats and toys can occur. It is called Rally because every exercise is described on a sign and the team has to work through the course almost like on a scavenger hunt.
Who is Rally-Obedience suitable for?
Rally-Obedience indeed is fantastic fun sports. Almost any handler/dog team can attend and there is no need to be member of a club or hold a certificate for companion dogs (BH). What I appreciate most in this sport is the fact that it is also suitable for disabled dogs and humans without any restrictions.
What is the difference between Rally-Obedience and Obedience?
First of all – as mentioned above – a club membership or a BH certificate is not required. But more important is the fact that the handler may help the dog during the complete course. Support by signal, voice, body and encouragement is not only allowed at any time, it is even well appreciated. The handler may do anything besides touching his dog. No points are deducted for supporting the dog. Rally-Obedience is all about making the way through the course JOINTLY as a team. Besides, a dedicated senior-dog class does exist that consists of facilitated exercises for older dogs to enable them to participate in this sport for a very long time. Disabilities of dog or handler are not a problem at all and can be announced before the run and thus this team has equal chances as all other teams.
What are the rules?
Runs are performed in 5 classes: Beginner, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Senior. Teams starting in the classes Beginner and Class 1 can decide for themselves to perform with the dog leashed or off-leash. Moreover, they can decide whether they would like to use treats. If so, the handler will be able to reward the dog after an exercise at particular stations marked with a smiley. These stations are usually located at spots where the team has to stop anyway.
Each handler is allowed to inspect the course for 10 minutes before the run without the dog, to have a look at the signs and to ask somebody if in doubt. Every team starts with 100 points from which subsequently every fault is deducted. Funnily the handler usually makes more mistakes than the dog: turning into the wrong direction, miscalculating steps, etc. If the team has finally scored a result of more than 90 points it is promoted to start one class higher. If it scores more than 70 points, it requires 3 runs with a score over 70 points to be promoted to the next class. But this is not mandatory! If a team feels comfortable within the current class or assumes that the dog might have problems to accomplish the next step, the team can remain in the current class as long as it wishes to do so. If the team has tried to start in a higher class and is not happy with this, it may go back to the class it started in before. Currently 74 different exercises are defined which enables a nearly unlimited number of combination possibilities. In each further class new exercises are added with an increasing level of difficulty.
What is needed?
Of course most important of all you need a dog that must be at least 15 months of age to be allowed to perform in an official run! Apart from that you need a collar with fixed position, a few pylons, some small bowls and covers for the signs. Taking this into account Rally-Obedience is one of the least effortful types of sports considering the required material.
A real advantage for Rally-Obedience is the fact that the course comprises of very many small single exercises that can be combined differently every time. Because of this it never gets boring. Particularly nice is the possibility to practice the single exercises really individually, most of them even in the living room, during a walk or wherever there are a couple of minutes of spare time. This enables quick successes for the team without previously having to go through a big amount of work. Once the exercises are combined one discovers that there still is a lot to know and learn. These are the challenges that make the sport exciting and diverse over a long period of time.
Rally-Obedience is one of the nicest and most feasible types of sports for me at all. The small exercises are staggered from easy to difficult and are not very hard to learn. The handler can and may help the dog as much as he likes without being penalized with point deduction. It only counts how neat the exercise is performed in the end and everybody is allowed to do this in the way it is best for himself and the dog. I like this a lot!
Another aspect I care about a lot is the fact that no one is excluded. My old bitch has performed in dog sports for all her life together with me. She loves the atmosphere at tournaments and loves to be in the center of attention. I want her to relish her evening of life for a long time and in healthy condition. Although she still offers it and pushes to the front, I don’t want to expose her to the strains of classical obedience. But she still is far from being “part of the old guard” and still loves to work and learn new things. Rally-Obedience offers the ideal possibilities for this. The runs are adapted to her and as long as she performs with such eagerness, it is the ideal type of sport for her!
On the other hand it is wonderful that this sport is of such an integrative manner. No matter whether you are not able to run fast, whether you have to lead the dog on the other side or you are sitting in a wheelchair – all this is not a problem at all. Even a dog that is blind or deaf or has other disabilities that do not cause him any pain is welcome.