Rally is a fun dog sport that is made up of obedience exercises and follows a numbered course. Different from formal competitive obedience, the exercises change from course to course. On the Rally course, there is a numbered sequence consisting of signs. The signs say which exercise you and your dog are supposed to perform. Sometimes it can be as easy as having your dog sit, while other signs can be moving exercises, such as left and right turns. Signs can also be placed by what we call an obstacle, which could be a series of cones that you need to heel around, or even a jump!
Any dog is able to compete in rally. There are two main types of rally competitions: World Cynosport Rally and American Kennel Club (AKC). World Cynosport Rally (WCR) allows dogs with disabilities as well as mixed breeds. WCR also offers exercise modifications for dogs with disabilities. For example, a blind dog would be allowed to walk over a jump bar on the ground, instead of jumping a raised bar. These and other modifications would also be offered to older dogs or dogs with physical limitations. WCR Rally offers three levels of competition, as well as a puppy class and a veteran dog class. There are multiple titling opportunities in WCR, so you are able to stay in any level you would like and still compete for titles. The number of titles you can earn in WCR Rally are really limitless. Titles can be earned multiple times and are just noted as X2, or even up to X10!
American Kennel Club (AKC) Rally offers three levels of competition. There are four possible titles to earn in AKC. You are not able to stay in a level past earning your title, you must move up to the next one. AKC Rally does not offer modifications or allow disabled (three-legged, deaf or blind) dogs to compete. Dogs must jump the height that is appropriate for their size, age and physical limitations are not considered when deciding the necessary jump height.
Both venues of competition offer opportunities to bond with your dog while earning titles along the way. Ribbons are always given out to teams with qualifying scores, placements and new titles. Teams also receive a title certificate so you have lots to show for the fun you are having with your dog!
Rally trials are typically laid back and promote a friendly, yet competitive environment. Although it is a competition, teams still cheer on other teams and wish them success, too. AKC Rally trials are often held combined with AKC Obedience trials or even Conformation events, so they can sometimes be a busier, more chaotic environment. WCR events are typically held by themselves in smaller training schools. Smaller trials make it very easy and worry-free for new competitors.
No matter what your goals are with your dog, Rally is for you. If you are looking for precision and perfect scores, you can get that in Rally. If you are looking to have fun with your dog and work your dog to the best of their ability, you can do that too! Some people participate in Rally just to help their dog build confidence, and don’t care so much about the score or ribbons. Rally is a great sport for anyone, and dogs really do enjoy it!
Want to get started in rally with your dog? Register for our Intro to Rally class starting Monday, March 31. If you are interested in learning more by watching a competition or coming out to talk to the competitors, Morris K9 Campus will be hosting a WCR Rally Trial Event on Sunday May 11, 2014. Feel free to come by and check out this exciting sport, as well as get a feel for the dog-friendly environment!