Rally Obedience or Rally-O as it is more commonly known is a sport for all dogs regardless of age, breed, size or disabilities.
Rally-O has its roots in traditional Obedience and the same basic skills are required. However, it is less formal and handlers may praise and encourage their dogs when completing the course.
A dog/handler team must navigate its way around a course which has been set out with numbered signs showing various obedience style or heel-work instructions such as 'sit', 'down', 'straight figure of 8', 'turn right' and so on. A team is timed whilst undertaking a course and judged upon the manner in which the team interacts with each
other, the way in which they undertake the various instructions, and the flow of their performance.
Rally-O competition appeals to pet dog owners as competitors are encouraged to talk to their dogs. They are permitted to cue their dogs e.g. 'sit', 'come', 'wait' and they are allowed to retry a station if they make a mistake. Unlike regular competitive obedience trials, a Rally Obedience team does not wait for the judge’s orders when proceeding around the course. Once the team has started, they continue until the final station is reached and its instruction performed. Agility handlers will be familiar with the concept of following a course with no guidance from the judge.
Whilst communication between the handler and the dog is encouraged, physical contact between the handler and dog or loud, harsh commands will be penalised. A Rally-O course only takes about two minutes to complete which is shorter than traditional Obedience. Rally-O moves faster than traditional Obedience so dogs and handlers who get bored easily will always be on the move and thinking about the next station. There are many new exercises to learn and as Rally-O is lower impact than either Obedience or Agility, dogs can compete for longer and dogs may even come out of retirement.
Although Rally Obedience is designed to be more relaxed than competitive obedience, competition is encouraged and you can move up through the classes beginning with Novice.
Novice Class is performed on lead and consists of 10-15 stations.
Advanced Class is off-lead and consists of 12-17 stations and one jump.
Excellent Class is off-lead and consists of 15-20 stations and two jumps.
After Excellent you can try for the ‘RAE’ which is qualifying 10 times in both Advanced and Excellent in the same trial.