AKC Introduces New Sport For Pets And Show Dogs

By: Norma Bennett Woolf  Date: 01/8/2012 Category: | Canine Issues |

Combining elements of dog obedience and agility and sports car rallies, the newest dog sport from the American Kennel Club is a fun introduction to the world of competitive dog events. More relaxed than obedience competition and more structured than agility, “Rally-O” uses novice and open obedience exercises; agility course walk-throughs and judge’s meetings, a variety of course set-ups, independent progress from start to finish, and vocal commands and encouragement to the dog, and the principles of sports car rallies in which drivers follow directions at designated stations.

AKC rally has 45 potential exercises, each marked by a sign. Level I classes are done with the dog on leash and include 12-15 exercises. Level II classes are done off-leash and involve 12-18 exercises, including at least one jump.
The judge says nothing during the performance, which lasts from the time the dog and handler cross the starting line until they cross the finish line. Scoring is based on how well the dog executes each command and remains in heel position.

Rally exercises include left and right turns, U-turns, circles, about turns, figure eights, finishes, recalls, and a stand for exam. Exercises can be repeated in slightly different form. For example, the dog may be required to return to heel position by going around the handler or by flipping into place from a sit-in-front.

A Few Exercises:

Halt, sit, and forward: While heeling, the handler halts and the dog comes to sit in heel position. The team then moves forward to the next sign with the dog remaining in heel position.

270-degree right turn: While heeling, the team makes a 270-degree turn (three-quarters of a circle) that starts to the handler’s right and finishes with the team headed to the left of the original direction. Another version of this exercise has the team starting the circle to the left and finishing by heading right of the original direction.

Call dog front, forward right: While heeling, the handler stops forward motion and calls the dog to sit in front. The handler can take several steps backwards to aid the dog in sitting straight in front. The handler then continues forward so the dog has to pivot to get back into heel position.

Slow, fast, and normal paces: three separate exercises as performed in novice obedience classes.

Stand for exam: a two-part exercise that requires the dog to stand-stay by one sign while the handler proceeds to a second sign. The handler then returns to the dog and the team heels forward.

Send over jumps: With the dog at the side, the handler runs along a line six feet to the right of the jump and sends the dog over the jump. When the dog completes the jump, the handler calls it back to heel position and the team continues to the next exercise.

Rally is a non-regular class at AKC obedience trials, so no titles are awarded for qualifying scores. As with other obedience classes, teams begin with 200 points, and judges deduct points for errors by the dog or the handler. Ribbons are awarded for the first four places in each class.

(Editor’s note: This article was written before the formal AKC Rally program was adopted. For newer information please go to the AKC website and for the latest Rally regulations, go here:  http://www.akc.org/pdfs/rulebooks/RO2999.pdf Be aware that there are now 3 different levels (Novice, Advanced, and Excellent).  There are no exercises among the 48 where you leave your dog and walk some distance away from it, but there are several where you walk AROUND the dog.)

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