Dog and Handler teams navigate a course with numbered signs indicating different exercises to perform such as Sit-Down-Sit, Straight Figure 8, Send Over Jump, Recall Over Jump. Teams navigate the course at a brisk, continuous performance without direction from the judge. Handlers are encouraged to talk to their dogs during the performance. All dogs, purebred, mixed breeds and dogs with disabilities are encouraged to participate. Rally trials can be hosted by any organization. Trials typically include Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 courses. A team earns a Rally title after successfully completing three course runs with qualifying scores. Titles can be earned at each Level and teams may also earn Championship titles, National Ranking Awards and a special Award of Excellence.According to an instructor at our training facility, Rally was created as a sort of backlash against Obedience competition (my human's interpretation, not the instructor's) ...a more relaxed, more fun approach to evaluating the dog's knowledge of commands and dog/handler teamwork. During the trial, the handler can encourage the dog verbally and even use treats (sparingly), whereas these are forbidden in Obedience competition. My human served as a Steward at a Rally trial hosted by our club, and she thought it was so fun to hear the different ways the owners would praise their dogs throughout the course ("GOO'BOOOOOYEEEEEEEEEE!!!!") She said the dogs looked like they were enjoying themselves almost as much as the owners!
Apparently, Rally has really taken off while Obedience entries have fallen. Now, the AKC has gotten in on the act and is also sanctioning their own Rally trials.
So here's a clip of me at my second Rally class. I am the youngest in the class and it shows...I get distracted pretty easily at nice smells on the floor, at my human cousin who's taking the video, at the other dogs working the course...but I still had fun! My human says I need to work on my "place" (sitting at her left side, right next to her and close to her leg)...I have a tendency to swing out wide to sit. So you'll see her using a treat to try to get me closer in. Hey, she has lots of stuff to learn, too! You'll see her mess up one of her "about turns" (or was that supposed to be a 270 degree turn?). Enjoy!