Rally Obedience (sometimes called 'Rally-O') is a new take on traditional obedience competitions. In both sports, dogs must perform heeling, sit, stay and recall. In traditional obedience competitions, these tasks are performed one at a time in a fairly predictable manner, and interaction between the handler and their dog other than quick succinct cues is discouraged.
Rally encourages human/ canine verbal communication, eye contact and teamwork. Additionally, Rally combines compliance with a course of 10 to 20 stations in which the dog/handler team performs a given task defined at each station. Courses vary between each competition. The team is judged not only for performing the tasks defined at each station but also in the ability they show in communication and teamwork. Judges are looking for loose leashes and happy dogs. At advanced and excellent levels dogs are off leash. Harsh corrections and even a verbal 'no' will add deductions to a score. Teamwork is the goal.
Rally can be done as a competition, or simply a fun way to practice compliance.
The skills required for Rally are teaching your dog to walk with you in a 'heel' position (by your left knee), teaching your dog to sit, down, stay and come, and in advanced levels your dog must do a simple jump.
Additionally, it is important to build your dog’s ability to give attention to you in distracting situations.
What not to do:
- Do not use harsh corrections, including leash corrections to teach your dog to heel.
- Rather, teach your dog to follow your hand as a target in a heel position or teach her the heel position by having her by your left side at first, walking a few steps forward then changing direction and rewarding her when she comes into the heel position at your left side. The best way to begin to teach the heel cue is off leash in your house.
- If you get in the habit of using a leash to direct your dog, it will become a crutch for you and a cue for your dog.
- Start to teach the heel position off leash in your house in order to prevent this from developing.
- A leash is only for safety, not for pulling your dog into position.
- Do not use stern cues. Rather have a conversation with your dog as you are walking along.
- Learn to make walking together a fun time for both of you!
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