Hello, Rally O!
Is your fox terrier looking for fun ways to learn useful life skills? Would you like to try your hand or should we say “paws” at competing in a fun, relaxed, and friendly environment? Welcome to the world of Rally Obedience.
Rally-O is a spin off from traditional Obedience training, but with a new twist. It’s fun! Fun for the dog and fun for the handler. In Rally-O, the dog/handler team follow a course of specific exercises graphically and textually depicted on signs placed throughout the course. And, best of all, you can talk to your dog, praise your dog, and in some venues, even treat your dog while competing on course. How fun is that?
Rally is a sport that encourages the human/canine relationship by allowing communication and praise in the ring. This philosophy and varied exercises are what sets Rally-O apart from traditional Obedience training. Rally-O is a great sport for dogs who are easily distracted and stimulated by their environment. Sound familiar? In fact, many dogs that shut down in regular Obedience classes seem to really enjoy Rally-O. In part because Rally is faster paced and because the handler is allowed to consistently interact with the dog.
A Little Bit of History
Rally is a relatively new sport. It was first conceptualized by Bud Kramer in the year 2000 as a way to generate interest in obedience as agility was taking the nation by storm. APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) was an early adapter and started its Rally program in 2001. It wasn’t until 2005, however, that AKC rolled out its own version of Rally-O. Since then, other venues such as UKC (United Kennel Club) and C-wag (Canine Work and Games) have introduced their own adaptations of Rally Obedience.
The Main Contenders
Both AKC and APDT offer three different levels of completion. In these venues, the dog/handler team must begin at the Novice and Level 1 respectively. Dogs perform basic behaviors on leash. These two basic levels require the least amount of behaviors, usually from 10-15 in AKC and 18-20 in APDT competition. To earn the AKC Rally titles, the dog must earn 3 qualifying scores under 2 different judges. APDT requires three qualifying scores of 170 or better under 2 different judges for each title earned. In both venues, the required behaviors, the difficulty, and the number of behaviors increase at each level.
The leash comes off and the fun begins for fox terriers at APDT Level 2 and AKC Rally Advanced levels. By now, the dogs are accustomed to heeling with distractions – we hope. Still, the handler can talk to the dog and encourage him with praise throughout the performance. APDT even allows petting and treating the dog at the completion of each behavior posted on a sign.
Level 3 in APDT and Excellent in AKC are also performed off leash. These levels build upon previous levels and more signs are added, again increasing in difficulty.
AKC (American Kennel Club)Titles
- Rally Novice (RN)
- Rally Advanced (RA)
- Rally Excellent (RE)
- Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE)
APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers)Titles
- Level 1
- Level 2
UKC United Kennel Club)Titles
- United Rally Obedience 1 (URO1)
- United Rally Obedience 2 (URO2)
- United Rally Obedience 3 (URO3)
- United Rally Obedience Champion title. (UROC)
Some examples of behaviors and their corresponding signs are:
- Halt/leave dog/recall over jump
- 270 degree turn, right
- Call front/finish left
- Moving side step
- Serpentine wave (heeling around cones)
You Tube Videos
Want to see some foxies in action? Click on the link below or copy and paste the link into your browser to view some real “live wires.”
- Rally signs (homemade or purchased) Templates and signs can be purchased
- Jumps: Panel, single bar or broad jump, depending upon venue
- Food bowls and toys for distraction proofing
- Treats & Praise
Dogs seem to thrive on the attention and praise that comes with training for Rally. Foxies are no exception. Terriers just want to have fun, and fun they have. When using positive reinforcement training methods, the dogs don’t know the difference between training or playing a game, and neither will you!
So whether you are headed for the competition ring or the neighborhood park with your rally trained foxie, you’ll enjoy a deeper bond with your special canine friend and reap the added benefit of a well trained, attentive terrier. At least until that squirrel or rabbit runs across your path.
United Kennel Club (UKC) Rally