Rally or Rally Obedience

Rally O from ACQ Spring 2005

It’s fun for everyone; your Coton, you and the spectators, no matter what you call it: Rally Obedience, Rally O or just plain Rally. One of the newest and fastest growing sports in the United States, Rally O makes obedience training more fun — that’s the purpose. Neither you nor your Coton need be conditioned athletes like the competitors in agility.

Rally O began as a way to keep people interested and playing with their dogs after obedience training. It’s a fast paced fun style of obedience. Any dog can compete and win — even a dog that is lame or three legged. All that is required is that the dog is having fun and that the exercises do not cause pain. Any handler can compete and win — children, those with disabilities or in wheelchairs. It truly is for everyone.

After intermediate obedience you can go right into Rally O and almost immediately begin competition. Rally O dispenses with the rigid style of traditional obedience. What’s fun is that you can repeat commands, talk to your Coton throughout the entire competition, pet your Coton, offer as much verbal praise as you want, and dispense as many treats as you like without penalty. Although you can talk to your Coton all you want, he or she must complete each exercise in one continuous motion beginning with the first command. There are a variety of performance classes you can enter, both on leash and off leash.

A number of organizations offer competitive Rally Obedience throughout the country, including the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, AKC (now offering fun and training matches and began formal competition January, 2005), and UKC which began offering Rally O competition January, 2005. To find classes and sanctioned competition anywhere in the U.S. go to the APDT web site at

Below are a few of the basic exercises from the APDT web site and the self explanatory signs you will find on a Rally O course. The signs instruct the dog and owner team to go fast or slow. The course can be timed or untimed. The course can be different every time a competition is held.

In Rally O, the team can walk through the course first for practice. Then it’s on to the competition!

HALT – Sit. The handler approaches to within approximately two to four feet of the exercise sign. The handler halts, and the dog sits in heel position. This can be an automatic sit, or the handler may cue the dog to sit. When completed, handler cues dog forward and proceeds to the next exercise station. Failure to sit is scored as non-qualifying.

HALT – Sit – Down – Walk Around. While heeling, the team halts and the dog sits in heel position. The handler cues the dog to lie down, gives a wait or stay cue, then walks forward, around the dog counterclockwise, and back to heel position. The handler then cues the dog to heel from the down position and moves toward the next exercise station. Breaking the down before the handler returns to heel position and cues the dog forward is scored as non-qualifying.

270-Degree Right (Turn). While heeling, the team makes a 270-degree turn that begins to the handler’s right. However, the final direction taken toward the next exercise station is to the left of the team’s original position.

Spiral Right – Dog Outside. Three cones (pylons) are placed in a straight line approximately 5 feet apart. The “Right” direction indicates that the handler turns to his/her right when moving around each of the cones (clockwise). This places the dog on the outside of the turns. The exercise sign is placed next to the first cone facing the direction of the team’s approach. Dog and handler pass the first cone and proceed to and around the third one, then loop the first cone, proceed to and around the second, then loop the first cone one last time. Each of the three spirals circles the first cone.

Straight Figure 8. Four cones (pylons) are placed in a straight line approximately 5 feet apart. The exercise sign is placed near the first cone in the line. Entry into the weaving pattern is between the first and second cone with the first cone on the team’s left. Dog and handler weave through the cones, loop the end cone and weave back to the beginning of the pattern. Exit direction from the pattern is dependent on the placement of the next exercise station.

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