An excellent introduction to the world of companion dog sports, rally welcomes all dogs—purebred or mixed, dogs that are show dogs, working dogs or champion couch potatoes, able-bodied or physically challenged. The newer, and some would say more exhilarating cousin of obedience, rally aims to promote a positive, fun relationship between dogs and owners, while showcasing a dog’s ability to follow commands.
The most important aspect of competition is attitude. While precision is of great importance in obedience competition, rally dogs and their owners need to make it clear to the judge that they are having a blast! The sport appeals to those who seek a fun, positive atmosphere and enjoy developing a working partnership with their dog; think of it as a motivational game. The challenge is for the owner to not only remain upbeat themselves, but also be able to know and read their dog well enough to encourage an outwardly happy, exuberant attitude throughout the team’s performance.
Rally can essentially be seen as a high energy, continuous performance requiring constant communication between dog and owner. Because each rally course is designed differently, it is a wonderfully stimulating exercise for the owner to find new and innovative ways to provide direction to their dog. The owner may use voice commands, hand signals, and body movements to communicate; praise and petting are also encouraged. Remembering that this is fast-paced sport, each team is timed and may not go over the four-minute limit to complete the course. The challenges of developing the level of understanding and teamwork required makes rally is an effective avenue for those interested in competing in other dog sports to fine-tune their training skills.
Charles “Bud” L. Kramer, who developed some of the first agility programs in the USA, is also credited with developing rally. Combining warm-up exercises with freestyle ideas, Kramer created a sport which some have thought of as the combination of classic obedience and agility. It didn’t take long for the concept to catch on, spreading northwards to Canada and eventually to be enjoyed by people and dogs the world over.
A Closer Look at Rally
The Canadian Kennel Club is pleased to offer this exciting sport to participants across Canada. There are three main levels in CKC rally competition: Rally Novice as the name suggests, exists for those of us who are totally green; Rally Advanced could be considered “middle school,” as the dog and owner graduate to this level after earning the Novice title; finally, Rally Excellent is for the well-seasoned competitor, to be entered upon completion of the Advanced title. For the serious rally enthusiast, the next challenge is the Rally Advanced Excellent. To earn the RAE title, a dog must qualify 10 times in both Rally Advanced and Rally Excellent at the same trial. The possibilities are unlimited, as the number of times the dog meets these requirements is added after the title—the current record is RAE42! New for 2018 is the addition of the Rally Master class. These classes bring back some of the formality of traditional obedience. The race is on, as many of Canada’s top dogs are competing in rings across the country right now, hoping to be the first to earn the new Rally Master Excellent and Rally Grand Champion titles.
Seasoned, successful competitors invite anyone interested in competitive dog sports to get involved with rally, as it imprints the basics required for obedience and allows people to become familiar with the trial atmosphere. Getting and studying a CKC rally rule book
is highly recommended, as many competitors find a great deal of confidence in knowing how trials are judged. When attending rally events, stick around and watch the higher-level competitors as well, because there is always something to fun to learn from doing so! Furthermore, try to find a Rally mentor who can teach you some tricks to maximize the potential of both yourself and your canine companion.
Each year, CKC is thrilled to present our Top Rally Dogs, made up of the best dog-and-trainer teams from across the country, after
successfully competing in CKC rally events throughout the year. How does it work? The Rally Top Dogs
system awards points based on a dog’s score each time it qualifies in Advanced or Excellent. The dog with the most points at the end of the year takes the title of CKC Top Rally Dog. Top Dogs are ranked within the Top 5 in each breed, the Top 10 in each group and the Top 10 all breeds.
Stay tuned for our CKC Top Rally Dogs coming Monday, February 26
, and special thanks to our CKC Top Dogs presenting sponsor, Purina®
. Have FUN!