The Wonderful World of Dog Sports
Let us get started in Rally!
“Training your dog builds a bond nothing can break.”
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a well-behaved happy dog? Then you should highly consider doing one of the many dog sports with your beloved family pet.
One of the easiest dog sports to get started in is Rally. More teams than ever before are participating in this sport each year. Your team can just do it to have fun and build confidence or you can show off your skills in a Rally event and earn titles.
It is enjoyable and exciting as well as it is made for beginners. Rally builds skills and good behaviors which in turn then shows at home and in public, it is a win-win for you and your dog.
What is Rally?
Rally is a sport in which you and your dog work through a course on leash, side-by-side with signs designed by a Judge or a class instructor (between 10-20, depending on what level your team is at). These signs give your dog an exercise to accomplish, like for example: Sit or Lie Down. Rally is also a precursor to the more advanced sports like Obedience and Agility.
The fun part about Rally is you get to speak to your dog and encourage him/her through-out the course and not be penalized. You can clap your hands, tap your leg, use hand signals and praise. All of it to keep you and your dog motivated and engaged.
Rally has 5 levels to achieve: Novice, Intermediate, Advance, Excellent and Masters. Each one builds on skills from the last level, turning your dog into a skilled well-mannered dog. So for example, in Novice you might have learned to have your dog down but in the Intermediate level you would have your dog down and wait while you walked around them. It also teaches you how to better communicate with your dog and building that bond that nothing can break.
There is of course scoring in Rally when you compete for titles. You start off with 100 points and then points start getting deducted if your dog for example does not do the exercise or releases from the exercise before being told to. You must keep a score of 70 or higher to qualify towards earning your title. Once you qualify a certain number of times you move on to the next level.
How to Get Started
So, if you have never seen Rally, I would recommend that you go and see it in person at an AKC or UKC event or club that has classes so you can see, one how much fun it is but two you can talk to some of the experienced owners or instructors who have competed and ask questions. Another thing is, look up videos online. AKC’s & UKC’s website also has the rules, signs, and other important information.
Next, go and observe a class; most clubs or training facilities welcome prospective students before having you commit to signing up. Then sign up for a class!
There is a bit of commitment on your part. It’s not just all up to your dog. You are a team! You will need to take all your classes and train at home. With Rally it is remarkably simple to practice at home and at first you will train with your dog in short five- to ten- minute sessions with rewards (usually food treats) twice a day. Then you add a little play time. You will see a huge difference in your dog in no time at all. Your family and friends will be amazed at what a fantastic trainer you have become and will see you have a well-behaved dog.
Then who knows, you might get the bug like me and start venturing out to the other dog sports and meet like-minded people, learn from them, and cheer on other teams, and build a wealth of camaraderie.