Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience.
The team of dog and handler moves continuously at a brisk, but normal, pace with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during the numbered exercises and between the exercise signs; however, perfect "heel position" is not required. Any faults in traditional obedience that would be evaluated and scored as a one-point deduction or more should be scored the same in Rally, unless otherwise mentioned in the Rally Regulations. After the judge's "Forward" order, the team is on its own to complete the entire sequence of numbered signs correctly.
Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Unless otherwise specified in these Regulations, handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, clap their hands, pat their legs, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler's arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.
Rally provides a link from the Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) program to obedience or agility competition, both for dogs and handlers. In addition, rally promotes fun and enjoyment for dogs at all levels of competition.
Levels of Competition.
The three levels of competition in AKC Rally:
Novice – this is the first level for those just getting started in competition.
o All exercises are performed with the dog on leash.
o There is a requirement of 10-15 stations to complete with no more than five stationary exercises.
o The exercises performed vary from turning 360 degrees to changing paces during the course.
o Exhibitors at this level may clap their hands and pat their legs through the course.
Advanced – this is the second level, which includes more difficult exercises throughout the course.
o All exercises are performed off-leash.
o There is a requirement of 12-17 stations with no more than seven stationary exercises.
o Exercises include a jump as well as calling your dog to the front of you instead of to a heel position.
Excellent – this third and highest level of AKC Rally is the most challenging.
o Exercises are performed off-leash except for the honor exercise.
o There is a requirement of 15-20 stations, with no more than 7 stationary exercises.
o Handlers are only allowed to encourage their dogs verbally. Physical encouragement is not allowed at this level.
o The Excellent-level exercises include backing up three steps, while the dog stays in the heel position and a moving stand, while the handler walks around the dog.