KC Rally is a truly inclusive sport that handlers can enjoy with their family pet or as an extra activity alongside other canine activities, however all dogs have to be registered with the Kennel Club to be able to compete in Rally competitions and must be a minimum of six months of age to take part in Levels 1 or 2 Classes and 12 months of age for Level 3 upwards.
Rally is a canine sport derived from the heelwork elements of Obedience. It does however differ from Obedience as competitors and dogs attempt a pre-set course (designed by the judge on the day) of up to 15 signs (called stations) along the course.
The selection of exercises and design of the course is at the judge’s discretion. Each individual round is performed at a ‘brisk pace’ and takes around four minutes. There is however no direction from the judge or steward as in Obedience; the signs are all the guidance competitors receive. Handlers have 30 minutes to walk through the course (without dogs) before the competition starts. At Levels 1 and 2, the lowest levels, dogs compete on lead and a loose lead is emphasized. The handler may give verbal commands and encouragement throughout as necessary.
More advanced levels require dogs to compete off lead. Physical or harsh verbal correction is strictly penalised. There are no sit or down stays, once the competitor has completed the round he or she has finished.
Competitors start each round with a perfect score of 200 and deductions are made by the judge for inaccuracies and mistakes in their performance. Progress to the next Level will be based on reaching a qualifying standard (3 qualifying scores of 170 or better under three different judges). Places are awarded at competitions but progression does not rely on winning first place.
Starting out in Rally
There are six levels of competitive Rally. New handlers will start at Level 1 and as you become more experienced you can qualify for the next level up and then advance through the levels to Level 6.
The exercises range from heelwork, to a recall, control exercises such as a Halt – Sit and Halt – Sit – Walk Around. Level 1 is performed on-lead and consists of 10 – 15 exercise signs. As you progress through the levels the exercises obviously become more difficult until you reach Level 6 which is performed off-lead and consists of 15 – 17 exercise signs.
Rally signs are available to download from http://www.rallynews.co.uk/resources.html. You can also download a grid for planning your own courses for practice! Alternatively you can purchase laminated signs for individual or all the levels from the KC online shop.
Your first step to competitive Rally should be to join a training club – a map of areas which have such clubs is available via http://www.rallynews.co.uk/map.html, There are numerous Rally competitions held annually by Kennel Club Societies and these can be found at http://www.rallynews.co.uk/trials.html. Whatever competition you choose, your dog will be happier for being trained.
For further information on Rally either go to the Rally Website http://www.rallynews.co.uk, Rally Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/rallyonews/ or the Kennel Club Rally page https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/activities/rally/.