Rally with your Border Collie

Obedience With An Agility Twist

Charles (Bud) Kramer, who reportedly introduced agility to the US was also an Obedience devotee and showed in Conformation.  In 2000, concerned at the apparent waning of interest in traditional Obedience, he conceived the idea of rally style Obedience (named after rally car races) in the hope that it would encourage interest in Obedience. Thus Rally combines aspects of rally car racing, Agility courses and Obedience in a fun new sport. In Australia, ANKC Rally competitions arrive in 2012.

The aim is to evaluate the way the handler and dog are able to perform various exercises as a team with the handler aiding the dog in any way possible (within the rules) - that means judging teamwork and the ability of the handler to keep the dog's attention and motivate it rather than the dog's ability to perform exercises with precision on its own. Verbal praise, noise and patting are encouraged.

It is a great introduction to the sport of Obedience, an opportunity for veteran dogs to have fun, helps shy dogs, and teaches course reading skills: another sport for you and your dog! The rules and description of signs are available on the ANKC website - in colour!


Is my dog able to compete?

To be eligible to compete, a dog must:

  • be individually registered on the Main, Limited or Associate Register with the ANKC
  • be over the age of 12 months
  • bitches in oestrum are not eligible to compete


How does a Rally competition run?

As in Obedience and Agility, the judge is the person responsible for setting the course, and for then evaluating the performances of dog and handler teams as they negotiate the course. Handlers are able to walk the course before the start of the competition, and must complete all the numbered stations in order. All teams begin with a maximum 100 points at the start of their run, and points are deducted for incorrectly performed stations, mistakes or poor work. Rally performances are timed, but these are only used to separate teams in the event of tied scores. At the end of the competition, the scores are tallied and placings awarded for each level of competition.

For the ANKC Rally rules, click here!

For a summary of the Rally signs, click here!


What are the different classes and levels of competition?

Rally runs three different levels of competition, and dogs can gain titles in each of these levels. The courses increase in difficulty as dog and handler progress through the classes.

  • Novice is the entrance level class. It is performed on lead and dog and handler must negotiate a course of between 10 and 15 stations.
  • Advanced is the second level in Rally and is run off-lead. This class consists of 12 to 17 stations, and includes one jump station.
  • Excellent is the highest level of Rally competition and is also run off-lead. Dog and Handler must complete a course of 15 to 20 stations, which includes two jump stations.

In all levels of competition, handlers and encouraged to praise their dog whilst completing the course. This may be verbally or by patting. No treats or motivators such as toys are permitted whilst on the course. Passes at each level of competition count towards titles in each class.


What kind of exercises must my dog be able to complete?

Rally stations require dog and handler to perform a specific exercise, or sequence of exercises. These are based off common Obedience commands. They include;

  • Basic halt, sit and drop commands, individually and in sequence
  • Heeling at varying paces and pace changes - slow, fast and normal
  • Four different types of turns - 90, 180, 270 and 360 degrees in right and left hand directions
  • 'Come' recall, with four types of finishes
  • Sidestep, back-up and pivot commands
  • Spirals and weaving
  • Figure 8 patterns


How do I get started?

Even though Rally is relatively new to Australia, it is already proving to be very popular. Local Obedience & Training clubs frequently offer classes for every level of training, from puppy school introductory classes to trialling level. Training and handling your dog is an exceptional and enjoyable experience. Rally is it's own sport with many differences to traditional Obedience, however any beginner level training will be helpful to get you started. While training classes offer the best hands-on way to practice for the ring, watching exhibitors at ANKC sanctioned trials will gain you expertise in the Rally ring.

The Border Collie Club of NSW conducted their inaugral Rally in 2012.

Visit the Dogs NSW website or contact the office to get in contact with your local club to see if they are running Rally training!


Tips for the First-Time Trialler

Make sure your dog is appropriately registered with the ANKC

  • Be sure your dog is current on all vaccinations
  • Learn from an experienced trainer in order to compete competently and safely
  • Join a local training club
  • Become familiar with the ANKC regulations for Rally trials – rules are available on the ANKC website

Get a copy of the Rally station signs and learn them!

  • Attend some Rally trials and become familiar with the procedure
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions of the experienced triallers
  • Attend training with your dog and practice!

Article supplied by Penny Dalzell and published with our thanks.