In Rally-O the dog and handler team navigate a course of 10 or more stations. Each station has a numbered sign which directs the team to perform an exercise such as turn, recall, sit down or Send Over Jump, and includes serpentines, weave, spirals, changes of pace etc. The number and difficulty of the exercises depends on the level being worked at.
Handlers get the opportunity to walk the course to familiarise themselves with the layout and exercises required. In competition, after the Judge gives them the start cue they must negotiate the course without direction from the judge or stewards. Teams are timed over the course and in the event of tied scores, the fastest time wins. This helps to encourage a brisk, happy pace.
Communication between handler and dog is encouraged. Whilst perfect heel position is not required, there should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler. Handlers are encouraged to talk to their dogs during the exercises, however loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals are penalised.
In addition to being a sport in its own right, Rally-O serves as a useful foundation for other dog sports. Rally-O promotes fun and enjoyment in the training of dogs for handlers of all levels of experience. It provides interest and the opportunity for the acquisition of a variety of skills for the young dog not yet ready to enter other competitions, and also provides something for the older dog that may no longer be able to pursue more active sports such as agility.
Rally-O helps to produce dogs that enjoy behaving well, and that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs.
This class is suitable for dogs that have completed two terms of general obedience training.