What’s Your Rally Cry?

A couple of you mentioned in yesterday’s comments that you didn’t know what Rally was.  Since I was a bit unsure about what to write today, I’d thought I’d give an explanation.

This is Rally the way I understand it.  Of course the AKC has many more details on their website.

Almost a year and a half ago, I was a steward at a local high school, you can read about that here.

So what is Rally?

Basically Rally is dog obedience set up on a course with written instructions at each station.

IMG_2357 Simple enough.

The course is set-up by the Ring Judge. You and your dog are a team.  Each team is timed and enters the ring with a perfect score of 100.  The judge will deduct points if you make a mistake.  The timed portion of the event is in case of a tie.  In that case they go to the time and the team that completed the ring the quickest wins.

The rally rings I worked were probably about twenty to thirty feet squared, and the course is set up using left, right and about turns so you are almost walking a path.  The judge determines what commands are requested at what stations.  In the rings I’ve stewarded the commands have been laminated and they are positioned in the stand so as to be easily read.

Some of the commands are very hard.

This sign means do an about turn (turn around and head back the way you came) and then turn right.

Once the judge has set up the course, instructions are given and then you have the opportunity to walk the course without your dog.

Judge Instruction Receiving the Judge’s instructions.
Rally Walk Thru Walking the course.

There are four levels of Rally.

Novice, Advanced, Excellent and Advanced Excellent.  As you can imagine the commands increase in difficulty with each level.  In the upper levels, some of the courses are completed off-leash. In this case the Steward will take your leash and hand it back when you exit the ring.

In those levels, part of the course requirement is for a dog to ‘honor’ another dog.  This simply means your dog will lie in a certain spot and not move while a competitor completes the course.  The Steward at the exit is in charge of the stop watch and keeping an eye on the honor dog to insure the honor is done correctly.

There are two no-no’s that I know of in the ring.

1) Using food, while you can hold your hand a certain way against your body, or point with your fingers, you are not allowed to trick your dog into thinking you have food.  The first Rally I stewarded, a woman came into the ring and her dog sat and she gave the dog a bit of food and the Judge disqualified her on the spot.  She was still allowed to complete the course, but her score did not count.

2) Tags on your dog’s collar. The judge will tell you take it off or you get a DNQ (did not qualify,)

They award blue, white, yellow and red ribbons to the top four teams.


How do I qualify?

In order to qualify and earn a ‘leg’ you need a passing score of 70.  Once you’ve achieved three legs (under at least two different judges) you’ve earned a title!

In the rings I’ve worked, once the judge awards the ribbons they will ask, Who got their first leg?  Who got their second leg?  Who titled?

Akita This team was amazing to watch.

People who work these kinds of dog shows will tell you, Rally is the hardest ring to work and it needs to be run correctly.  In the advanced levels there are sometimes jumps incorporated into the course. When a team signs in they are asked what height their jump needs to be.  It is up to the Stewards to make sure the jump heights are correct for each dog.  A Corgi’s jump height will be different from a Golden Retriever’s.

What’s a Steward?

It is the Steward’s job to make sure all competitors are where they are supposed to be and that the rings run smoothly.


It can sometimes be a bit stressful (like when a competitor is showing in another ring at the same time) but it is a lot of fun.  My friend Ann and I run a tight Rally ring.  After our first Rally Steward we were told by the Judge that we were the best Stewards she’d ever had.

Have you ever attended a competition show?  Did I clear things up for you or just confuse you?

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    • Jodi Stone says

      I think it is. Of course there are other sports to pursue but I don’t want anything too stressful and the thing I like about this is even the biggest couch potato in the world could do it! LOL

  1. Sue @ The Golden Life says

    Sounds like a great “sport” for Callie and Shadow, but they’re both a bit leash reactive. Ducky still needs obedience work — its not that she doesn’t know commands. She’s actually a very smart little girl, but her attention span is still low. (Almost a year old but with the attention span of a 4- or 5-month-old puppy.)

  2. says

    I introduced Rally into our area when it was first becoming an AKC event. It’s definitely a challenge for those of us who are uncoordinated :>). Especially those jug handle turns! One way it is different from obedience is that you can talk to your dog through out the course so it’s less rigid and more fun for the dog.

    I haven’t stayed active in my dog sports and really need to get back into those I really enjoyed like Rally.

    • Jodi Stone says

      Wow good for you Dawn! I don’t think I know what a jug handle turn is, the phrase alone terrifies me.

      Yes, I forgot to mention the talking, I will cover that in FUF.

  3. says

    I’ve never attended a rally show. I don’t know if there aren’t a whole lot of dog events in my area, or if I just don’t know where to hear about them. Rally does sound fun an interesting, though!

    • Jodi Stone says

      I had never known of a dog show in my area either until I was asked to Steward. If you are interested check the AKC website and see if they list anything.


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