My Favorite Dog Obedience Sport
I have recently mentioned my resurgence into the dog obedience and trialing world.
The first time I trialed and showed, I was egged on by my client who challenged me and my dog to an “obedience dare” to see who could title their dog first. I REALLY, REALLY didn’t want to, but I had help to get her ready for her competitions and she wanted company IN and around the show ring.
I never wanted to trial my dog or get titles, I never cared and was terrified of competition and getting up in front of people. But the irony of the situation is that the trainer she left me for fashioned herself as a competition training aficionado.
I happily admit I took her up on her dare and not only did I title first, I beat her former trainer ;) But, for me its not about the competition it is about spending time not only training with my dog but also the short time spent in the ring together!
I intend to get as many titles on my little girl “Fury” as I can! It is my challenge to myself!
And, my favorite obedience sport, you ask?
I am proud to admit she got #1 blue ribbon her first time out of the gate with a score of 99 pts! I let the leash get tight once! Above is our first place run!
For those of you who aren’t familiar, let me educate you!
Rally Obedience was created by Charles Kramer.
Unlike regular obedience where you must wait for the judge to call out instructions you proceed around a course of designated stations with the dog in heel position. The course consists of 10-20 signs (depending on the level of advancement) and the signs instruct the team as to what directive to complete.
And, distinct from other obedience sports are allowed and even encouraged to praise and talk to their dogs throughout the course!
THAT is my #1 reason for loving Rally! Most obedience sports are very cold and absent in the relationship between the dog and the owner/handler. I personally like to at least be able to praise my dog when he/she does something phenomenal and to keep him/her motivated and happy.
I understand that you should not be able to use training collars, issue corrections, or give treats but I emphatically admit that dogs deserve praise for a job well done! And, in Rally you can praise, talk to and even clap for your dog when he does something right!
Since I don’t have a judge barking directions at me, I can also relax and stumble about the course on my own without having to worry about listening to someone else. This allows me to block out everything else that is going on around me.
And, IT’S FUN!
Even if you don’t compete…Rally obedience is just fun! And the obedience behind it is functional! I love the fact that by working on the simple commands on the signs like: Stop (dog should sit) Take one step halt (dog sits) Two steps halt (dog sits) Three steps halt (dog sits) and Call Dog Front Finish Left halt (dog should come and sit in front then go to heel position and sit on the left side).
And, it’s FAST you are usually in the ring for less than 2-3 minutes!
This is a great sport to get started in with your dog! It is my favorite way to start!
Look it up online. Many organizations offer Rally Obedience AKC, APDT, UKC and several others! You don’t even have to have a pure breed to get out there and have some fun! You can find more information here.
If you are “on the fence” about competing go to a show and watch, it is so much fun!
To those of you who may end up being “die-hard” obedience competitors; be careful about getting use to lots of praise and using your hands and hand signals. Even if though these are allowed in Rally you don’t want to get into too many bad habits that will be hard to drop when you eventually work your way up or onto another obedience sport! Do as little and as quiet as possible!
I truly believe that this will strengthen the bond between you and your dog, even if you don’t want to compete, check out the signs and train like you are a competitor!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.