Rally obedience is a dog sport combining exercises from obedience, agility and freestyle and is suitable for all dogs of all ages and breeds. The sport is originally from USA and became approved as an official competition by NKK (Norwegian kennel club) in 2013.
How does a rally obedience course look like?
In rally obedience handler and dog will walk a course containing 15-22 signs set in a specific order. Each sign contains an exercise for handler and dog and must be completed when they arrive at the sign. The judge decides which signs is to be used and in which order they are set, in other words the judge is the course designer (same as in agility). Before the competition starts, all contestants will have 10 minutes to walk the course.
How is the handler and dog judged?
When you start the course you have a total of 200 points and if you make a mistake points will be deducted. How many points depend on what kind of mistake was made. The judge will be on the course together with the handler and the dog, writing down mistakes. The goal is to have the least mistakes and the highest score. If two contestants have the same score, the time spent on the course will be the deciding factor.
On the picture below you can see a Norwegian critic form. This is what the judge writes on while handler and dog walks the course. It show mistakes, time and placement/prize. At the bottom is an overview of possible mistakes the judge can write down. On sign number 5, there is an S which is for sniffing and takes 1 point from the total. The video below the picture is the trial from that critic from.
How many levels in rally obedience?
In rally obedience every contestant belongs to a level depending on the difficulty. The levels are from 1-3 and elite (the highest grade). Some organizers also have a “starters” level which is easier than level 1. To advance from each level it requires a minimum score, either one or several times. All the dogs compete in different levels, depending on skill only regardless of breed and height of the dog. When jumps are used in the course they will be adjusted to each dogs height.
The levels differ from the difficulty of the signs. As you advance through levels new signs are added, but there will always be signs from the previous levels. In all levels but level 1 the dog cannot wear any collar, harness or leash.
How do I start training rally obedience?
I would recommend contacting your local dog club to see if they have classes for rally obedience. If you wish to learn on your own I would recommend reading the rules for rally obedience (rules for Norway in Norwegian can be found here) and learning how to properly execute the different signs.
It is also a good idea to watch videos of other people training or competing in rally obedience. I have posted several videos of me and my dogs competing in rally obedience from all levels. You will find all the videos my on YouTube channel.