Sports and Fitness: Rev Up for Rally

Discover the sport that tests obedience skills and strengthens the dog-owner bond.

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The best obedience teams demonstrate human-dog fusion: The handler moves smartly and silently around the ring in response to the judge’s commands, and the dog struts at her left side, its eyes focused on her face.

Perhaps you would like to develop a similar but more relaxed kind of training relationship with your dog, teaching it to walk with you and obey simple commands. If so, rally might be the right sport for you.

The basics
Rally is a more relaxed form of obedience in which unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is encouraged, and scoring is not as rigorous as in traditional obedience. The main objective is to produce dogs that will behave in the home and in public places, as well as in the presence of other dogs and people.

Any dog older than 6 months of age, purebred or mixed breed, can compete in rally as long as it’s registered (purebreds) or listed (mixed breeds) with the American Kennel Club. You can compete for ribbons and earn titles, which follow your dog’s name. You might enjoy the challenge of competition and the special bond that develops so much that you decide to compete in other canine sports, such as agility and traditional obedience.

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