I will be starting rally with my 3 yr old male choc. lab soon, he is in an advanced obedience class that also practices for trials. Anyways, I have been training him to compete in obedience titles for 3 years, I thought it would be best to start him in rally first to get him warmed up to the ring, and have some experience under his belt.
I've also started clicker training him, and he's doing an awesome job, when he doesn't have treats (is why I'm using the clicker, so he doesn't get one after EVERY excercise) he doesn't respond as well, I'm hoping the clicker training will help on holding off on the treats until after my training session.
Could anyone please prep me for the rally ring? I know it's much more relaxed, and I can talk to my dog, but is there something I should know before I step in? He's went through an advanced course once and did fine, but I'm planning to start competing next month, last minute tips please!
My advice, if you are planning to go into competitive obedience at some point, treat rally just like an obedience ring. Do not use the talking, hand clapping, etc unless you really need it and wean off of it quickly. People forget that it really is just a tool, it is not a requirement for Rally. I've seen too many dogs that become so dependent on that constant verbal feedback that they can't function in the silent obedience ring. It's no different than having a dog that will only work for treats.
When you are ready to compete, you need to decide what your goals are. Do you want perfect scores or do you just want to qualify? You will train and compete differently for each. Is Rally a stepping stone to obedience (just looking for ring experience) or is Rally where you want to devote your training? Again you will train and compete differently.
There is a wonderful Yahoo Rally group frequented by judges, trainers, and competitors so there are lots of experienced people to answer questions. They have an extensive file section which includes courses, sign comparisons, judges worksheets, etc.
Thanks so much for the response! You are very correct, thanks for pointing all that out. I will/am be using the same training method- All hand signals (which is what he knows) and maybe some re-enforced verbal commands when nessesary so it's easier on me and my dog making the transition.
I plan to do my best at the trials, and what I mean by that is to hopefully achieve a perfect score, I won't setle for 'ok' , oh, he also does have his CGC title, which was a breeze, so hopefully that helped.
I do plan to work hard on his rally as well, not just to 'get by' or for practice in the ring, but I am taking it seriously and would love to train my dog, and eventually earn the rally titles (RN, RA, etc ) thanks for making me think and 'look before I leap' at the options I have open to me and my dog.
I will definetly check out that forum, thanks for the advice.
I have also been working with Emilu in advanced obedience classes for about a year. She will be 4 in June. My instructor is very particular - which is good - and didin't think that most of us were ready to compete in obedience, but I was getting antsy to do SOMETHING, so I entered us in Rally trials last fall. We got our title in 3 shows, with scores of 83 (mostly my fault), a 100, and a 99. A fourth show scored 87. I highly recommend reading and studying the book "Rally Obdience" by Charles Kramer. He is the guy who "invented" rally, but had a small parting of ways with AKC, so some things are different, but he explains the differences in his book. This is the best, most comprehensive, but easy to use book that I have seen on rally. I would also download all of the rally signs on the AKC site and buy some orange cones at Walmart in the sports section. You need to be able to practice jumps too, for advanced and excellent. There is also a good forum on Yahoo groups that is all Rally and covers alot of issues (if you can wade through the yahoo board style) I discovered that Emilu LOVES the showring, and actually payed more attention to me there than she does anywhere. She is also VERY treat oriented and I was worried about that. I gave her some good cheese treats before entering the ring, and she kept looking at me, thinking that I might have some more cheese coming her way. Of course you have to remember to give your last one BEFORE entering the ring! I know that it would be best to treat rally as if it were obedience and not talk to your dog that much, but I talked a fair amount to her. Now we are training for advanced, which is all off-leash - so that is exciting. She is doing good enough for rally, but probably not for regular obedience. I figure that rally is SUPPOSED to be easier than regular obedience, and even if we only ever do Rally , we're going to do as good as we can in Rally. The first show, I just wanted to qualify. Ever after that, I want to do really well! I forgot that I do have a competitive streak - if only with myself. But the main point is to have fun with your dog. And remember "LOOSE LEASH" - for an advanced obedience trained dog this shouldn't be much of a problem. And remember that you can repeat a station if you screwed on up. I would do some reading on rally so you feel more comfortable with how it goes. You guys should do fine
Thank you! I just joined (& posted) on the rally forum, thanks! I just got another reply saying also to not be afraid to talk to my dog (which is perfectly acceptable, so why not?!), and to not hold my leash tight. Those two things I will be sure to remember, and those two things will probably be the two things I need the most right now! They are both things that I can do to not only score better, but to help my dog and me to be calmer in the ring, thanks so much for pointing that out.
My goal is to atleast quailify (what's the qualitfying score?) my first time out. I will be sure to let everyone know how we do.
I looked at the sgns today, most I can understand, a few I have a hard time, but I'm sure theyll be easy once I learn them better. how many signs are there in a trial? Do they just pick and choose? I heard I can walk the course without my dog, that will make me a little more sure of myself and my dog.
My biggest goal when doing rally is to have fun, so I hope I will, and I know I will try my hardest now that I have more reassuring help, thanks!
Yes - you have 10 minutes to walk the ring (without your dog) prior to your class. I have seen them do both Novice A and B together, and sometimes separately. The judge is there to answer general questions about the set-up, but not to tell you how to do the station. You also should get a copy of the set-up when you check in (although in most of my shows they didn't have them ready when I signed in - I had to pick them up later). You then have time to go away from the ring and practice the stations with your dog. Besides making copies of the stations from the AKC site, also order the booklet "Rally Signs" from the AKC. It shows the descriptions and symbols for Rally Signs, and which ones are used in Novice, Adanced and Excellent Classes. There are rules for the number of stations in Novice, Advanced and Excellent.I would also suggest getting the booklet from AKC (are you sensing a theme here?) on Obedience REgulations and Rally Regulations. This booklet also has judges guidelines and steward duties in the shows. These booklets are not expensive and are very helpful. There are also rules on where to perform the sign. If you are doing a direction change, you do it in front of the sign. If you are going to continue in a straight line, you keep the sign to your left - unless it is a serpentine or weave where you MIGHT start on the right of the sign, depending on what it says. I would really suggest going to a show that has Rally and watching it. That would really help you see how things go before you entered for yourself.
I was training my male for 3+ years on and off too. I took him into the ring for his first Novice competition and he messed up the down stay so we DQ'd. He wasn't perfect on the other stuff, but he would have passed. I ended up putting him in rally novice, and we have 2 legs under our belt already. We got a 96 and a 99. No placement ribbons as it was TOUGHT competetion and there were about 8 100's. Hudler is super laidback, so as long as we Q, that's all that's important.
Definately make sure you do enough training without ANY commands. That's our downfall right now with focusing on rally. Hudler will do ANYTHING I tell him, so rally is great. But he quickly forgets the things he should do automatically, which are important in obedience. Like always sitting correctly when you stop....
Have fun with it though.
In my opinion the best thing you can do is get started - its so easy to wait too long because you want your pup to be "perfect" and that almost never happens. When everything is aligned correctly you might get the run that is just wonderful - dog and handler in perfect sync and when it happens you will know it - but if you wait too long you might miss the chance. Rally is a great place to start and I found for me if helped take away some ring nerves. I don't have much experience with "formal" obedience. I stopped showing my older pup in Obedience at the CDX level because we never perfected the long sit. Rally came along and it was great for us - a chance to go back into the ring and put all that training back to work. I agree with the suggestions to mimimize the talking and clapping. I do talk to my pup but I almost never clap, except when we see the offset figure 8. Treats and toys - hard for a lab to ignore. We finished our RAE and after 20 times in the ring - nerves do diminish. That has helped me in Agility with my other pup because I am much calmer. I tried very hard last year to put showing in persepctive. Its fun, I want to do well but I am not going to be overly consumed with disappointment about a bad performance. So give it a try and I'll bet you will enjoy yourself and do well.
Kelleygreens Couer D'Or, CGC,CD, RAE2 - Doro - Nov. 21, 1995 to Jan. 14, 2010
Kelleygreens The Shamrock Kid, CGC, OM, UDX2, RE, NA, NAJ, AXP, AJP, ASCA CDX, - Shamrock
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LOL 2yellowlabs, that's how me and Maddy ended up in Rally too. She can do everything in Open but is unreliable on the broad jump. I thought I might as well keep her in the ring and get these titles while we think about the broad jump again.