What is Rally (previously Rally Obedience)?

Rally is a relatively recent fun dog-sport based on traditional dog Obedience but carried out in a more informal and relaxed style, with the handler able to talk to and encourage or praise their dog throughout, making for an easier transition from a raining class to the competition ring.

The handler has the opportunity to walk the course set up by the judge to familiarise themselves with a course of sequential signs in advance of performing it with their dog.

Unlike in traditional Obedience, handlers are allowed to encourage their dogs during the course, so you may use as much verbal praise and petting as you wish.

It can be a great way to increase your bond with your dog, and to help you and your dog develop skills that can be applied in everyday life, or in other dog-sports.

'Rally' trials are held  a little less frequently than more traditional Obedience competitions, so it's not always easy to see it in action locally, but this video illustrates some of its  principles and commands.

Rally training is conducted at Dover on Sunday mornings 11.15am until 12noon.

Who can do Rally?

'Rally' is a wonderful introduction to the sport of Obedience for dogs of all breeds and ages, and owners of all levels of ability. It provides an opportunity for veteran dogs to remain active, and a chance for shy or anti-social dogs to get experience in the ring without worrying about being examined by a judge.  Timid or anxious dogs find the soft verbal praise very reassuring,  which can build confidence.  Handlers with disabilities may compete, provided they can move about the ring without physical assistance (wheelchairs / walking sticks are allowed). 


A team consists of a dog and a handler, moving around a course with the dog in 'heel' position. 

The course is laid out using numbered signs which instruct the team to go fast or slow, to halt (dog must sit at heel), to make turns and circles, to reverse direction, to do a sit-stay-recall, to go over a jump, and to follow other basic obedience exercises

There are four levels in competition:

  • Novice
  • Advanced
  • Excellent
  • Masters

Novice is conducted on-lead. Advanced and Excellent are conducted off-lead. Advanced and Excellent courses include jumps, and more challenging exercises, while Masters (new in 2016) is more demanding still. 

There should be evidence of teamwork between the dog and handler, but perfect 'heel position' is not required. The team starts with 100 points, and the judge deducts points for mistakes such as a tight leash, crooked sits, or performing an exercise incorrectly. There is no time limit and the team moves at their own pace, however at competition level the performance is timed and in the event of a tied score, the fastest team wins. The judge expects to see the dog demonstrate willingness and enjoyment. Unlimited communication between handler and dog is encouraged. Handlers may give multiple commands and signals but may not physically guide or correct the dog. Food or toys are not permitted in competition.

Courses are designed by the judge and are different in every trial. Handlers receive a course map from the judge and can walk the course without their dogs prior to the start of the competition.


All you need is a flat collar and a comfortable 1.2 metre lead.

You may also use a harness or head collar during training, or you can use a slip collar. 
Please consult your instructor when choosing equipment, as slip collars or other tools must be fitted and used correctly if they are to be safe and effective.

The Rally-specific course signs and markers are provided by the club, but can be made from items available in a standard hardware or Sports store if you want to have your own practice set.