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Discussion Starter #1
Hi knowledgable poodle forum. We have our first Rally trial next week. I feel very underprepared. We took an obedience class, but the trainer never explained the trials, we just did individual exercises. I've studied the Rally signs on YouTube and I've been to one Rally Run Through.

What do I need to know for the trial? I've read no food in the ring. That means no food on me, not only not giving any food, right?

My leash is not exactly 6 ft (bought in a country with the metric system). Do you think that's a problem for the beginner class?

Appreciate any tips you can give me!

PS: We're doing this between to conformation shows, so he'll show up with lots of hairspray :alberteinstein:
 

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I am glad you have decided to show that poodles aren't just pretty faces but that they have brains to match. If your leash is 2 m then it will be a bit longer than 6 feet which will be just fine.


No food on you or for that matter within 8 feet of the entrance to the ring. Make sure your boy chews and swallows anything you've given him before you approach the ring gate. You can be NQd for the dog coughing up food in the ring. Make sure he has had a potty stop before you go.


Make sure you have a crate or have lined up a reliable and trustworthy person to hold him while you walk the course. Don't skip the walk through!


Once you have started on the course remember to breathe and remember that in novice you can talk to the dog fairly freely. Rally is about showing your connectedness and teamwork.


Most of all have fun!
 

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Good luck. I know you’ve entered conformation so you have a sense of entering the ring to compete which should help.

No food or toys or lures in the ring or near the entrance. No treat bags or anything that looks like it could carry treats. No phone, wallet or purse on you as you enter the ring. Leave everything where you crate.

Do bring your own crate and chair so you and your dog will feel comfortable. Arrive about an hour ahead so you have to to potty your dog and have him get used to the environment of the rally trial. If your crate is in another area for conformation then you might want a friend nearby to hold your dog for the walk through.

Keep your leash pretty loose, not so loose that you trip over it, but loose enough that if your dog isn’t in perfect heel position he isn’t pulling on the leash. The rest of the leash will be folded up and held in your hand. No one will measure your leash so don’t worry. (I competed AKC Novice Rally with a 4’ leash. Beginner Novice and Novice Obedience requires a 6’ leash.) You lose points when your dog is out of position AND you lose points if the leash is tight. Every time the judge sees a tight leash you could lose 1-2 points. Every time the judge sees your dog out of position you could lose 1-2 points so you can see if your dog lags at a 180° turn to the right you could lose 1-2 points but if the leash is also tight, now you are losing even more points.

Do read the rules, it’s very helpful to understand how they judge rally. https://cdn.akc.org/Rally/AKC1086_ROR001_Yellow_Insert.pdf

You can talk to your dog to keep that connection but you can’t touch him in the ring. If the leash gets tangled under his legs (this happened to me when my dog laid down, ask the judge if you can touch your dog to fix the leash don’t assume you can lift a leg to get the leash untangled).

From the moment you enter the ring, until you leave, keep your focus on your dog. I never look at the judge when I bring my dog into the ring, I answer all questions to the judge with my head bent to look at my dog. This would be rude behavior outside the world of dog competition but expected in a trial. The time to look at the judge is during the walk through and after during the ribbons ceremony.

Take your full time allotted to walk the course in the walk through. Walk it as if you have a dog, hand signals, turning etc. everyone does, I call it our rally dance. I usually get three times to repeat the walk. This is your time to ask any questions of the judge, especially if you aren’t sure about a sign or it’s placement. Usually the sign is to your right, but there are some signs such as 20. Moving Side Step Right where you perform in front of the sign. This is when your dog will be crated or held by someone else as no dogs will be allowed in the ring for walk through. Bring the rally rule book or a rally app to the trial in case you want to look up a sign. You should get a rally map before the walk through to review and familiarize yourself with.

I count the rally signs in my head as I do them so I don’t miss one. I know a rally judge who reads the sign out loud. So she’ll begin at the start sign and she says to her dog “Number 1 is a sit” then when they get there she tells her dog to sit, the. She reads “number 2 is ....”. This is one way to be certain you don’t miss a sign.

Have fun and good luck in both rally and conformation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much. I had no idea that I'm not allowed to touch the dog. That could totally happen that our leash gets tangled.

I'll study the rule book and review the signs.

When is typically the walk through? This is our schedule:

  • Breed starts at 9, there are 14 or 15 entries before us, according to schedule we're done at 10:15
  • Rally Novice A is at 11:00, 3 entries
  • Specialty starts at 12:45, at least 12 entries before us
Will I have enough time? Would you try to brush out the hair spray or put the regular buckle collar on top of the full spray up? I hope the Rally ring isn't too far away from the breed. My crate is too large to carry it from one ring to the other. I hope my friend has time to hold my dog during the walk through. Or do I have time to go to the walk through and then get my dog from the other ring? I'd prefer to watch the other dogs so I get more time to study the course.
 

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Lily CD RE has more experience trialing at different venues, I've only trialed in a couple but if they write Rally Novice A is at 11 am, and if the trial is running smoothly and on time, then you should be starting the walk through at 11 am and with only 3 entries, you should be done long before 12:45. The first exhibitor will run their dog immediately after the walk through - just enough time to get their dog out of their crate or from who ever is holding their dog.

If things are not running smoothly, it's possible something can slow down the schedule in which case, the walk through would be later than 11 am. They can always delay the start of Rally Novice A if they aren't ready. They can't start earlier than the posted 11 am unless they speak to and get the okay from all 3 exhibitors (you included) that they can start earlier.

If you have any concerns be sure to talk to the Rally judge - the judge who will be judging you - and not the ring stewards. The judge will try to work with you. But I think your schedule timing should would well

You must use a buckle collar - can you fit one over the spray up? I have a very thin rolled collar that I wonder if that could be threaded under the spray up without damaging it too much. What a pain that you have to deal with keeping your dog ready for the conformation ring while competing in rally. I applaud you for doing both in the same trial.

If your crate is too far away, and your friend isn't available to hold your dog, I know you will find plenty of people who would love to help you by holding the leash. I have held the leash of dogs I don't know and I once had to have a stranger hold my dog. When you come to the area where the Rally is being held, talk to some of the people, you might find poodle people who would be thrilled to hold a conformation poodle. You might also see people you know, but were unaware they would be attending.
 

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Skylar is right that if the rings are running on schedule you will have no problems with your three entries. Walk thru at 11:00 means that starting at 11:00 you and the other exhibitors will have ten minutes to walk the course. If you are concerned tell the stewards that you have to go back and forth. They should then get the judge's attention. Most judges will make a way to take those concerns into account.
 

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Rally is fast. AKC estimates 20 dogs. With only three dogs, the walkthrough will be longer than the rally runs. An 11:00 start time will be completely finished, inculidng awards, by 11: 25. Getting to your specialty will be no problem, even if the judge is running way behind.

Since you're doing novice, whatever leash you choose will be fine as long as you keep it loose. No food in the ring, or on your body. That includes during awards at the end. Remember to breathe and have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all, this is super helpful. Can I get the course plan before 11? I believe I've seen printed courses at other rally trials.

I'll take a bit of time after our first show to get the show lead off and the buckle collor on, maybe spray on some Magic Touch. Then I'll head over to Rally and try to get familiar with the ring and people around it. I'll ask my friend if she can come at 11 and hold my dog for the walk through, and to take some pictures during our run. I'll probably wait for all three dogs to finish to see how others walk the course and (I hope) for awards. Then back to specialty, buckled collor off, show lead on, and fix the bubble. There should be plenty of time.

I would prefer to hang out all morning at Rally before our run. Maybe next time.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok, Master opens at 8:30 am, maybe I'll head there before the conformation show. I really need to make sure I know all the signs of the course.
 

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Do you think I can leave on the show lead in addition to the buckle collar? I would wrap up the show lead and hold it in place with a rubber band - that's what I do if I crate him between breed and group ring. I can't take off the show lead while the hairspray is in.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Question: Can I leave the small name tag on the collar? Or does this rule forbid it? "Nothing may be hanging from the dog’s collar."
 

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Do you think I can leave on the show lead in addition to the buckle collar? I would wrap up the show lead and hold it in place with a rubber band - that's what I do if I crate him between breed and group ring. I can't take off the show lead while the hairspray is in.
I would ask the judge, I don’t know if they would make and exception for you. Normally you have to remove flea collars like the Seresto flea collar and leave only the buckled collar. No tags dangling. My dog collar has a brass plate with her name and my contact information which is riveted onto the collar and that is allowed.

I have heard from a few friends that some judges have allowed the seresto to remain on the dog, but all the judges I’ve shown to refuse to allow the dog to wear one. Maybe a judge will allow the show lead to remain as you are also showing in conformation? It would be nice if they would.
 

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The Rally Rules:

Section 14. Use of Leash. All dogs must be kept on a leash except when in the rally ring, warm-up ring or exercise area and must be brought into and taken out of the ring on leash. Dogs must be kept on leash in the ring when brought in to receive awards. Except where otherwise specified in these Regulations, the handler will leave the dog’s leash on the judge’s table or other designated place. The leash must be made of fabric or leather and need only be long enough to provide adequate slack, unless stated otherwise in these Regulations.

Section 15. Collars. All dogs in the rally ring must wear a properly fitted collar approved by the judge. No special training collars, such as electronic collars or prong collars will be permitted. Nothing may be hanging from the dog’s collar.


I would assume your show lead would be just fine to use in the rally ring. It's not electronic, and it doesn't have prongs. And since you're in Novice, you wouldn't be taking it off in the ring at all.

My rally class is taught by a rally judge. I'll ask her tonight and get back to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I would assume your show lead would be just fine to use in the rally ring. It's not electronic, and it doesn't have prongs. And since you're in Novice, you wouldn't be taking it off in the ring at all.
Our show lead is a slip on chain. That seems very harsh for Rally, I'm afraid I'd strangle my dog. Also, I'm trying to use different collars and treats for different activities as contextual clues. Don't want my dog to heel in conformation or to sniff in Rally or to stack in Scent work.

My rally class is taught by a rally judge. I'll ask her tonight and get back to you.
That would be great! Thank you so much.
 

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Spoke to a rally judge. You need a separate collar and a leash. How you are going to remove the show lead without wrecking the spray up, I don’t know. Folding it wouldn’t be acceptable in her ring. Speak to the judge, but be prepared to change leashes.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Spoke to a rally judge. You need a separate collar and a leash. How you are going to remove the show lead without wrecking the spray up, I don’t know. Folding it wouldn’t be acceptable in her ring. Speak to the judge, but be prepared to change leashes.
Thank you so much for asking your trainer! Really appreciate it. That's good to know that folding it up is not acceptable. I'll use my Rosco instead of the chain on that day. I can blow out the neck a little bit to loosen the spray around the lead and the Rosco can fit over his sprayed up head.

I'm excited about our trial!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you all for your help here. I removed the show lead and put on the regular leather collar. My puppy did really well, we got 100 points. He was so focused the whole time. :in-love:

I can't wait to sign up for more Rally!
 
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