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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve had a really fun time doing a drop in class last Wednesday. I had originally just wanted to take Rally for fun and practice maneuvering for service dog training. I am entirely new to the akc competition world. Should I go to competitions? What are some of the biggest challenges people face? Is it a lot of time and financial commitment?


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The lower levels of rally are pretty easy to train for on one's own even. And actually I have never taken a rally class with Lily other than one intro class at my club when she was not even two years old. I have had to really work at teaching her some of the masters signs, but generally I don't practice for my entries very formally most of the time. Generally I just practice the signs I know she would need refreshers for on the day of a trial once I see the course map. I also usually run her through the first three or four signs of the course so she has a preview of the opening sequence. She is now 3 legs away from the 10 needed for a rally master title.


I originally delved into rally as deeply as I did since I thought it would be useful for keeping Lily ring savvy while we got ready for utility. Since that now seems like a lofty dream I am very glad that I have done all of the rally work with her. She enjoys it, does well and we like being on rally courses together.


What you would need is an AKC registration number for Lucky (they will issue them for mixed breed dogs to do companion events like agility, obedience and rally). You can apply through the canine partners program. Here is a link. https://www.akc.org/register/information/canine-partners/enroll/


Entries for AKC companion events can be anywhere from 25 to 30 dollars in the northeast. I don't know if that is consistent all across the US. Once one gets to RAE legs or masters triple Q legs you get a discount on the additional entries for that dog. There is no time limit for how fast you have to accumulate Qs, so you can choose to go on a campaign or you can choose to enter just a couple of times a year at local events as you want to.


If you think you and Lucky would have fun then go for it. You can even try to find fun matches for practice to see if it feels like something you want to continue with even without having a registration number.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for offering a thorough explanation. Lucky has his canine companion registration. Last Wednesday, we didn’t know any rally signs and he did quite well for novice. Most of it is fairly intuitive because one uses it for maneuvering skills for public access work. Rally seems like a sport to hone some obedience skills.



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I think of rally as being like a series of tricks connected by a little bit of heeling. Some of the tricks are obedience tricks, some are agility tricks and some are just fun tricks.

Most of the very serious obedience folks I know are not big into rally since they don't like having heeling attention broken by having to look at signs, but I do also know some top notch obedience folks who do a fair amount of rally too. For Lily rally is her main game now. Since she is ten years old (and albeit in great physical shape) I don't really see lots of full height 22 or 24" jumping down the road for her since I don't want to take a chance on her being injured. The 16" jump height in rally is a no brainer for her though.

For Javelin I will save future rally work for when he is older. He has an RN which we got at PCA before his first birthday. I did it that spring (2016) just so he could get some sort of title at the last PCA show I expected to attend before they moved to the middle of the country.
 

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I definitely think you should do it. It’s fun but it will also help you hone some skills that are handy for a service dog. In the real world we don’t walk in straight lines. There are obstacles to walk around or we forget to get something in aisle 3 and have to turnaround and go back etc. , or walk backwards because something is blocking a narrow opening. All the crazy heeling patterns in rally is helpful in day to day movement.

I started in WCRL rally because they allow giving the dog a treat in the ring for certain exercises and I thought that would help me wean Babykins off food treats in competition. AKC rally and obedience don’t allow treats in the ring.

I would take a class so you get an idea of how to do the exercises. You don’t need lots of classes because as Catherine pointed out it’s easy to train at home. But there are some things you might do that are wrong and you don’t want to train mistakes.

After our last trial for WCRL rally, my trainer was one of the judges. There were quite a few people who entered who had done other things with their dog and thought they could show up to a rally trial and do it. None of them qualified because of stupid things that they didn’t understand such as the concept of married signs. When we did the walk through before the competition you could tell who these people were because they were confused with several signs or doing them wrong.

It’s a fun challenge that you and Lucky would do well in. All signs so you don’t have to worry about hearing a judges commands like you do in Obedience.
 

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Only you can answer if you should show, snow. Some people enjoy learning the skills for fun, and others, like me, enjoy the challenge of perfecting those skills and being formally evaluated to see how we're doing and improving. I come from a horse showing background, so competing is very familiar to me and I really enjoy it. There are highs and lows and everything in between.

Challenges - People can be b*tchy; depends on the show. I have never had a bad judge, but stewards and other competitors can be stressed and cranky. You have to ignore them. Most newbie competitors are really friendly, as you're all in the same boat. Just don't ask them how to do any signs or anything about the course! If in doubt, ask the judge.

Time and financial commitment - You can spend as much or as little time and money as you want. I spend $120 every 7 weeks for training, year-round. Local shows cost $35 per class plus $10 parking, plus gas per day. Away from home shows cost a lot more with the hotel, and sometimes airfaire for the serious competitors. But if you show locally, it's around $150/weekend here (maybe a little less in FL).
 

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None of them qualified because of stupid things that they didn’t understand such as the concept of married signs.

OK, I'm one of the stupid ones - what are married signs? I have only dabbled in rally, so I'm not very knowledgeable.
 

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OK, I'm one of the stupid ones - what are married signs? I have only dabbled in rally, so I'm not very knowledgeable.
I haven't done AKC so I don't know if they marry signs or not.

A married sign is when you can group 2-3 signs together. If one sign ends in a "sit" and another sign starts in a "sit" then if you put the signs together the dog only has to sit once. So the married sign 1 may be a "Halt" sit your dog, married sign 2 is "halt" sit your dog "90 degree pivot right" "halt" sit your dog and married sign 3 is "halt" sit your dog, "leave your dog" "send your dog over jump".

So there are two ways to do this.

As married signs - You do sign 1 and sit , then you do sign 2 - but your dog is already sitting so you don't "sit your dog" again - rather you immediately do the "90 degree pivot right" "halt" sit your dog. Then you do sign 3. Again your dog is sitting from sign 2 so you don't ask them to sit - instead you tell them to stay while you walk past the jump to the next sign and direct your dog to jump and come into front position. By marrying the signs, two sits have been eliminated. Some dogs, particularly older dogs hate to sit (not sure maybe it's harder as they get older?)

You can separate the signs and do each one as regular signs. If you do that you have to be clear and signal to the judge that you are doing it and you have to plan how you will do this in the space given because married signs are all grouped together and not spread on on a course like other signs. Since you can feed your dog a treat when an exercise ends in a sit - there may be a good reason to separate them if you feel your dog needs a food encouragement to continue working.

I think this is tough to learn how to handle if you just show up with a well trained dog that heels beautifully - but you're never seen married signs. When you walk the course you can tell who doesn't understand the married signs.

While most signs are intuitive - you look at the picture and can figure it out - there are a few that are confusing and exercises that are split between multiple signs.
 
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We have not tackled AKC rally but Jazz has her URO1 which is the basic UKC rally title. I found it an interesting challenge for me and Jazz of course enjoyed learning the new tricks. I have stumbled over signs (automatic DQ) and missed seeing signs (also a DQ) and just made a huge mess of things but the judges have all been very nice and so have most of the exhibitors. Above all it taught me new "tricks" for her to play when getting bored at work. And new ways to maneuver when out shopping.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry for a really silly question but what are major difference between rally and obedience other than taking is allowed in rally and scent training in obedience. It seems like obedience is distance and tasked focused. Currently, Lucky’s service dog training class is very similar to videos of open trials for obedience. We do distance training, no voice, and they want 90% response the first time you give a hand signal. Basically, you cannot repeat a hand signal. They call off a bunch of commands for your dog and you cannot talk to the dog. One major difference is proofing required in service dog training. They expect your dog to do all commands under high distractions and wide range of environments.

My main hopes with Rally is to build his confidence in a very busy environment. There are probably 100+dogs in the same room which is roughly 5 classes going on at the same time. From what I see at the club, most rally dogs are collies, poodles, and golden retrievers. It makes complete sense.

Currently, Lucky has the following title CGC, CGCA, CGCU, TKN but he does not have any scent or broad jumping skills. Both Lucky and Kit are registered for Canine Companion and I was thinking it would be fun to do Rally. Currently, we are doing back heel and side step. His side step is horrible and there are not a lot of videos online that teaches you how to perform it.




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"Currently, Lucky has the following title CGC, CGCA, CGCU, TKN but he does not have any scent or broad jumping skills. Both Lucky and Kit are registered for Canine Companion and I was thinking it would be fun to do Rally. Currently, we are doing back heel and side step. His side step is horrible and there are not a lot of videos online that teaches you how to perform it."

You are getting way ahead of yourself. You don't need to worry about scent discrimination, broad jumps, or any of those fancy steps for a long time. Get a good foundation with the Novice signs first.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The most useful signs for SD training are probably the novice signs. I had a discussion about this with a fellow service dog owner who competes in rally, she said the higher level signs for rally are less useful for public access. I am probably more interested in just taking the classes for fun and not for competition at least for now. I am not particularly interested in him learning scent or jumps at all because it isn’t useful for us.


ETA I meant canine partners


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Novice obedience and novice rally have no jumps. There are no send away exercises, but there is a recall in novice obedience. It would only be open and utility in obedience that have jumps, away work and scent. If you look back at the link on rally that I posted above you can see the particulars for upper levels of rally (off leash at advanced and above, one jump in advanced and less ability to do things like pat your leg to get the dog's attention back).
 
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