Companion Events Message from Curt Curtis
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September 16, 2011

The effective date for the new Rally Regulations is April 1, 2012. However, since April 1st falls on a Sunday, AKC has set an implementation date for the new Rally Regulations as Wednesday, April 4, 2012. This implementation date will avoid judges from having to use one set of regulations on Saturday and a new set of regulations on Sunday. Judges who are officiating events on this weekend have been contacted and advised to use the current Rally Regulations as they are written.

The most up-to-date information is available on the AKC Website.
At the below links you will find some helpful information regarding the new Rally Requirements: All AKC Rally Judges should become familiar with these changes and regulations prior to the effective date of April 1, 2012.

We expect our judges to gradually incorporate the new available signs into their courses as they discover the best way to use each one. The new stations will provide exhibitors an opportunity to show off the teamwork achieved between them and their dog.

Aside from the new signs, the overall changes are fairly minimal and were implemented to allow judges to evaluate and score the degree of an error, rather than tabulate, as the premise of scoring remains the same; “Any faults in traditional AKC Obedience that would be evaluated and scored as a one-point deduction or more should be scored the same in rally, unless otherwise mentioned in the Rally Regulations.

Judges are required to penalize a lack of naturalness on the handler which includes the luring, begging and pleading behaviors used repeatedly with an unresponsive dog. Previously these should have been penalized under lack of briskness and lack of teamwork.

The general performance requirements have not changed. Perfect heel position is not required to be successful in Rally. However, as has always been the case, the dog and handler should move continuously at a brisk but normal pace with the dog under control and with a sense of teamwork.

Judges should continue to provide adequate space for all sizes of dogs to perform the stations properly inside the ring. #299 *Call to Heel is to be used as a designation sign for the handler to walk to when leaving the dog for stations 206, 207, 208 and 209. Exact placement of signs is made by the judge while walking the course along the path that will be taken by the handlers.

A station not attempted by the handler earns an NQ, same as in the past. The handler has to go to each appropriate station and make an attempt. Attempting and doing the station incorrectly will result in penalty depending on the errors made, but not in a non-qualifying score.

The Sit Stay and the Jumps are both worth 10 points. Both must be done correctly on the first attempt, otherwise it is scored as an IP (-10). No retries on the Sit Stay or the Jumps.

The question has come up whether or not the handler may pet their dog after completing the Excellent rally course, but before they begin the Sit Stay exercise. The answer is no.

When the handler/dog has crossed the finish, the handler may verbally praise the dog as they move toward the Sit Stay station. Once the Sit Stay station is complete and the judge says, “exercise finished,” the judging is complete and the handler may then pet the dog. The praise should not delay the trial and the exhibitor should move out of the ring as soon as the leash is reattached.

This interpretation is based on the regulation found in Chapter 3, Section 3, which states that handlers may not touch their dog or make any physical corrections in the Excellent class.

Beginner Novice, Graduate Novice, Graduate Open and Versatility are all “optional titling classes.” This simply means the titles are not required in the title advancement process of Novice, Open or Utility, nor are the clubs required to hold one in order to hold another, etc.

These are obedience titles and if a dog has any obedience title it must be entered in the “B” classes for all rally levels.

Chapter 6, Section 14. Recall Scoring. A dog must receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score if it is given an additional command and/or signal to stay, if more than two commands and/or signals are required for the dog to come, if it fails to come, if it moves from the place it was left before being called and/or signaled to come, or if it does not come close enough to its handler so that the handler could touch its head without excessive bending, stretching, or moving either foot.

Minor to substantial deductions will be made for a handler’s extra command or signal to come or to sit, or if the dog fails to come at a brisk trot or gallop, or fails to sit.

Minor deductions will be made for slow or poor sits.

There is no restriction, according to the Beginner Novice regulations, to restrict when a second command to come can be given.

Yes, this is allowed. There is nothing in the Regulations prohibiting this. The dogs name may be embroidered or attached via a brass plate etc. as long as nothing is hanging from the collar.

Ideally clubs often hire local judges to judge most of the Non-Regular classes as these classes are an excellent opportunity for prospective judges to gain experience.

These classes are intended to be informal. When your services are needed, we trust you to work through the nuances of these classes while making the experience pleasant for each and every exhibitor.

If you have questions please contact one of the Field Reps.

Questions have been asked if AKC allows such a thing among obedience judges when they are exhibiting. NO! Absolutely NOT! Regardless of what may be meant by the phrase there is no room for even the slightest hint of any such thing and judges would be in direct violation of the Judge’s Guidelines some of which is quoted below:

  • Impartiality. It is essential that exhibitors have full faith in the impartiality and competence of judges. There is no room for even the suggestion that anything other than the work of the dogs in the ring is involved in your decisions.
  • You must possess and project an unwavering air of integrity and ethical behavior that maintains the reputation of AKC Obedience trials as being fair and properly judged. With common sense, judges can easily avoid situations that might raise ethical questions.
  • Many judges combine exhibiting and judging without causing complaints. The reason is simple. They are prudent in how and when they exhibit, and they demonstrate the utmost in decorum and sportsmanship.


Please watch the AKC website for information on seminars.

Obedience Judges must attend an Obedience Seminar every three years, Rally Judges must attend an Obedience & Rally Seminar every three years. In most cases, the Obedience Seminar is held on Saturday and the Rally Seminar is held on Sunday. Plan ahead, seminars will be limited to six per year and they will rotate regionally so that a seminar will be held in that region once every three years, except that there will be a seminar held each year in Raleigh, NC. Judges should watch for seminars scheduled in an area near them and may need to attend a seminar earlier than their third year to get on track to attend the seminar in their region.

Seminars have been scheduled to date as follows:

2012 Seminar Dates:

2013 Seminar Dates:

March 3 & 4, Atlanta, GA

January 5 & 6, Contra Costa County, CA

April 14 & 15, Reading, PA

August 24 & 25, Raleigh, NC

April 21 & 22, Dallas, TX

September 14 & 15, Brooklyn Heights, OH

May 19 & 20, Bloomington, MN

September 21 & 22, Lakeland, FL

August 25 & 26, Raleigh, NC

September 22 & 23, Flint, MI

If you are in need of an observation please send a request stating the dates, name of the club and location of the events to Schedules are typically approved 4-5 months in advance and requests made prior to that timeline will not be able to be accommodated.

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On February 27th, the Companion Events department will say farewell to Obedience/Rally Field Representative Larry Warsoff of California as he retires from AKC. Larry’s two decade tenure at AKC oversaw may changes in the sport of Obedience and the beginning of AKC Rally. We wish both Larry and his wife Donna the best as he moves into this new phase of life.

Until Next Time…
Remember, YOU Make it Work!
Your continuing efforts to judge in a friendly, courteous, honest, impartial and consistent manner are appreciated by exhibitors, clubs and the Companion Events Department. Keep up the good work.


Pam Manaton
Director of Obedience, Rally & Tracking

And the Field Reps… Larry Warsoff, Bill Thayne and Diane Schultz

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