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The American Kennel Club has approved a new canine event, AKC Rally, in which dog and handler negotiate a course of exercises according to sequentially numbered signs. AKC Rally officially begins on January 1, 2005.

The team may work at its own pace, with the dog heeling from sign to sign. Each sign contains an exercise illustrated with symbols. In total, there are 50 exercise signs that judges may use to design the courses, and the number of required exercises can increase with each level of competition.

Because dog/handler teams can take their time in the ring, AKC Rally is a fun, low-stress way for people to enjoy their dogs, said Patricia Krause, AVP, Companion Events. AKC Rally takes the average pet owner a step beyond CGC and basic obedience training and into the exciting world of AKC canine sports.

AKC Rally includes three levels of competition: Novice, Advanced and Excellent. In Novice, all exercises are performed on-leash and the handler is allowed to use multiple hand signals and verbal commands. Rally Novice, for many, will serve as a fun entry-level class to both obedience and agility. The Rally Advanced and Rally Excellent classes offer more challenging exercises. The Advanced and Excellent classes require that all exercises be performed off-leash.

Four new AKC titles may be earned in AKC Rally competition: Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE) and Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE).