Search Menu

Rally: Get Started

Rally: Get Started

You and your dog are a team. You do almost everything together – take walks, eat, veg out, even sleep together. So think of the fun you’d have showing off what a great team you are at an AKC Rally® event!

AKC Rally® is one of the newest AKC sports and participation increases every year. Whether you just train or decide to compete, Rally develops better teamwork between you and your dog. Just as importantly, it will sharpen your dog’s obedience skills and behavior – at home and in public.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Know the Basics

AKC Rally® is all about teamwork. You and your dog navigate a course together, side-by-side, at your own brisk pace. You move him through a course with signs where he performs different exercises. The courses are designed by the Rally judge (10-20 signs per course, depending on the class level) that include various turns and commands such as sit, down, stay, etc.

Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. While touching isn’t allowed, you can use verbal commands, clap your hands, pat your legs and use hand signals to praise and encourage your dog.

Scoring in Rally is less rigorous than in other competitions like traditional obedience. You begin with a perfect score of 100, with points deducted along with way. If you retain a score of at least 70 points, you will qualify toward earning a title. As you qualify the required number of times, you will move onto the next level.

Where to Begin
If you haven’t yet seen AKC Rally in person, we encourage you to do so to become familiar with ring procedures. You’ll see first-hand how much fun it is – and you’ll be able to ask questions of owners who are experienced in AKC Rally events.

Take a Class

As it is with any sport, we highly recommend getting involved with your local AKC Club and taking a class. Prospective students are usually welcome to observe a class before signing up for a training course. When you attend a class with your dog, instructors will show you how to train your dog and will expect you to practice at home. The younger the dog, the shorter the practice sessions should be. For the best results, both you and your dog should enjoy frequent short sessions, combined with some play and rewards.

There are six levels of Classes in AKC Rally:

Novice is for those just getting started:

  • All exercises are performed with your dog on leash.
  • There are 10-15 signs.
  • Exercises vary from turning 360 degrees to changing paces during the course.
  • You may talk, clap your hands and/or pat your legs to encourage your dog.
  • To earn a title, it takes three qualifying scores.

Intermediate/Advanced Classes:

  • After Novice, handlers may choose which class they are ready to participate in, either the Intermediate or Advanced level.
  • All exercises are performed on-leash in the Intermediate level and there is no jump required.
  • All exercises are performed off-leash in the Advanced level and there is one jump required.
  • There are 12-17 signs.
  • To earn a title, it takes three qualifying scores.

Excellent is the next level of competition. The course is like the Advanced level (above), but with some more challenging exercises.

  • All exercises are performed off-leash.
  • Handlers are not allowed to pat their legs or clap their hands to encourage the dog.
  • Dogs must jump twice.
  • There are 15-20 signs.
  • To earn a title, it takes three qualifying scores.

Master/Choice: These classes are the highest level of competition.

  • All exercises are performed off-leash.
  • Handlers are not allowed to pat their legs or clap their hands to encourage the dog.
  • Dogs must jump once in Master, no jumps in Choice
  • There are 15-20 signs
  • To earn a title, it takes ten qualifying scores.

Enter a Rally trial

You’ve both worked so hard and it’s time for your first trial (“competition”). The official announcement of a club’s event is called a “premium list.” It contains all relevant information regarding the trial, including date, location, classes offered, and judges — as well as an entry form.

To enter a rally trial, the owner of the dog must submit an official AKC entry form, which can be found in the premium list or on the AKC website. The entry form should be sent to the trial secretary or superintendent of the trial listed in the premium list. You may find rally trials using the AKC Event Search on the website. After the entries have closed, a program showing the schedule for the judging of each class will be mailed to you along with all relevant information about the trial.

To be eligible to compete, your dog must be:

  • 6 months of age or older
  • Have an AKC number via one of the following:
  • Spayed females and neutered males are eligible to participate but females in season are not.
  • Dogs that are deaf are allowed to participate, but dogs that are blind are not eligible.
  • No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.