Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rally-O 101

I wish I had a penny for every time someone asked me what Rally-O was. So, in this post I hope to help explain it by telling you what someone else said. Hahaha. I'm just not good at explaining Rally-O. But who knows, maybe you will become interested in it.


"What in the world is that?!" someone asked me at a recent show and pointed to the ring where stewards were setting up ground-level signs. I answered simply, "rally obedience," and explained the strange goings-on in the ring.

Rally obedience, or "Rally-O" as it has been termed by enthusiasts, is the latest American Kennel Club event to hit the show circuit. Rally-O combines characteristics of sports car racing, dog agility, and traditional obedience into a new fun sport.

Rally is timed, includes 12-20 performance stations depending on the level of participation, and is scored by a judge who watches for a smooth performance as well as skill in following the directions at each station.

As it does with obedience and agility, AKC offers Rally titles at three levels:

  • Novice, with on-leash exercises that demonstrate the dog's understanding of basic commands such as sit, stay, down, and come and heel position;
  • Advanced, a set of exercises performed off-leash that includes at least one jump; and
  • Excellent, a more difficult off-leash course that includes at least one jump and demonstrates more precise skill and coordination between the dog and handler.

As in agility, courses are designed by the judge and are different in every trial. Exhibitors receive a course map from the judge and can walk the course without their dogs prior to the start of the class. Judges design their courses by choosing from more than four dozen stations that direct handlers and dogs to perform specific exercises.

A sign at each station gives instructions to the dog-handler team, and each team must execute the station's particular task within two-to-four feet of the sign. Once the judge gives the command "forward," the dog and handler complete the course on their own without further commands from the judge. Handlers may not use treats or toys in the ring, but may do anything else to encourage their dogs at the novice and advanced levels except physically touch them or make corrections with the leash. Encouragement is allowed at the excellent level but handlers cannot pat their legs or clap their hands as they can in novice and advanced classes.

Signs instruct teams to go fast or slow, to halt (dog must sit at heel), to make turns and circles, to reverse direction, to do a sit-stay-recall, or to follow other basic obedience exercises.

Each team has a starting score of 100 points from which points are deducted for such faults as missed or incompletely performed stations, touching the dog, leash corrections, etc. The team with the highest score (i.e., fewest number of faults) wins first place, followed by the next highest score for second place, and so forth.

If two teams achieve the same score, the judge determines the placements according to the time recorded for each team's course completion.

Rally-O is a wonderful introduction to the sport of obedience for dogs and owners, an end it itself, an opportunity for veteran dogs to remain active, and a chance for shy or anti-social dogs to get ring experience without worrying about being examined by a judge.

Many dogs enjoy this change from the usual silent heeling of traditional obedience as their handlers can clap hands, talk, whistle (even sing!) to them throughout the entire course without penalty. Those who participate in agility trials will recognize the pre-class "walk-throughs" and the challenge of working with their dog partners in an almost dance-like flow from one station to another. A complete description of Rally Obedience is on the AKC website at http://www.akc.org/pdfs/rulebooks/RO2999.pdf. Station signs for all three levels can be found http://www.akc.org/pdfs/rulebooks/ROR999.pdf. Information is also available at dog clubs that are sponsoring demonstrations and classes for an increasing number of dog owners who are happily exclaiming "Rally-O!"

By Denise A. Gordon

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flyball Training - Part 2

Now that you know what flyball is, you can start to plan what you want to do. You need to decide if you are doing this for fun or competition, if you're going to join a team or start your own, are you going to build your equipment or buy it. These are choices that I can't help you make, but I'll do my best to help you get started as best as I can.

Fun or Competition

Let's start here since this is the first thing you need to decide. If you're not willing to spend time, money, energy, etc. Then competition is not for you. Even though training flyball for fun still takes these things, it is less stressful since you don't have to hurry with training, and spend loads of time, energy, and money on all training. So talk it through, and decide then move on to the next step.

To Build or To Buy

Well, I didn't have the money to buy, therefore I made the jumps. Ok. I did buy the box from a friend who was getting out of flyball, but that was because it was cheap and my dad wasn't sure how to build one. But if you're deteremined to buy then you can skip this section and go here.

If you want to build your equipment, there are really easy directions to go by, but I'll warn you, that if you're doing competition then I would build the equipment, train uses that and save money and get the ones made for competitions and uses those, because there are so many rules on six=zes of the jumps and box that it will save you a lot of stress at competitions if you buy equipment to use at competitions. Here are the directions.

Joining or Starting

Well, it depends really on where you live. See where I live the closest team is 1 1/2 hours away. So, I was going to have to start my own. I started with putting flyers out and getting the word out about it. I was contacted and found out that the lady was starting a dog club (puppy play group) and now I have about five other people interested in flyball. So now I have almost enough dogs for two teams, but if you still want to join a team then go here.

Well, this is the end of part two. The next part will be on equipment and books to read that will also aid you in your journey in flyball. Until next time. Bye.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I took Rascal to his first Show-n-go. He was so excited. He drooled and wanted to love on everyone. It started at 9Am. Excellent was first, then Advance, and finally Novice, which is what we were in. Barb McNinch from Ringtime was there and she walked me through the Excellent course just to let me get a feel for it. Rascal whined when I stepped away from him and even when I just went to the bathroom which was right beside where we were sitting. We did two runs. The first one wasn't go good. I practiced on the sidelines right before and he still freaked when we got out there. He was just focused on everything, but me. We reached one sign and I told him around and started to walk when I noticed that he wasn't following. I turned around and there he was looking at his reflection in a mirror against the wall. He never showed interest in his reflection at home, but there it was different. He acted like he was in a trance and everyone was laughing. I pulled him away and the next thing happened. We came to an off set weave sign. We needed to weave a figure eight around two cones, but there were two dog bowls with toys. One had a tennis ball and the other one had a squeaky hedgehog in it. " Oh No!" I thought. Two of his favorite toys just sitting there, waiting to be played with. I started the figure eight. He lunged for the tennis ball. I kept going. Then for the hedgehog. I continued on my not so merry way. We finished with not to many more problems.

The second run was better. He paused for just a sec at the mirror until he realized that I wasn't going to stop. Then at the figure eight, he glanced that the toys, then imediately looked right back at me. He did fairly good even through it was his first time.

If you don't know a lot about Rally-O (Rally Obedience) then I encourage you to go look it up. It just might be the dog sport for you. Have a blessed day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flyball Training - Part 1

Well, before we get started in this series of posts dedicated to training your dog for flyball, let's talk about some of the history of flyball.

It all bagan in the late 1960's, when a group of trainers from Southern California created a scent discrimination hurdle race. When the dogs finished, there would be someone who would throw tennis balls to the dogs. They then decided to build something that would launch the balls known as a box. The first box was created by Herbert Wagner and Herbert also did a demo on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Doing that enabled the word to spread on this great sport. It was several dog training clubs in Toronto-Detroit area that held the first competition. After it was a big enough sport the first real tournament was held in 1983 and in 1985, Mike Randell wrote the first ever NAFA rule book and became the first NAFA Executive Director.

In Flyball, two teams race side-by-side over a 51 foot course. Each dog must run down the lane, jump over all four jumps, trigger the box, catch the ball, and go back over all four jumps again. All four dogs on the team must do this. There is no time limit, but you are racing at the same time that the other team is. Therefore, you are trying to beat their time.

The jump height is set to the height of the smallest dogs on the team's withers. The number is then rounded down to the nearest inch and another 5in. is subtracted, but the min. height is 7 in. For example, a 13 3/4 in. dog would round down to a 13 in. dog, then you subtract 5 inches and get 8 in. jump height. Like I said the min. jump height is 7in., while the max. is 14 in.

When flyball was first started there were no start and passing lights. It was all called by line judges who used stop watches to time the races and they would do "ready, set, go!" and when they called go, they would blow a whistle. The jump heights were set to a 10 in. min. and the height of the jumps was determined by the height of the smallest dog, like they do now, except it was rounded up or down. For example, if the height of the dog was 13 3/4 inches than they would round up to 14 in., but if it was 13 1/4 inches than they would round down to 13 in.

When the Electronic Judging system (EJS) came it made things a whole lot easier. The EJS uses lights and infrared timing to show the teams their starts, finishes, passing and individual times. Most teams run all four dogs under 20 sec and the World Record is 15.22 seconds. That's fast.

The NAFA divides their tournaments in divisions. Teams compete against other teams that are equal to themselves. Purebred and mixes can compete in flyball and earn titles. The NAFA holds nearly 300 tournaments a year.

Titles Each time a team races in a NAFA sanctioned Flyball tournament, their dogs earn points based on the following:

-under 24 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 25 points towards a Flyball title

-under 28 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 5 points

-under 32 seconds: each dog racing in that heat receives 1 point

20 Flyball Dog (FD)
(includes certificate of achievement)
100 Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX)
(includes certificate of achievement)
500 Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh)
(includes certificate of achievement)
1000 Flyball Dog Champion-Silver (FDCh-S)
(includes certificate of achievement)
2500 Flyball Dog Champion-Gold (FDCh-G)
(includes certificate of achievement)
5000 Flyball Master (FM)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
10,000 Flyball Master Excellent (FMX)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
15,000 Flyball Master Champion (FMCh)
(includes certificate of achievement and commemorative pin)
20,000 ONYX
(includes commemorative plaque and pin)
30,000 Flyball Grand Champion (FGDCh-30)
(includes Commemorative Plaque and Pin)
40,000 Commemorative pin and plaque
50,000-90,000 Commemorative pin and plate for 40k plaque
100,000 Hobbes Award
(includes commemorative pin and plaque)

Well, this talk has been fun. I look forward to teaching you how to train your dog for flyball. I'm still not sure how long this series will last, but hopefully not to long. Keep in Touch!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Puppy Play Group

Our group has finally started getting together. We have about ten people and almost enough dogs to do two flyball teams. We get together and let the dogs run around and play and then we do some training. We have an Australian Shepherd, three labs, one JRT, one Golden, one Beagle, and one Labradoodle. We are going to be working onfFlyball, obedience, scenting, agility, and a lot of other cool things. We are also looking at getting someone to do an attack dog demo. Let's hope we can. I mean what's more exciting than watching a dog that is trained to attack on command, release on command and track people down? Well? Not much. I will keep filling you guys in on everything and be on a lookout for our blog which should be coming soon. But like Aslan says "I call all times soon". And remember, a trained dog is a happy dog.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beach Ahoy!

Well, Rascal went to the beach for the first time. How should I put this nicely? He didn't like it. The water moving towards him, the sand moving beneath his paws, and the water touching him. I would run towards the water and he would follow me. Then the water would come towards us and he would take off for shore, but the leash snatched him back. He would see me still standing there and would rush in front of me and try to block the water from me. Hahaha! He was so scared, but he did enjoy the sand and shells. We also discovered a jellyfish that had washed up on shore. He thought that he could just walk up and sniff it. Luckily, I stopped him in time. We stayed about an hour and then drove the hour home. Let's just say that Rascal was beat. He slept the whole way home.