Rally Obedience, also known as Rally-O, is a relatively recent canine discipline open to all mixed breed and purebred dogs over 6 months of age and their handlers. The goal of this discipline is to foster correct relationships between a dog and its handler, based on mutual trust and respect and on collaboration.

Rally obedience: a discipline for happy dogs and handlers

What does the Rally-O consist of?

Rally Obedience consists of a course that is completed by a dog-handler dyad, defined in technical terms as a “binomial”. Depending on the difficulty level, the route consists of 10 to 20 stations, through which the pair must proceed smoothly and at a brisk pace, with the dog always to the left-hand side of the handler. Special signs, containing instructions on the exercise to be carried out, are placed at each station. Throughout the course, handlers can positively reinforce the dog by praising him or using food, while punishments and leash tugs cause penalties.

In the end the pair with the highest score wins, but Rally-O is not a timed competition. Time is considered only to identify the winning couple among those with equal points in the final ranking.

Rally-O was born in the United States in 2005, when Dr Charles “Bud” Kramer wrote and published “Rally – the Style of Rally Obedience”, which contains the original signs for Rally races, following her first book “Dog Agility- For All Dogs”, released in 1987.

In Italy, Rally-O for dogs and handlers is regulated by three main organisations: CSEN (National Educational Sports Centre), FICSS (Italian Federation of Dog Sport and Rescue) and FICS (Italian Federation of Dog Sports).

1 Rally obedience: a discipline for happy dogs and handlers

Is Rally Obedience connected to Obedience?

Rally-O is not linked to Obedience. Unlike Obedience, for example, the binomial does not have to wait for the judge’s orders, they rather complete the entire sequence of instructions in total autonomy. Furthermore, though the collaboration between the members of the binomial is fundamental, an Obedience conduct is not required.

Is Rally-O really open to all dogs?

Yes, Rally-O is open to all dogs over 6 months old, as long as they are healthy and not aggressive. Females in an advanced state of pregnancy or lactation are not allowed and, according to some regulations, neither are females on heat.

At what age can you become a Rally-O driver?

Virtually at all ages! In the CSEN Rally-O regulations, for example, there is a Pre-Junior course consisting of 4 to 6 stations and open to drivers under the age of 8. Pre-Junior drivers can be accompanied throughout the race by an adult who is at least 18 years old. The adult can encourage or help children, but they must remain off the course and they are prohibited from leading or giving commands to the dog.

In the Veteran degree, on the other hand, handlers over the age of 65 and all dogs aged 9 and over can participate.

Rally Obedience is a sport for dogs and handlers who want to express the best of their relationship in a healthy and fun atmosphere!

Are you ready to start? Good Rally-O everyone!

Federica Pirrone, Mariangela Albertini, Patrizia Piotti researchers at UNIMI Veterinaria