AKC Rally is an obedience competition in which the handler and dog complete a numbered course,that has been designed by a rally judge. At each number on the course is a sign which tells the team what exercise to perform. There are 50 possible signs, increasing in difficulty, from which the judge picks for his course. Each course has from 12-20 signs. Rally has three levels, like obedience; Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA) and Rally Excellent (RE). The dog and handler must pass three times at each level to earn a title and move on to the next level.
Each rally sign has instructions as to the skill to perform, such as:
Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience. The judge gives the team a command to "forward", after which they proceed through the course to the finish sign. A brisk but normal pace is desirable, with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between dog and handler while on the floor; however, 'perfect' heel position is not required, as in obedience competition. Any faults from regualr obedience that would count as 1 point off or more, are scored the same in rally. ½ point deductions are ignored in rally.
Unlike obedience, a handler in rally may have unlimited communication with her dog; praising, repeating commands or signals, etc., and clapping hands and patting the legs (in novice and advanced levels only).The arms or hands need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.
AKC introduced rally competition as a means of welcoming newly-competing dogs and handlers into AKC performance competitions without the rigorous demands and training required of obedience or agility. It gives them a gentle way to first enter a ring and be judged. It is the hope that those taking part in rally competition might be so encouraged that they will go on to other AKC performance events.