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The Joy of Rally

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Sometimes Rally Obedience gets a bad rap -- it's looked down on by some dog folks as "too easy, too lax, too informal." You're allowed to encourage the dog, repeat commands, etc. The dog is even allowed to be on leash throughout the entire course and the heeling does not have to be precise!

And this is sometimes true -- I was disappointed at the last Rally show I attended. All the heeling was jerky, the sits were crooked, and many of the dogs looked worried or shut down. Done well, however, Rally is a beautiful, fluent display of elegance and joy -- much like dressage in the equine world. Just because the sport is easier -- just because you are "allowed" to repeat commands, for example -- does not mean that you should not train for immediate, tail-wagging response to a single command. Just because you are allowed to coach and prompt your dog throughout the course does not mean that you shouldn't train for your dog to accept quiet, subtle handling. YOU make the rally course as formal and beautiful, or as informal and sloppy as YOU train for!

Today's video is 10-month-old Halo's first attempt at a rally "course." There are only six signs instead of 10-15, because I wanted to make sure her first experience was successful. Also, look at how small the space is! (It's also quite uneven.) Practice in small spaces can help your precision -- if you only have room for 1 or 2 steps, there's no room to get it wrong.

I'm still on the fence about Halo's readiness for her first Rally trial (tentatively scheduled for late October.) She had no trouble with the cones though, so that's a big plus!

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