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Rally Obedience – A fun team sport for dogs and handlers

Harley, my miniature poodle, and I went to a dog show in Conroe last weekend where we competed in Rally Obedience. Unlike a regular obedience competition, where a judge gives orders, competitors navigate a course of stations with the dog in heel position. It was me and Harley's first show, and we were competing in the novice class against other handlers who were new to the sport as well.  Unlike traditional obedience, handlers are allowed to encourage their dogs during the course. We compete in AKC rally where you start with 100 points and the judge deducts points for mistakes. A qualifying score is a 70 or above. If you qualify three times the dog earns a title.

We arrived in Conroe early to make sure we did not miss our class. While we were there we talked with some very nice people. One man had a golden retriever that he was raising as a service dog competing in the novice class. This was a way for him to try something new and switch up his training routine. Another person who was competing for the first time had a rescue dog that was about five years old. She was extremely proud of how well her dog was doing in the busy show atmosphere with many new people and dogs.

When it was finally time for me and Harley to compete I was a little nervous. The judge invited us into the ring and asked if we were ready. I looked down at Harley and then back at the judge and replied yes. The first station was a pretty tricky and we lost a few points. We kept moving through the stations, working together as a team, and after the longest minute and a half of my life we finished the course.

At the end all the ribbons were passed out with many of the top scores going to high school and college students showing their dogs. While me and Harley didn't get first place we did receive a qualifying score, one score closer to a title. I was very proud of Harley, at only 11 months old he did very well considering all the distractions. We will continue to practice and improve our teamwork. Competing in dog sports like obedience or agility is a great way to spend time with your dog and other people who love their dogs as well.