Rally-O is a more recent type of obedience competition where the dog can be encouraged through the stations. The animal-handler team are observed from the moment you enter the show-grounds. Any type of harsh language, physical correction or serious misbehavior will have the team excused. The Rally-O ring can be 18-22 signs (stations) with quite a range of commands set up in a pattern . People can walk the pattern prior to the competition and ask the judge any questions about the command or direction etc. It can be a lot of fun, but of course with a Kerry, it can also have a few novel twists, which is the challenge part.
When I last competed, it was out-of-doors and I had 2 dogs ( Kerries of course) entered. My sister came along to watch and hold 1 dog while I was in the ring with the other.
The dogs and I do a lot of walking and hiking, the verbal command is “let’s go!” One of the stations called for moving quickly to the next station. When I said to Kohl, “Let’s go!” Zzin, watching at ringside, also heard the command and was not about to be left behind. Thank goodness my sister is a big woman and used to have Giant Schnauzers. She managed to hold on to Zzin and the leash. If Zzin had entered the ring all 3 of us( 2 dogs and I ) would have been excused from that day’s competion. Kohl and I carried on with the rest of the stations. He went on to pass and placed 5th out of 28.
Zzin is my Border collie in drag. She is always eager to be doing something and watches me keenly to see what and where the action is. She also likes to posture with other dogs. So you can imagine my concern when we are at the show-grounds and she is lethargic. Treats didn’t have any appeal, nor did the strange noises. I thought about going to the show vet, but there would be no symptoms to describe , other than an atypical terrier. I pulled her from competition that morning, but carried on with Kohl. She did watch from ringside, and I wonder if she didn’t resent being left out. Because in the afternoon, she became her usual self, so we went back into the competition. She pulled me into the ring and did very well. It was her handler (me) who erred on one of the commands and made a few other 2 legged errors. Inspite of that, she placed 3rd out of 25. her score was better than Kohl’s.
I have had Kerries since 1986, all staying with me as breeding stock and need to show some brain power (and trainability}. Besides the show championship, obedience and pet therapy have been the venues. Of those 3 arenas, Rally-O is the most delightful—you can have fun, and both of you will be challenged. It seems to fit for most Kerry personalities. You can treat, talk ,or even cajole. If the judge is agreeable, you can also use a clicker.
Level 1 – Rally Novice, is all on leash. For me, the further challenge was mastering all the 22-28 new commands, with further new ones for levels 2 and 3. The training was fun since the signs are more portable than the other obedience equipment. Since APDT Rally is open to mixed breeds, our rescues, who have no registration papers, could also compete and show their resiliency to the world.
Try it! You will have fun and further your relationship with your clever Kerry.