Getting Started in Rally!

Sign up for a Rally class in your neighborhood!  It is lots of fun, a great sport to do with your dog!

Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed in advance by the rally judge. For each class, there is a ten minute walk through, where handlers can go through the course, without their dog, to familiarize themselves with the course signs and plan their strategy.

When it is your turn in the ring, the judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign indicating which exercise is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience.

Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Unless otherwise specified in these Regulations, handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler's arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.

The team of dog and handler should move continuously at a brisk, but normal, pace with the dog under control at the handler's left side. There should be a sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during the numbered exercises and between the exercise signs; however, perfect "heel position" is not required. Any faults in traditional obedience that would be evaluated and scored as a one-point deduction or more should be scored the same in Rally, unless otherwise mentioned in the Rally Regulations. After the judge's "Forward" order, the team is on its own to complete the entire sequence of numbered signs correctly.  Teams will all be timed.  The limit is four minutes. Timing will begin when the judge gives the order “Forward” and ends when dog and handler cross the finish line.  Times are only used when scores are tied. The dog and handler with the faster time will place ahead of the other team.

Rally Signs

Signs are numbered to make it easy to find the next station when navigating the course. All signs are placed to the handler's right side. The signs are large enough to be easily recognized when going through a course. The exercises designated on the signs will be performed in close proximity to the sign itself, either in front (for change of direction),or beside the sign.

Role of the judge

The judge arrives before judging, in order to set up the course for the class. Judges are open to questions that the handlers may have regarding the course during the walk-through period. They must post a copy of the course at ringside so that the exhibitors know what to expect and where to go once they are in the ring. The judge evaluates the performance of each exercise and the sense of teamwork between the dog and handler between the stations as stated in the CKC Rally Regulations.

Qualifying Performances

A qualifying performance indicates that the dog has performed the required exercises according to the CKC Rally Regulations. Each performance is timed, but times are only counted if two dogs earn the same score.

Qualifying Scores

All dogs and handlers begin with a perfect 100. A dog and handler team is awarded a qualifying score in Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Excellent levels if it retains at least 70 points after the course has been completed. In Rally Masters, the team must retain at least 85 points to qualify. Once the team has completed the course, their score will be posted ringside.

Rally Titles

The dogs must earn three qualifying scores under two different judges in order to receive a CKC Rally title. The titles that can be earned are:

Rally Novice: RN

Rally Advanced: RA

Rally Intermediate: RI

Rally Excellent: RE

RallyMasters: RM


For details regarding qualifying for the following titles, please refer to the CKC Rally Rules, or ask your instructor.

Rally Advanced Excellent: RAE

Rally Master Excellent: RMX

Rally Champion:RCH

Rally Grand Champion: RGCH


Brisk – Keenly alive, alert, energetic.

Course Design – A set of signs, previously arranged by the judge, that the dog and handler team will navigate for competition. Each class will have a different course.

Leg – A term that is used frequently for a qualifying score.

Station – Location of a sign providing instructions regarding the exercise that is to be performed.

Timing – All dogs will be timed. Times will be used only in the event of ties for a placement.

Walk-through – Handlers are permitted to walk the course, without a dog, prior to the start of the class to plan their strategy. The walk-through gives handlers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the signs and the course.