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General Rally Info

Here’s a quick rundown of important info to remember. This by no means is a complete list of rules, however, they will get you well on your way to having a good understanding of Rally.


AKC Rally is open to all dogs with an AKC #, PAL#, or Canine Partners#!


Classes have both an “A” & “B” classes (e.g. Novice A and Novice B). This helps “level the playing field” so to speak. If you and your dog are new to the sport and your dog doesn’t have any other obedience titles, you can compete in the “A” class with similar competitors. This way you don’ have to worry about competing with seasoned veterans. The following is a quote from the AKC Rally Rulebook:

The Rally Novice A Class. To be eligible for entry in this class, dogs may not have won an AKC Rally Novice (RN) title or any AKC Obedience title (including optional class titles) prior to the close of entries. A handler must own the dog entered or be a member of the owner’s household or immediate family. The handler may not have previously handled any dog that has earned an AKC Rally title or any AKC Obedience title. A person may enter more than one dog in this class. After a dog earns the Rally Novice (RN) title, it may continue to compete in this class for 60 days. No dog may be entered in both Rally Novice A and Rally Novice B at any one trial.
The Rally Novice B Class. Any dog may be entered in this class until a qualifying score in the Rally Advanced class is earned. The owner or any other person may handle dogs in this class. A person may enter more than one dog in this class. No dog may be entered in both Rally Novice A and Rally Novice B at any one trial. 

At a show, a course map will be available for you (either posted by the ring or handed out at the ringside table) and you will get a 10 minute walkthrough before showing.


Flat, martingale, and slip-chain collars permitted. No “training collars.”


Novice & Intermediate is on leash. You will get point deductions if your leash gets tight at any time during your performance.


Jumps required per class:

  • Novice & Intermediate = 0.
  • Advanced = 1
  • Excellent = 2
  • Masters = 1


Jump Heights (measured from the floor to the dog’s withers):

  • A dog that is 10” or less jumps 4”
  • Dogs 10”-15” = 8”
  • Dogs 15”-20“ = 12
  • Dogs 20”+ = 16

Broad jump is twice their jump height.


Handler communication with dog is encouraged, not penalized. However, be careful of clapping hands, slapping legs, and repeat commands as they may be penalized in higher level classes. NO loud commands or scolding is permitted.


Most signs should be approached so the sign is on your right (with few exceptions).


All courses have a Start and Finish sign that doesn’t count toward the number of signs required per class.


Total Number of Stations per class:

  • Novice = 10-15
  • Intermediate & Advanced = 12-17
  • Excellent & Masters: 15-20


In Novice/Intermediate you are done after the finish sign and the judge will say “Exercise Finished.” However, in Advanced+ you continue past the Finish sign, to a Sit-Stay sign. Here you place your dog in a Sit-Stay, retrieve leash, return to your dog by walking around behind then and into heel position. Then wait for the judge to say “exercise finished.” At that point you can put the leash on dog and exit.


For each qualifying score of 70 points or more (out of a possible 100), you earn a “leg” towards your title. You must earn a Leg in 3 shows, by a minimum of 2 judges, to earn a title.


There is also an RAE title that you can earn by entering Advanced and Excellent in the same show. You must earn a qualifying score in BOTH classes in the same show to earn a “leg.” You must accumulate 10 Legs to earn the title.


If you Incorrectly Perform (IP) a sign, it costs you 10-pts if you don’t re-try it or you re-try it but still perform it incorrectly.


In all classes except Masters, you can re-try any sign one time, except jumps. You only get one try for jumps. If you know that you have incorrectly performed a sign, it is well worth re-trying it….


If you re-try a sign and you perform it correctly the second time, it will only cost you 3-points instead of the 10-points it would have cost you if you didn’t re-try it.


If you re-try a sign, you must make it evident by re-approaching the sign as if you were approaching it for the first time. You can also verbally tell the judge that you are retrying the sign.


You are timed, but it is only used to break ties for placements.