Rally Signs, Week 1

Foundation Work from week 1

Clicker
We used clickers for Focus, Sit, Down, Foot Target, etc. Clickers will be a huge asset in distance work in later weeks.

Folding down with hand signal
First we learned how to lure our dogs into a folding down. A Folding Down is where a dog folds into a down from a stand, without a sit in between. This greatly helps precision work, so our dogs down in heel position, instead of flopping in front of us, which is prevalent when dogs sit and then flop into a down.

After they are good at folding into a down, we named it, then lured it if needed. Once our dogs master this, we introduced them to the hand signal for down. I prefer the hand signal of my arm straight up, with a flat hand. If you use the hand signal of pointing to the floor, you will have a very difficult time getting your dog to down form a distance. To avoid overshadowing (where our dogs only sees or hears one thing at a time) we are careful to never give all the signals at once. We should first use the hand signal, then the verbal command, then lure if needed.

Foot Work
During the first class we concentrated largely on footwork of both handler and canine. You were taught balance work, by putting your left foot to your right knee and waving your knee out and in, like a butterfly. Then you did the same with the other leg. The better balance you have, the easier your footwork will be, and the more clear your signals will be to your dog.

We also used Foot Targets (obtained locally from Farm and Fleet or Amazon, linked below) to help show our dogs proper positioning. This greatly helps their body awareness, especially rear-end awareness. Using Foot Targets will make it easier to maneuver with your dog, you will trip over each other less, and it will make for a much more “flashy” performance! As we used Foot Targets, we also paid special attention to our hand positioning in relation to our dogs nose in order to get them to move as we wanted them to.

Foot Targets

2 quart food/utility pan for small & average size dogs.
These pans are rubber, therefore they don’t slide on the floor. However, they may collapse under higher pressure, such as heavier dogs or enthusiastic dogs that “dive-bomb” them.

5-quart food/utility pan for large dogs.
These are made of harder plastic, which makes them hold up to heavier or more enthusiastic dogs. However, they easily slide on most floors and the tops are slippery which can take a little time for some dogs to get used to.

Signs from Week 1

The Principal Parts are boldface and underlined. Improper Performance of bold and underline text can result in minor to substantial point deductions.



1. START – Indicates the beginning of the course. The dog does not have to be sitting at the start.



2. FINISH – Indicates the end of the course – timing stops.



3. HALT – Sit – While heeling, the handler halts and the dog sits in heel position. (Stationary)



4. HALT – Sit – Down – While heeling, the handler halts and the dog sits in heel position. The dog must then down in heel position. (Stationary)



5. * Right Turn – 90° turn to the right.



6. * Left Turn – 90° turn to the left.


You did this with your Footwork & then with your dog on a foot target.


7. * About Turn – Right – 180° turn to the right.


You did this with your Footwork & then with your dog on a foot target.


8. * About “U” Turn – 180° turn to the left.



9. * 270° Right Turn – While heeling, the dog and handler make a tight 270° turn to the right.



10. * 270° Left Turn – While heeling, the dog and handler make a tight 270° turn to the left.


You did this with your Footwork & then with your dog on a foot target (it’s essentially 2 about-turns).


11. 360° Right Turn – While heeling, the dog and handler make a tight 360° turn to the right.


You did this with your Footwork & then with your dog on a foot target (it’s essentially 2 U-turns).

12. 360° Left Turn – While heeling, the dog and handler make a tight 360° turn to the left.



216. HALT – Dog Circles Right – SIT – While heeling, the handler halts and the dog sits. The dog circles around the handler to the right, returns to heel position and sits. (Stationary)


While you are allowed to take steps backwards to help your dog into the Front position on the signs below, it is best that you concentrate really hard on keeping your feet stationary instead. Future signs that use Fronts will not allow you to take steps backwards, therefore it’s good practice for both you and your dog to keep your feet still.



17. Slow Pace – The dog and handler must slow down noticeably. This must be followed by a normal pace sign unless it is the last station on the course.



18. Fast Pace – The dog and handler must speed up noticeably. This must be followed by a normal pace sign.



19. *Normal Pace – The dog and handler walk briskly. This sign is only used after a slow or fast pace sign.