I sat in on a few novice rally-obedience classes to get a feel of what it is like. Though Knox would excel better at agility, his reactivity prevents him from being able to calmly watch other dogs having fun.
For those interesting, this is basically competitive obedience. The dog must be in a left heel and perform a number of directional and instructional cues while on leash with a flat collar. This is easier said than done. We are working towards the Canadian Association Rally Obedience trials though the likelihood of us actually competing is … slim. 🙂 That said, if we can make it to advanced, it looks like there’s some agility areas that we get to work with!
As a reactive dog owner, I was attracted to working with Rally with Knox because of all the other reactive dogs in class that had amazing focus on their owners. Knox, on the other hand, has very little focus when other dogs are around. I recognize that this is definitely after lots and lots of daily work.
Due to his kennel cough, Knox had to stay home for one lesson (luckily, the one lesson he’s already pretty pro at!) so I had the chance to work with Malcolm, one of the other student’s advance rally dog. The ability to work with a dog that I didn’t have to worry about wanting to eat another dog was … so different. No pulling, no cujo face, no growling… It really brought to light all my handling inabilities and areas to improve. Namely: death grip on leash and using only my left hand for cues. Poor Malcolm had to endure my mismanagement for two course runs!
For the sake of tracking progress, here are all the signs cues we need to learn and where we’re at with our training. I’ve also borrowed a lot of cues from Malcolm’s owner. 🙂
- Weave Once: have not learned yet.
- STOP, Sit, Stand: 5/10, can sit okay but at an angled. Has not learned “stand” yet
- STOP, Sit, Down: 6/10, can sit okay but a an angle. Learning “drop” for a surfer down, and using “lie down” for a relaxed down.
- STOP, Sit, Down, Sit: 5/10, can sit, lie down back to a sit okay, but has trouble from a relaxed down.
- STOP, Sit, Walk Around/Stay: 8/10 apparently we have a great sit-stay!
- STOP, Sit, Down, Walk Around/Stay: 7/10 we don’t have an awesome down-stay though.
- Right Turn: 4/10 Harder to keep Knox in a heel, using “this way!” but might need a better cue
- Left Turn: 7/10 oddly simple for him, likely from all our body blocks!
- About Turn (turning away from the dog): 4/10 keeping a heel is difficult
- About U Turn (turning into the dog): 8/10 body blocks without physical contact are getting lots of practice.
- 270º Right: 5/10
- 270º Left: 7/10
- 360º Right: 5/10
- 360º Left: 7/10
- Call Front, Forward Right (and keep going): 6/10, using cues “front” and “around”
- Call Front, Forward Left (and keep going): 6/10, using cues “front” and “swing”
- Call Front, Finish Right (sit): Similar to above, doing okay but need to work on alignment
- Call Front, Finish Left (sit): Similar to above, doing okay but need to work on alignment
- Slow: 6/10, using the cue “slow down”
- Fast: 8/10, using the cue “let’s go”
- Normal: 9/10 Nailed it!
- STOP, Side Step Right, STOP: have not learned yet.
- STOP, 90º Pivot Right, STOP: have not learned yet, though we tried and it was a poor attempt.
- STOP, 90º Pivot Left, STOP: have not learned yet, though we tried and it was a poor attempt.
- Spiral Right Dog Outside: have not learned yet.
- Spiral Left Dog Inside: have not learned yet.
- 1, 2, 3 Steps Forward: have not learned yet.
- STOP, Turn Right, 1 Step, STOP: have not learned yet.
- Straight Figure 8: have not learned yet.