Border Terriers and Rally Obedience
By Annette Neff
Rally is a sport that Border Terriers love! In Rally 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 providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience; that’s the best thing!
In Rally you and your Border Terrier maneuver the course at a brisk pace. Though the dogs have to be under your control, this control is within a two foot area at the handler’s left side. Perfect “heel position” is not required so Border Terriers can “select” their own heel position. If you’ve ever trained a terrier for obedience competition you know that many like to do the exercises their own way.
In Rally, you can talk to and PRAISE your dog as much as you like. In many classes, you can also encourage your Border by clapping your hands, patting your legs or using any verbal means of encouragement (like “cookies!”) ….AND in some venues, like the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), you can even use food to reward your dog at the end of selected stations! Now that’s obedience Border Terriers understand!
In traditional obedience, the handler’s arms need to be maintained in a particular position all of the time; not so in Rally. Handlers can give multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands. Border Terriers can use those extra signals! Handlers may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. In fact, at any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized. So your Border’s free spirit will not be compromised.
Because each time that you show your Border in Rally there is a different course and a variety of exercises, there is little chance that your dog will get bored. Rally is a quick paced and fun activity that will keep you and your Border interested in obedience.