The idea of rally obedience is that a judge sets a course which consists of a number of exercises to be completed at the handler's pace. The exercises form a continuous route around an arena which looks a bit like a dressage arena for horses. At each stage of the course there are markers set out with instructions on what to do when you reach that point.A couple of examples can be found below. Rallying is not as formal as Kennel Club obedience in that the dog doesn't have to do all the perfect heelwork and positioning of sits etc. The handler can use voice and hand signals and as much encouragement as they want. It is in the early stages of being introduced to the UK by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Dogs do not compete against each other but gain points around a numbered course. It is fun for all, welcoming handlers of all ages and abilities, and dogs both mongrel and pedigree. Uniquely, TD Rally encourages dog and handler (classed as a team) to compete against their own previous scores rather than dog against dog. With 75 different exercises, three levels of difficulty and an combination of stations, Talking Dogs Rally will keep you and your dog busy for years to come.

LEVEL 1- Is the main entry level of competition. Level 1 station are colour coded green and are used in all 3 levels. These stations form the backbone of most courses as they include many basic exercises such as left and right turns, pace changes and stationary staples. Level 1 has 31 stations plus 3 bonus stations. All level courses are performed on lead and handlers are permitted to give their dogs lots of feedback and rewards throughout the rounds.

Station explanation - The team turn 180 to the left, then make a sharp 90 turn to the left. These turns should flow continuously.




LEVEL 2 - All rounds are done off lead. This requires more training, skill and control. Level 2 stations are blue and are included in both Level 2 and Level 3 courses. This level contains 17 new stations and include more recall work and faster pacing. It also has 5 bonus stations providing teams with a greater opportunity to work tactically.

Station explanation- Handler turns to face dog and recalls dog. Dog to sit in front of handler. Handler then asks dog to finish to their left heel where dog finishes exercise with a sit to the left heel.





 LEVEL 3 – Encompasses stations from all levels. The 17 additional Level 3 exercises, coloured yellow, include jumping and going through a tunnel combined with distance control and, has one of the 4 bonus stations, a retrieve. As in Level 2, all Level 3 rounds are performed off lead.

Station explanation - Handler turns to face dog. Dog recalled over the jump. Dog to sit in front of handler. Handler then asks dog to finish to left heel. Dog ends exercise by sitting at left heel.




BONUS EXERCISES- These non-compulsory exercises allow teams to gain extra points or make up for exercises that they know might cause problems for their dog. Or if they felt ultra- confident that their dog could do well in the round and the bonus exercise they could aim to collect a maximum of 210 points instead of 200. These exercises add a more tactical and competitive edge to the rounds and can make, or break, a winning round.

SCORING - The aim of each team is to drop as few points as possible throughout their round. Each team starts with 200 points and can lose points as they go through the course. Rather than first, second or third, teams may earn Pass, Excellent or Ace awards. They can then work towards winning Level titles by notching up multiple high scoring rounds which will also help them enter the National Rankings, with everyone hoping to be No.1 Talking Dogs Rally team in the UK.

CLASSES FOR OLD AND YOUNG – There are also Puppy and Veteran Levels. Pups 6 - 12 months can compete and win titles, and dogs over 8 years old can enter Veteran Level rounds in addition to or instead of regular Levels 1,2 and 3.

TITLES AND AWARDS -                                     

170 - 179 a ‘Good’ rosette is awarded. 

180 - 189 an ‘Outstanding’ rosette is awarded.        

190 - 210 an ‘Ace’ rosette is awarded.

AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE - If handler and dog score 190 or over in each of their first three trials in each Level, they gain the Award of Excellence and 20 bonus points towards their National Ranking. The custom made, pewter Award of Excellence will be issued directly from TD.

TALKING DOGS RALLY NATIONAL RANKINGS - All TD Rally registered teams who score 181 or more are automatically entered into the National Rankings for their Level.  See our current National Rankings here.There is no restriction on the number of qualifying scores that may be earned under the same Judge in pursuit of National rankings.Points are calculated based on the official trial report submitted to the TD Rally Office by the Trial Secretary. National Rankings scores will include qualifying scores gained between 1st May – 30th April. Rankings run annually and totals will also be reset each year.Rankings will be announced at the annual National Talking Dogs Trial and awards will be given to the Top 10 teams in each title level for each year.

For more information and location of a trainer please visit their website (

Anne Russell

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