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Wyoming 4-H Projects

University of Wyoming Extension



What is Rally?

Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by a judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and 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.

Unlimited communication from the handler to the dog is to be encouraged and not penalized. Handlers are permitted to talk, praise, encourage, clap their hands, pat their legs, or use any verbal means of encouragement. Multiple commands and/or signals using one or both arms and hands are allowed; the handler's arms need not be maintained in any particular position at any time. The handler may not touch the dog or make physical corrections. At any time during the performance, loud or harsh commands or intimidating signals will be penalized.

Am I Eligible?

To be eligible to compete in 4-H Rally trials, a dog must be:

  • 6 months of age or older.
  • Youth must be an enrolled 4-H member that is in good standing in their county 4-H program as deemed by the 4-H Educator.

Rally Signs

The signs may be any color and they include descriptions as well as directional arrows of exercises. Signs are numbered to make it easy to find the next station when navigating the course.

All signs are placed to the handler's right side. The signs are large enough to be easily recognized when going through a course. The exercises designated on the signs will be performed in close proximity to the sign itself, either in front, back of, or beside the sign.

Role of the Judge

The judge sets up the course for the class. Judges are open to questions that the handlers may have regarding the course during the walk-through period. They post a copy of the course at ringside so that the exhibitors know what to expect and where to go once they are in the ring. The judge evaluates the performance of each exercise and the sense of teamwork between the dog and handler between the stations.

The orders "Are you ready?" and "Forward" are given to each handler who enters the ring.

Levels of Competition

The levels of competition in Wyoming 4-H Rally are:

“A” classes are for dogs that have NOT:      

  1. had a qualifying Obedience or Rally score in AKC competitions , or…
  2. received an Obedience or Rally Title in AKC competitions

“B” classes are for dogs that have:               

  1. received a qualifying Obedience or Rally score in AKC competitions , or…
  2. received an Obedience or Rally Title in AKC competitions

Novice (A & B) - this is the first level for those just getting started in competition

  • All exercises are performed with the dog on leash
  • There is a requirement of 10-15 stations to complete with no more than 5 stationary exercises.
  • The exercises performed vary from turning 360 degrees to changing paces during the course.
  • Exhibitors at this level may clap their hands and pat their legs through the course.

Advanced (A & B) -  this is the second level, which includes more difficult exercises throughout the course.

  • All exercises are performed off-leash
  • there is a requirement of 12-17 stations with no more than 7 stationary exercises.
  • Exercises include a jump as well as calling your dog to the front of you instead of to a heel position.
Excellent (A & B)- this third and highest level of Rally is the most challenging.
  • Exercises are performed off-leash except for the honor exercise.
  • There is a requirement of 15-20 stations with no more than 7 stationary exercises.
  • Handlers are only allowed to encourage their dogs verbally.  Physical encouragement is not allowed at this level.
  • The Excellent-level exercises include backing up three steps while the dog stays in the heel position and a moving stand while the handler walks around the dog.

      Qualifying Performance

      A qualifying performance indicates that the dog has performed the required exercises according to the Rally Regulations.  Each performance is timed, but times are only used as a tie-breaker if two dogs earn the same score.

      Qualifying Score

      All dogs and handlers begin with a perfect 100. A dog and handler team is awarded a qualifying score if it retains at least 70 points after the course has been completed.


      Brisk - Keenly alive, alert, energetic.

      Course Design - A set of signs, previously arranged by the judge, that the dog and handler team will navigate for competition. Each class will have a different course design.

      Crowding - A dog that is so close to the handler as to interfere with the handler's freedom of motion.

      Gently - With kindness, without harshness or roughness.

      Leg - A term that is used frequently for a qualifying score.

      Natural - Not artificial; free of affectation; what is customarily expected in the home or public places.

      Qualifying Score - Minimum of 70 points out of a possible perfect score of 100.

      Station - Location of a sign providing instructions regarding the exercise that is to be performed.

      Timing -All dogs will be timed. Times will be used only in the event of ties for a placement.

      Walk-through - Handlers are permitted to walk the course, without a dog, prior to the start of the class to plan their strategy. The walk-through gives handlers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the signs and the course.
      NOTE:  This information is provided as basics for the Wyoming 4-H Dog Project rally competitions and is adapted from materials from the American Kennel Club (AKC).  For more information on AKC sponsored events, rules, and regulations, go to: .

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