Rally-O Revelations

Rally-O Revelations

It’s been about 9 months since I did any Rally with Rio–the last time was his first trial that was held the first weekend in December.  He did quite well during his first trial when looking at his scores (195, 198, 208) but when I watched the video of him, I saw a pup that was… not terribly engaged in the work.  He didn’t look miserable by any means and he certainly had moments of happiness, but he didn’t seem to really liked it for a lot of his runs and I saw some lip licking and displacement sniffing.  After watching the video, I decided to let him quit doing Rally or, at the least, let him take a break since he wasn’t loving it.

In April when Shayne had her second Rally trial, Rio stayed home and didn’t run because I have no desire to MAKE HIM do a sport he doesn’t really enjoy.  I already see too many dogs in the ring who would like to be ANYWHERE but in the ring–I don’t want to be THAT type of handler.  I would much prefer a happy working dog than a dog who can score well but who isn’t terribly excited–it’s not about the scores or the Q’s or the titles, it’s about having fun with my dog and if he didn’t enjoy it, there was no reason to make him do it.

I’m not sure what prompted me to sign up (very last minute) for the rally trial this past weekend but I started filling out the premium forms for Shayne when I realized that this would be held in a new facility, I thought it might be a busy trial, and it was way too hot to crate Shayne in the car.  I was really unsure about how she would handle that environment and handle being crated while I ran with Rio (she has a long history of seriously stressing out if crated in a strange place with me walking away–though she had gotten better the last time we had to for a frisbee competition).  I had already pulled out the money needed for her entry so I decided to just sign Rio up and hope for the best.  He’d been to the facility to do agility before and I know without a doubt that he could handle the environment so we just went with it.

He performed well at all three trials on Saturday and earned his RL2 title and will get an award of excellence for his high scores.  He even managed two perfect 210 scores, one in level 1B and the other in level 2A.

Trial 1:
1B–208 didn’t place (lots of GREAT teams, I think there were three perfect 210’s in this class)
2A–209 2nd place

Trial 2:
1B–210 2nd Place (on time)
2A–205 2n place (run-off)

Trial 3:
1B–209 5th place
2A–210 1st Place


You would think this would make me absolutely ecstatic but what REALLY made my weekend was seeing Rio actually enjoying himself in the ring.  He was not over the top excited but as the day went on he got more and more into the runs and seemed to have a blast.  I got some tail wagging and absolutely no lip licking, yawning, shake-offs, or displacement sniffing.

I only got 1 of our runs on ‘film’ and it was our first one so it wasn’t our best of the day but it was still pretty good considering our lack of practice.

I am so proud of him and so excited that he actually seems to be starting to like Rally!  While I HOPE to get him to at least one agility trial this year, we will be limited in terms of how far we can go in agility since I can’t always keep him in an agility class, so having an alternative is fantastic!

  1. That’s great that he had a good time at the rally trial. 🙂

    And sounds like he did really well too, by his scores!



    • Thank you!! He did a LOVELY job in the ring… I was very proud of him but more excited that he seemed to have fun doing it!

      • What I really liked about this post is that you emphasized that it is really about the dog — what is he feeling? What does he think about shows / competitions / different sports / etc. ?

        So many people, unfortunately, get caught up in a sense of competitiveness and forget to ask — is my animal actually having a good time?


        • Isn’t that what it SHOULD be about? I took him to rally class a few months back instead of Shayne because he had been with me for a previous private lesson. He rocked it in class and I was asked by someone why he didn’t compete and they just gave me a blank stare back when I said, “Because I’m not sure he likes it yet.” They didn’t understand why I wouldn’t run him to get good scores and titles since he had the skills–it’s not about me, it’s about HIM.

          There are a handful of local dogs I see at rally trials that would rather be chewing their left paws off than doing Rally and it breaks my heart.

  2. So cute! you really did a good job training your dog. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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