It’s a young and very fun sport that tackles all of your obedience behaviors PLUS pumps up the fun by throwing in fun transitions and mandatory tricks!
Rally-FrEe is an excellent way to become a better trainer. No other sport will force you to learn how to break down and build up your dog’s understanding of the things you teach. And everything you learn can be done with little space and no special equipment. As an agility lover, I find that RFE is a superior way to work on my teamwork and to develop value for working together, because it can be done anywhere, not just at the training field. Yet it embodies the same enjoyable dance of movement that makes agility so fun. It’s a great choice for the senior dog who wants more than just a controlled heeling game like Obedience.
Here’s what kind of things are involved:
It’s a Rally-Obedience style course but with more exciting behaviors (from both the human and dog’s point of view). The course consists of numbered signs with behaviors like:
- right, left, front, and behind “heel” positions, in the advanced levels, there’s an “alternate” position that you can choose (like perpendicular in front (or behind) the handler)
- circle around the handler (beginning with one simple revolution, building to multiples with the handler moving counter, all the way to multiple backward circle-arounds with counter motion!)
- backing skills
- your standard obedience fare: sit, stand, and down
- leg weaves (which also serve to help transition the dog from opposite heel positions)
- and more!
But, beyond what is required, there are 4 free choice signs. As you may guess, you’re free to choose whatever behavior you’d like to do. You could do something like a perfect sit, and get points for execution, but little for creativity. Or, you could come up with a totally novel trick and get full points for creativity, even if you don’t execute it perfectly. In Rally-FrEe, you start with zero points and earn for everything you do. You can even skip a sign if you need to.
A big goal of the sport is to develop the teamwork between you and your dog. When you arrive at a sign, and before departing, an emphasis is placed on your dog being connected and in position. As for the position, you are welcome to train any variation of heel, just so long as the position remains consistent.
Skills like connecting to your dog, and being able to transition from one trick to the next, while learning how to discriminate from what becomes an enormous pile of tricks makes Rally-FrEe an excellent choice for cultivating a foundation for something really advanced like Musical Freestyle. It also helps you practice sequencing tricks into a performance instead of disjointedly showing off what your dog can do. It’ll put the polish on your performance and make you look like a pro, perfect for therapy teams or anyone who likes to show off your clever dog.
Class groups are small because the training order is tall. At In Joy we prefer smaller classes anyway, because the goal is for you to learn how to train your dog, not be another zombie in a crowd training your dog to obey treats 😉
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