petgood sponsors Sweden's national team in rally obedience, which is currently busy with preparations and training for the Nordic Championships in Finland in November. We got the chance to meet the members of the team and ask some questions about everything related to rally obedience, training and what makes a really good team!
What is rally obedience?
Rally obedience is a fun dog sport that involves dog and handler making their way through a course with signs that describe various obedience elements that the team must perform together. The team starts with 100 points and then minus points are given for errors that occur during the course. The goal is to finish with 100 points. The driver may communicate with the dog with both voice and hand commands, but you may not touch the dog or give any kind of reward on the course. The sport is based on joy and communication between dog and handler.
It is the judge who draws the course and which elements are to be completed on the actual competition day, so the competing teams do not know until the day of the competition which movements will come. In total, there are 84 moments in addition to the start and finish sign, but the dog must be able to perform all of these on both the left and right side of the driver, so it is actually the double number.
Can any dog start rally obedience training?
Yes, rally obedience is suitable for all dogs, big or small, young or old, purebred or mixed breed!
Are there any special characteristics of a dog or owner that are particularly important for success in rally obedience?
If you want to get far in the sport, it is an advantage if you as a handler are determined, have the knowledge and time to train the dog carefully and follow your plan. You need to be open to new solutions and be prepared to change your training.
It is easier to train a dog that is motivated and willing to work for some kind of reward. So if you have a dog that likes rewards, it is often excellent for training. It is also easier to train dogs that fundamentally enjoy working together and are responsive to their handler's signals. If you have a dog that is difficult to motivate, you can still succeed, but you have to spend a little more time finding strategies and rewards that can motivate the dog to want to cooperate.
What is important when it comes to rally obedience training?
The most important thing is that both dog and handler should find it fun to train together. It is worth spending time building a good foundation and a good relationship by playing and having fun together!
It is important to always keep the dog's attitude and attitude towards training in mind. If the dog does not look amused by the training, it will not want to perform and then you have to review your training and/or your reward. In the beginning, when training a puppy or a new dog, it is important to have good rewards that the dog likes and that you reward often when the dog does the right thing. Then the dog will think it's fun and want to do the same thing again.
Do you have any special tips on how to use petgood's products during training?
It is perfect to use petgood's products for both training and competition! The dog treats and dry food can be used during training. They are perfect to have in your pocket on your walks when you just want to fit in a few short training sessions on your daily rounds.
At competitions, you can have the dental sticks as a final reward after the dog has walked an entire course. They appreciate getting a slightly bigger reward that lasts longer when they have worked for a long time.
Do you have any advice for a curious dog owner who wants to get started with rally obedience?
The best thing is to sign up for a course in rally obedience to get started and start training with your dog so that it is right from the start. When you feel that you have learned the signs and elements, it is very fun and useful if you can find a training buddy or a training group to train with.
It makes it a lot easier to have training buddies who can watch your training and where you can help plan the training and build tracks. Rally obedience is the most fun if you do it together!
What is the setup for the Nordic Championships?
The Nordic championships will be held in Finland this year. The Nordic countries Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway take turns to organize the competitions each year.
Each country has appointed a national team consisting of 5 regular team members and 2 reserves. The national rally obedience teams compete in the Nordic class. It is a special class that is a mixture of all the Nordic countries' regulations. There are many new elements that are not included in the Swedish rally obedience rules. Assessment and rules also differ from the Swedish rules, where the Nordic rules are more strict.
Everyone follows an individual path with their dog. The points for all participants are added up and the three in the team with the highest points are combined and totaled. The national team with the highest total points wins the Nordic team championships.
The following day, all participants will compete again for the individual Nordic Champion title. Then each team member competes separately and you keep your points from the day before. When everyone has finished competing the one with the highest score becomes the individual Nordic Champion in 2022.
What does the last preparations look like before the championship?
It is slightly different how the team members choose to prepare. Some train short sequences of signs and reward a lot. Others train a bit mixed, both overall, courses and details. Some practice a little more nose work and physically demanding activities to build up the body.
The national team leaders hand out homework from time to time that the participants can practice.
We want to give a big thank you to the entire Swedish rally obedience team for a very interesting chat, and wish you the best of luck in Finland!