Preventing Common Rally Mistakes: Don’t Forget to Pause!

In AKC (American Kennel Club) rally, each sign that requires you to walk around your dog also includes a pause when you get back to heel position. So, what exactly is a pause?

A pause is a complete stop of forward motion with your feet together. Pauses can be fairly quick, but it should be obvious that you paused in heel position. I recommend counting to two in your head to ensure that there's no question about your pause.

Forgetting to pause after walking around your dog is one of the more common handler errors in AKC rally. Unfortunately, it's a big error that will cost you and your dog 10 points for an incorrectly performed sign. It's an easy thing to forget as you are rushing through the course!

Let's look at the signs that require you to pause in heel!

Rally Novice

Halt Walk Around
Halt Down Walk Around

For the halt sit or halt down walk around signs, you'll stop as your dog sits. For the down sign, you will cue down. Tell your dog to stay and walk around the dog, pausing when you get back into heel position. After the pause, heel forward with your dog.

Call Front Return to Heel

For this sign, as you are heeling, take 1-2 steps back and call your dog to front. Tell your dog to stay, then walk around your dog into heel position. PAUSE then continue on. This is a change of direction sign, so you will call the dog right in line with the sign.

Rally Advanced

 Halt Stand Walk Around

This sign is similar to the halt sit/down walk around signs. Stop and have your dog sit in heel. Cue your dog stand, tell them to stay, then walk around. Pause when you get back to heel position.

Rally Excellent

Moving Stand Walk Around
Moving Down Walk Around

For these signs, you need to cue to down or stand without slowing down or stopping. Circle around your dog, being sure to pause when you get back to heel position.

Rally Master

Halt Send Away Sit Return Signs

These signs require you to send your dog to a cone and have the dog sit. You then return to your dog in heel position, pause, and continue forward in the direction of the arrow.

The concept of pausing in heel position is really hard for some people, especially when you're in the ring and feeling pressured to move quickly!! Be sure to work through this in practice until it becomes a habit.

During the June rally class at FDSA, From Good to GREAT: Increasing Rally Scores, we'll focus on many of the most common errors that will cost you points in rally. The signs will be reviewed to ensure your understanding of the correct performance. The class is filled with a lot of other goodies too, including some dog training tips to ensure more accurate performance and tip and tricks for you, the handler, about memorizing courses, staying connected to your dog, and a whole lot more! If rally is your game, come and join me in class!

E361: Irith Bloom - The Role of Choice and Habit i...
E360: Petra Ford - "Training For Engagement"

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to