K-9 Corner, Jan. 23

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018


A reader called and complained that her dog seems bored with obedience practice and asked for suggestions to spice up the activity so her pet would show some of his former enthusiasm.

My suggestion was to use the ideas from the Rally-O competitions by writing down the different commands on 3 x 5 cards and either creating a pattern using the commands or by putting all the cards in your pocket and every time you halt during a heel exercise, you pull out a card and follow the directions before resuming the heeling practice.

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A pattern in basic Rally-O might be: Start with the dog sitting beside you; heel forward at a normal pace, then halt with the dog sitting beside you. Repeat except have the dog down the next time you stop. When you start again, make a 270 degree turn to the right, then right again weaving in and out of three cones (pails or cans if you wish) coming back to the first object. Heel forward and turn right and right again and halt. Tell your dog to stay and walk around him. Start forward again and suddenly back up and call your dog to you. Tell him to swing into the heel position as you start walking. Increase your speed for five or six feet and return to a normal pace. Finally halt, and praise your dog.

Rally-O has 29 commands for beginners and 19 additional commands for the more advanced students. By writing these commands on cards (you can obtain the commands from the Internet through the American Kennel Club – AKC) and pulling them out of your pocket as you are practicing with your dog, neither you nor your dog will know what is coming next.

Besides the exercises given above, any dog familiar with beginning obedience can follow a 360 degree turn either left or right, or do a moving side step to the right following the handler who steps forward and to the right. Another exercise would be to halt, pivot 90 degrees either right or left with the dog moving into the heel position as the handler takes one step forward after the pivot and halts.

There should be a card directing the handler to halt, stand the dog and leave. If there is another person close by, the dog may be examined, otherwise the handler should return and then heel the dog from the stand position.

Don’t forget to practice the recall which can be done differently each time. First, just leave the dog, pause and return. Next time leave, turn and call the dog. Mix up how you finish the exercise.

As you and the dog get better, you can add some low jumps as you heel. The main thing is mix up the commands so the dog cannot anticipate what comes next. That’s what makes it fun for both you and your dog.

Cheri Carbone teaches Rally obedience. She can be reached at (859) 583-1774 for class times.